Knights to Open UCF Holiday Classic Against Liberty

Dec. 28, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

UCF Holiday Classic Tournament Page

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After a long layoff for Christmas, the UCF men's basketball team will return to action Tuesday, hosting Liberty at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. The contest is part of the UCF Holiday Classic.

The two-day tournament will begin at 4:30 p.m. when Buffalo faces Jacksonville. Fans with tickets to UCF's contest can also attend the first game of the tournament for no additional charge.

The Knights (7-4) have not played since nearly pulling an upset at 14th-ranked UConn on Dec. 20. UCF led by five at halftime, but the Huskies rallied to post a 60-51 win. Freshman guard Marcus Jordan (Highland Park, Ill.) led the Knights with 13 points. In the team's last two games, Jordan averaged 13.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.

UCF is 5-0 at the UCF Arena this season. The Knights have not played in Orlando since posting a 63-50 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 12.

Liberty enters the UCF Holiday Classic 6-6 in 2009-10. The Flames have won two-straight games and are led by Kyle Ohman, who is averaging 13.9 points.

The UCF Holiday Classic will conclude on Wednesday, with the consolation game scheduled for 4:30 p.m., followed by the championship at 7 p.m.

A special "Pick Your Starting Five" ticket plan is currently available. The plan allows fans to select tickets to five games of their choice for as little as $45. To purchase the "Pick Your Starting Five Plan" today, call (407) UCF-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com.

The UCF Arena box office will be open before the game. Single-game tickets start at just $5. UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID. UCF-Liberty will air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 The Game in Orlando. Marc Daniels and Mike O'Donnell will call all of the action from courtside.

Live statistics and video will be available at UCFAthletics.com.

On Tuesday at noon, the UCF women's team will host No. 3 Notre Dame. Fans with tickets to the UCF Holiday Classic will be admitted free to the contest against the Fighting Irish.

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.

UCF-Liberty Series Information
? UCF and Liberty have met twice, with each program taking a victory
? The last meeting came on March 2, 1990, and the host Knights posted an 86-79 win
? The Flames are a member of the Big South Conference and UCF is 18-7 against current league programs
? Both UCF and the Flames have played at Notre Dame this season, falling by nearly identical scores
? The Knights dropped a 90-72 contest on Dec. 6, and Liberty lost 91-72 on Nov. 22

Holiday Success
? UCF has won six-consecutive UCF Holiday Classic games, and has claimed the last three tournament titles
? Since the event began in 2004, the Knights are 8-2 in tournament play
? Last season at the UCF Holiday Classic, the Knights posted an 81-64 win over Penn in the semifinals, and then topped Chicago State, 89-75, in the championship

Up Next for the Knights
? On Wednesday, the Knights will face either Buffalo or Jacksonville to conclude the tournament
? UCF has not played Buffalo since 1993 and the series is tied, 1-1
? UCF and Jacksonville were former Atlantic Sun rivals and the series is tied, 11-11
? The programs last met in 2006 and the host Knights eased to a 99-62 victory at the old UCF Arena

Last Time Out
? Playing at No. 14 UConn on Dec. 20, UCF led by five at halftime, but the Knights' upset bid was thwarted when the Huskies rallied for a 60-51 win at the XL Center
? Marcus Jordan paced the Knights, who finished with a 36-34 edge on the glass against the bigger and more experienced Huskies, with 13 points

Non-Conference Dominance
? The Knights are 5-0 this year at home and have claimed 15-straight non-league games at the UCF Arena
? The streak dates back to Dec. 30, 2007, when UCF defeated NJIT to open the UCF Holiday Classic

Approaching History
? In his 17th year with the Knights, Kirk Speraw has 271 victories at UCF and needs only four to become the winningest coach in program history
? Torchy Clark, who coached the Knights from 1969-83, won 274 games in Orlando
? The 2006-07 Conference USA Coach of the Year, Speraw has led the Knights to the NCAA Tournament on four occasions
? He is one of only 14 coaches in the country who have spent at least 16-straight years at their current school

