UCF Hoops Fastbreak: A Look at UCF's Top Wins of the 2000s

Dec. 25, 2009

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - To exhibit the growth of the UCF men's basketball program, consider that the Knights opened this decade by hosting Mercer for an Atlantic Sun contest at the old UCF Arena. Ten years later, the Knights play in Conference USA, have one of the premier facilities in the country and are attracting top recruits.

The only consistency for the program during the 2000s was head coach Kirk Speraw, who led the Knights to a pair of NCAA Tournaments.

Looking back at the 2000s, here is my list of the Knights' top-10 victories of the decade:

10. UCF 70, Penn State 59 (Nov. 25, 2007)

Playing its third major conference opponent in four days - UCF had already met No. 19 Villanova and No. 18 Kansas State - at the Old Spice Classic in nearby Lake Buena Vista, the Knights were in control for the whole game against the Nittany Lions. Jermaine Taylor paced UCF with a game-high 23 points.

9. UCF 71, USF 63 (Dec. 6, 2008)

Taylor recorded 30 points as the Knights beat the Bulls for the first time since 1994. The contest was played in front of a boisterous crowd of 6,695 at the UCF Arena. UCF limited USF to just three points in the final four minutes of the contest.

8. UCF 63, Gardner-Webb (Feb. 24, 2005)

Speraw's squad closed out the program's tenure in the A-Sun in style, taking the conference championship crown, and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, with the win over Gardner-Webb in Nashville, Tenn. The Knights built a big first-half lead, and then held off a late rally. Gary Johnson led all players with 19 points in the victory.

7. UCF 66, Houston 56 (Jan. 14, 2006)

Facing a strong Houston team on the road, the Knights got a strong performance from Anthony Williams to record the first C-USA win in program history. Williams scored 25 points and added nine rebounds for the Knights.

6. UCF 72, New Mexico 71 (Nov. 22, 2008)

No one gave the Knights a chance heading into their game at New Mexico, especially considering that the Lobos had won 33-straight non-conference contests at The Pit. Eighteen points from Taylor, and a big 3-pointer from Chris Baez, gave the Knights the triumph, shocking the home fans in the process.

5. UCF 63, Nevada 60 (Nov. 11, 2007)

The Knights opened the UCF Arena in strong fahsion, recording a win over a Wolf Pack team that was receiving votes in both national pools. Dave Noel and Kenrick Zondervan each scored 14 points to help UCF post the victory in the physical contest.

4. UCF 82, No. 25 College of Charleston 64 (Dec. 12, 2002)

Ed Dotson scored a game-high 18 points, and three other Knights finished with double figures in scoring, as UCF rolled to an easy win over the Cougars. The triumph marked the first time that the Knights had defeated a nationally-ranked opponent.

3. UCF 75, Houston 72 (ot) (Feb. 29, 2007)

A big 3-pointer from Mike O'Donnell, plus 20 points from Taylor, helped the Knights defeat the Cougars, and clinch second place in C-USA. The contest was played in front of 4,090 fans at the old UCF Arena. The game featured 14 lead changes and 13 ties.

2. UCF 60, Troy 55 (March 6, 2004)

Dexter Lyons scored 18 points, and Roberto Morentin and Gary Johnson hit some clutch free throws late, to help UCF win the A-Sun Championship title and earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996. The contest in Nashville, Tenn., marked the fourth time in six years that UCF reached the conference tournament finals.

1. UCF 97, Tulsa 91 (3ot) (Jan. 12, 2008)

The first C-USA game inside the UCF Arena was one of the most exciting contests in program history. Taylor totaled seven of his 28 points in the final extra session, including a pair of 3-pointers, to lift the Knights to the win. The contest was played in front of a then-school record 7,097 spectators. Chip Cartwright's two free throws early in the third overtime put the Knights ahead for good. After the contest, Speraw said, "That is what college basketball is all about. It was a special game... a special atmosphere."

Honorable Mention

UCF 84, Massachusetts 67 (Nov. 13, 2009) - UCF's young team opened the 2009-10 campaign with a dominating performance against the Minutemen.

UCF 84, Auburn 74 (Nov. 20, 2009) - The Knights never trailed during the contest at the Glenn Wilkes Classic, recording the program's first win over an SEC school.

UCF 67, UTEP 64 (Jan. 27, 2007) - A late 3-pointer from O'Donnell helped the Knights hand the Miners their first C-USA loss at home since joining the league.

UCF 62, New Mexico State 58 (Nov. 21, 2004) - The win over the Aggies gave the Knights with the title at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.