UCF Men's Basketball 2008-09 Review

April 27, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - From Jermaine Taylor's scoring exploits, to the big win at New Mexico, the 2008-09 campaign was filled with memorable moments for the UCF men's basketball team. Led by one of the nation's premier players in Taylor, the Knights gave their fans plenty to cheer about during the season.

Taylor averaged 26.2 points as a senior, good for third in the country. The Conference USA Player of the Year, he led the Knights in scoring in 29 of the team's 31 contests. The shooting guard recorded nine 30-point showings and one 40-point performance. His 812 points were a UCF single-season record and ranked second on the C-USA register. Taylor concluded the regular season in incredible fashion, averaging 35.1 points in the Knights' final seven contests. The highlight was a 45-point performance versus Rice, which was good for a program Division I record. Taylor shot 48.0 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from 3-point range (92-of-245) and 81.2 percent at the free-throw line during the campaign.

Conference Confidence
Taylor established a pair of Conference USA single-season scoring records. He averaged a league-record 29.1 points in conference play, totaling a C-USA best 466 points. Robert McKiver of Houston held both of the records previously as he averaged 25.4 points (406 in 16 games) in 2007-08.

Award Tour
Taylor received several impressive accolades in addition to Conference USA Player of the Year honors. He garnered Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention recognition, becoming the first UCF player to earn the honor. Taylor was also named to the Basketball Times All-America Third Team. He was selected to the All-C-USA First Team, the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 11 First Team and the United States Basketball Writers Association All-District IV Team. During the regular season, Taylor was tabbed as the C-USA Player of the Week on five occasions, the most in a single season for a player since Marquette's Dwyane Wade was honored five times in 2002-03.

Career Cheer
In four years with the Knights, Taylor scored 1,979 points, good for tops on the school's Division I register. He also concluded his career third on the Conference USA scoring list. Taylor hit a UCF-record 251 3-pointers during his career and is also the program's all-time leader in 3-point field goal attempts (668).

All-Star Status
Once the season concluded, Taylor remained busy. At the Final Four in Detroit, he participated in a pair of events. Taylor competed in the Vegas.com Slam Dunk Championship at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The day before the national semifinals, he had an impressive performance against some of the best players in the nation, scoring 23 points in the Hershey's College All-Star Game at Ford Field. Taylor was the leading scorer and team MVP for the Hershey's All Stars. In May, Taylor was one of 64 seniors who participated in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia. He averaged an event-best 21.3 points and was named to the all-tournament team.

Hey Young World
With eight true freshmen and 12 total underclassmen, UCF was the fifth-youngest team in the country in 2008-09. The Knights concluded the campaign with just three upperclassmen - Taylor, senior Kenrick Zondervan and junior Drew Speraw. During the season, underclassmen played 62.8 percent of the team's minutes.

Homecourt Advantage
The Knights had another successful campaign at the UCF Arena, going 13-3 at the facility. UCF excelled offensively in Orlando, averaging 78.2 points at home, compared to 64.7 away. The squad shot 48.7 percent overall and 39.2 percent from 3-point range at the UCF Arena, and also dished out 16.7 assists per game.

Hit the Freeway
The Knights established a school Division I record by shooting 74.7 percent from the free-throw line. That mark was good for 23rd in the country. The fact that UCF enjoyed success at the line surely came as a surprise to those who watched the team at the start of the year. The squad shot 70.1 percent from the charity stripe in non-league play. UCF especially struggled at the beginning of the campaign, shooting just 61.1 percent from the line during six games in November.

The Dish
Thanks to A.J. Rompza and Taylor Young, UCF led Conference USA and was 41st in the country, averaging 15.4 assists per game. The Knights totaled 478 assists on the year, the third-highest mark in school history.

Big-Time Victory
In November, UCF recorded one of the biggest victories in program history, coming back to top host New Mexico, 72-71, at The Pit. The UCF triumph snapped a 33-game home non-conference winning streak for the Lobos. Taylor scored 18 points in the victory for the Knights, who overcame a six-point deficit in the final minute. He found Chris Baez for the game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds remaining. Before falling to the Knights, New Mexico's previous home non-league loss came on Dec. 22, 2004, against Wake Forest.

Leader of the New School
Following the regular season, Rompza was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team, becoming the first Knight to earn the honor. The point guard made 26 starts as a rookie, averaging 5.2 assists and 4.3 points. His assists per game average ranked third in C-USA and 32nd in the country. Rompza recorded 150 assists, good for third on the UCF single-season register.

The Fresh Prince
As a freshman, Isaac Sosa was one of the most accurate long-distance shooters in the country. He connected on 57-of-126 (45.2 percent) of his 3-point attempts. Sosa would have ranked seventh nationally and first in Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage, but he fell just shy of the per game minimum. The shooting guard appeared in all 31 games for UCF, making eight starts, and averaged 8.2 points.

Full House
When the Knights hosted Memphis on Jan. 10, a packed house was on hand at the UCF Arena. A school record 9,825 fans watched UCF battle the Tigers. The previous record was set a year earlier when 7,097 spectators saw the Knights host Tulsa on Jan. 12, 2008. All 10 of the top-10 crowds in program history have been established since the program moved into the UCF Arena in 2007.

Senior Moments
Zondervan clearly elevated his game in Conference USA play. The senior center averaged 9.3 points and 5.1 rebounds against league foes. During the non-conference portion of UCF's schedule, he averaged 4.6 points and 3.8 boards. A native of Holland, he showed great improvement since arriving in Orlando. As a freshman in 2005-06, Zondervan averaged just 0.3 points and 0.3 rebounds in 18 contests.

Rivalry Win
The Knights picked up a big non-conference win in December, posting a 71-63 victory over cross-state foe USF in Orlando. Taylor recorded 30 points as UCF topped the Bulls for the first time since 1994. The contest was played in front of 6,695 fans. UCF limited the BIG EAST team to just three points in the final four minutes of the game.

Handle With Care
Young took good care of the basketball as a sophomore. The Orlando native, who started 27 games, was 12th nationally in assist/turnover ratio at 2.72. He dished out 106 assists and had just 39 turnovers.

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