Knights Seeking UCF Holiday Classic Title Wednesday Versus Jacksonville

Dec. 30, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A day after a convincing win over Liberty, the UCF men's basketball team will aim for the UCF Holiday Classic title when it hosts Jacksonville at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the UCF Arena. The Knights (8-4) are 6-0 at home this season.

On Tuesday, freshman forward Keith Clanton (Orlando, Fla.) grabbed a season-best 14 rebounds in helping UCF to an 82-58 victory over Liberty. Sophomore guard Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) connected on three triples versus the Flames, and is averaging a team-high 12.1 points.

Jacksonville is 2-7 on the year, but has faced one of the nation's toughest schedules. The Dolphins lost by just six points at South Carolina, and played tough against Florida. On Tuesday, Jacksonville advanced to the tournament title game by topping Buffalo, 83-73.

Jacksonville's Ben Smith scored 23 points yesterday, and is averaging 17.4 points this season.

Buffalo and Liberty will meet in the UCF Holiday Classic consolation game at 4:30 p.m.

The UCF Arena ticket office will be open Wednesday afternoon. Tickets start at just $5 and offer admission to both games. UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

UCF's contest will air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 The Game in Orlando with Marc Daniels on the call. Live statistics and video will be available on UCFAthletics.com.

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-Jacksonville Series History
? UCF and Jacksonville have a long series history, dating back to 1972
? The Knights have won five of the last six contests and the all-time series is tied 11-11
? In Orlando, UCF has a 7-3 advantage against the Dolphins
? The programs last met on Nov. 27, 2006, and the Knights eased to a 99-62 victory at the old UCF Arena
? Josh Peppers scored 24 points in only 22 minutes in the win, as UCF shot 65.4 percent from the floor
? Ben Smith paced the Dolphins with 14 points in 37 minutes
? UCF and Jacksonville are former Atlantic Sun Conference rivals
? Kirk Speraw is 11-5 versus the Dolphins

Holiday Success
? UCF has won seven-consecutive UCF Holiday Classic games, and has claimed the last three tournament titles
? Since the event began in 2004, the Knights are 9-2 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
? UCF will play its final non-conference game of the year on Jan. 5 when the Knights meet 16th-ranked Ole Miss in Oxford

Last Time Out
? A big second half helped the Knights ease to an 82-58 UCF Holiday Classic win over Liberty Tuesday
? The Knights led by six points at halftime, and then outscored the Flames 45-27 after intermission
? A.J. Tyler and Isaac Sosa each scored 13 points in the winning effort

UCF-JU Connections
? Although he is 0-1 as a head coach against the Knights, Jacksonville's Cliff Warren does have some success versus UCF
? As a junior at Mt. St. Mary's during the 1988-89 season, Warren played against the Knights
? On March 4, 1989, Warren scored eight points as the Mountaineers claimed a 99-92 win over the Knights at the Education Gym in Orlando as part of the Merrill Lynch Classic
? UCF's P.J. Gaynor is a Jacksonville native who starred at Mandarin High School

End of an Era
? The contest against Jacksonville will serve as the final game of the decade for the Knights
? The 2000s were a success for head coach Kirk Speraw as the program went to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and posted a 184-126 overall mark

Approaching History
? In his 17th year with the Knights, Kirk Speraw has 272 victories at UCF and needs only three wins to become the winningest coach in program history
? Torchy Clark, who coached the Knights from 1969-83, won 274 games in Orlando

Home Success
? UCF is 6-0 at home this year, and has claimed 16-consecutive non-league games at the UCF Arena
? In 2009-10, the Knights have a +14.2 scoring margin at home, where they are averaging 75.5 points
? In away and neutral contests, the squad is averaging just 62.8 points

Super Support
? Yesterday's contest with Liberty was played in front of a UCF Holiday Classic record 4,641 fans
? The previous tournament high was 3,340 when the Knights hosted Penn a year ago
? Despite a limited student attendance due to winter break, Tuesday's attendance was the 20th-best crowd in UCF history
? A year after averaging 4,390 fans, UCF is averaging 5,188 spectators in 2009-10

Fab Freshman
? Keith Clanton had a complete game in the win over Liberty, totaling seven points, five assists, two blocks and a steal to go with a season-best 14 rebounds in 26 minutes
? Five of his rebounds came on the offensive end and his 14 total boards were the second-most in UCF Holiday Classic history
? Clanton leads the Knights this season, averaging 7.0 boards, but is grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game at home

Going Deep
? Isaac Sosa connected on three triples and finished with 13 points versus Liberty
? The sophomore is UCF's leading scorer on the year at 12.1 points an outing
? He is averaging 14.5 points at home, compared to 9.7 away from Orlando
? Sosa is shooting 54.3 percent from 3-point range at home, where he has made 19 of his 32 treys this year

The Dish
? A.J. Rompza recorded five assists yesterday, and is averaging 4.0 per game
? The sophomore needs just two more assists to reach 200 for his career

Nice Shot
? As a freshman last year, A.J. Rompza shot just 29.5 percent overall, making 38-of-129 attempts
? He averaged 4.3 points as his main task was to get the ball to Jermaine Taylor, who was third nationally in scoring at 26.2 points per game
? This season, Rompza is looking to score more, and is shooting much better than a year ago
? The Chicago native has connected on 32-of-76 attempts, and is shooting 42.1 percent from the field

Knight Notes
? UCF recorded 22 assists on 28 made field goals against Liberty
? The Knights have won 14-straight contests at home over in-state opponents
? A season after Jermaine Taylor paced UCF with 24 blocks during the entire campaign, Keith Clanton has already registered 21 blocks in just 12 games