New Balance
? Last year, Jermaine Taylor averaged 26.2 points and led the Knights in scoring in 29 of the team's 31 games
? The All-America selection finished the campaign third nationally in scoring and was one of only three UCF players (Isaac Sosa, A.J. Tyler) to pace the squad in points
? With Taylor playing in the NBA with Houston, UCF now features a more balanced offense
? Through 11 games in 2009-10, six Knights have already led the team in points - Tyler (4), Sosa (3), Keith Clanton, Dave Diakite, Marcus Jordan and Taylor Young
? Six UCF players are averaging at least 7.0 points an outing, and the team's leading scorer is Isaac Sosa (12.0)

The Future Starts Now
? Underclassmen are responsible for 72.4 percent of UCF's points this year
? Freshmen and sophomores have also played 73.7 of the team's minutes

Getting Defensive
? UCF limited its last three opponents, including two BIG EAST programs, to an average of just 59.7 points
? The Knights forced 52 turnovers in the three contests
? UCF held No. 14 UConn to just 60 points, the lowest amount scored by the Huskies this season
? UConn mustered just 20 points in the first half

The Reserves
? In the Knights' last two games, the team's reserves have averaged 21.0 points, compared to 6.0 points from the opponent's bench
? At No. 14 UConn on Dec. 20, UCF's reserves were responsible for 21 of the squad's 51 points
? On eight occasions this year, UCF's bench has outscored the opponent's reserves

Free Falling
? The Knights are shooting 72.0 percent at the free-throw line, good for second in Conference USA
? A.J. Tyler and Taylor Young lead the way for the Knights, as both juniors have made 24-of-29 (82.8 percent) attempts at the charity stripe

Rated Rookie
? After strong performances at USF and 14th-ranked UConn, Marcus Jordan garnered Conference USA Rookie of the Week accolades on Dec. 22
? He averaged 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals against the Bulls and Huskies
? The guard also shot 59.0 percent overall, and 60.0 percent from 3-point range
? Jordan has appeared in all 11 of the Knights' contests this year, and is averaging 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 19.0 minutes as a reserve

Playing Big Versus the BIG EAST
? Marcus Jordan has recorded his best contests of the year against BIG EAST programs
? In games at Notre Dame, USF and No. 14 UConn, Jordan averaged 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 61.9 percent overall and 66.7 percent from behind the arc

Little Big Man
? Despite his diminutive stature, Chicago native A.J. Rompza is UCF's leader on and off the floor
? Rompza was a Conference USA All-Freshman Team pick a year ago after averaging 5.2 assists
? His main job was to get the ball to league player of the year Jermaine Taylor, who averaged 26.2 points
? As a result, Rompza averaged just 4.3 points per game
? Without Taylor, the point guard is looking to score more this season and is averaging 7.9 points an outing

It Takes a Thief
? A.J. Rompza ranks fifth nationally in steals, averaging 3.0 per game
? The sophomore grabbed 46 steals in 29 games last year, and already has 33 swipes in 2009-10

The Fresh Prince
? Considered the best recruit in program history, Keith Clanton has made an immediate impact as a freshman
? The Orlando native entered the UCF starting lineup on Dec. 12 versus Bethune-Cookman and is averaging 8.9 points and 6.4 rebounds
? Clanton finished his senior campaign at Orlando Christian Prep as the 68th-best senior in the country according to Rivals.com

Swat Team
? A year ago, guard Jermaine Taylor led the Knights with 24 blocked shots
? In just 11 games this season, Keith Clanton has already registered 19 swats

Sure Shot Returns
? One of the best shooters on the team, A.J. Tyler surprisingly shot just 39.6 percent overall as he averaged 9.3 points in UCF's first six games of the year
? Thankfully for the Knights, Tyler has gotten back on track and has averaged 13.4 points on 53.6 percent shooting from the floor in UCF's last five games
? The junior, who began his career at Clemson, is averaging 11.2 points on the year
? He has scored in double figures six times this season

Welcome Back
? After having a few tough contests, forward Dave Diakite has been strong on the glass for the Knights as of late
? The Washington, D.C., native averaged 10.0 rebounds at USF and No. 14 UConn
? In the contest at UConn, Diakite led all players with 13 rebounds, including six offensive boards
? On the season, he leads the Knights with 6.8 rebounds per game
? The small forward is also averaging 7.0 points in 20.5 minutes
? He already has two double-doubles in 2009-10
? A year ago, Dave Diakite appeared in only five games at the start of the campaign before suffering a season-ending knee injury