Knights to Open C-USA Play Saturday at Home

Jan. 8, 2010

Complete Release in PDF Format

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - On Saturday, the UCF men's basketball team will open Conference USA play with a 5 p.m. contest against visiting Rice at the UCF Arena. The Knights have claimed three-straight conference home openers.

UCF (8-6) is 6-1 at home this year. Head coach Kirk Speraw has received strong play from his freshmen as of late, especially guard Marcus Jordan (Highland Park, Ill.). At 14th-ranked Ole Miss Tuesday, Jordan matched a career-best with 13 points, and also added four steals. In the team's last five games, he averaged 8.8 points.

Sophomore guard Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) is the team's top scorer at 11.5 points per game. He is averaging 14.1 points at home. After recording three swipes at Ole Miss, sophomore guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) ranks ninth nationally, averaging 2.9 steals per game.

Rice (6-8, 0-1 C-USA) is led by freshmen Tamir Jackson (11.4 ppg) and Arsalan Kazemi (10.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

UCF will play eight league games in Orlando, and fans can take advantage of the "Pick Your Starting Five" ticket plan. The plan allows fans to select lower bowl tickets to five games for their choice for as little as $45. To purchase the "Pick Your Starting Five" plan today, call (407) UCF-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com.

On Saturday, the UCF Arena box office will be open before the game. All UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

The contest will be televised live in central Florida on Bright House Sports Network. David Baumann will handle the play-by-play duties, while former UCF standout guard Mike O'Donnell will provide color commentary. CSS will also air the game throughout the southeast on a tape-delayed basis, starting at 6 p.m. Marc Daniels will have the call from the arena on the UCF-ISP Sports Network's broadcast of the contest. In Orlando, fans can listen on 740 The Game. Live video and statistics 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-Rice Series Information
? UCF has a 6-3 edge in the all-time series with Rice
? In Orlando, UCF leads 2-1
? UCF and Rice met twice last year, with the visiting team taking both contests
? At the UCF Arena a year ago, the Owls held on for a 69-66 win on Feb. 25, 2009, despite a career-high 45 points from Jermaine Taylor
? Taylor scored 26 of the Knights' 30 second-half points as the hosts nearly erased a 20-point deficit late in the game
? The Owls led 64-45 with 6:57 remaining, but Taylor scored 19 points during a 21-5 UCF run to close the game
? Taylor had the chance to tie the game with two seconds to go, but his 3-point attempt from the corner was off the mark
? Rodney Foster led the Owls with 22 points
? Taylor was the lone Knight to finish the game with double digits in points
? UCF topped Rice, 77-52, in Houston on Jan. 17, 2009

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will return to action Wednesday, hosting Marshall in a nationally-televised game on CBS College Sports
? The home team took both contests a year ago, and the all-time series is tied, 4-4

Last Time Out
? No. 14 Ole Miss raced out to an early lead, and then rolled to an 84-56 victory over the visiting Knights Tuesday
? The Rebels shot 64.3 percent overall in the first half, and made 7-of-13 3-point attempts before intermission to take a 46-24 advantage into halftime

Open House
? UCF has won three-straight home Conference USA openers
? After two league road contests, the Knights won their C-USA debut a year ago, registering a 77-52 victory over Southern Miss

League Luck
? Since the Knights moved to the UCF Arena in 2007, UCF is 11-4 in Conference USA home games
? The Knights were 5-3 in conference action in Orlando a year ago

Tough Slate
? Despite having one of the nation's youngest teams, UCF faced the toughest non-league schedule in program history
? The Knights played at three BIG EAST programs (Notre Dame, USF, No. 14 UConn) and also had two games versus SEC schools (Auburn, at No. 14 Ole Miss)

Approaching History
? In his 17th year with the Knights, Kirk Speraw has 272 victories at UCF and needs only three 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

The Orlando 500
? Kirk Speraw has coached in 494 contests during his time at UCF
? The Knights' Jan. 27 tilt at SMU will serve as his 500th game with the Knights

Crowded House
? Thanks to an exciting young squad, and some successful marketing efforts, attendance is on the rise for the Knights
? UCF is currently averaging 5,034 fans per game at the UCF Arena
? Through seven home contests a year ago, the Knights were averaging 3,662 spectators
? UCF is on pace to set a home single-season attendance record
? The current records (78,253 total/4,891 per game) were established during the inaugural 2007-08 campaign at the UCF Arena

The Future Starts Now
? Underclassmen are responsible for 74.1 percent of UCF's points this year
? Freshmen and sophomores have also played 74.5 of the team's minutes

On Line
? Three Knights currently rank among the Conference USA leaders in free-throw percentage
? A.J. Tyler has made 30-of-36 attempts, and ranks fourth at 83.3 percent
? Having made 35-of-43 tries (81.4 percent), A.J. Rompza is ninth, and Taylor Young, who has connected on 29-of-36 shots (80.6) at the line, is 11th

Comfortable at Home
? A.J. Tyler has made all 13 of his free-throw attempts at home this season
? In his second season with the Knights, Tyler is shooting 89.7 percent from the line at the UCF Arena for his career, having made 35-of-39 attempts

Immediate Impact
? Keith Clanton, considered to be the top recruit in program history, has made an immediate impact in his first year at UCF
? The Orlando native garnered all-tournament team honors at the UCF Holiday Classic last week after averaging 8.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in two contests at event
? In UCF's semifinal tilt with Liberty, the Orlando native grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds
? He concluded the tournament with 10 points and 11 rebounds versus Jacksonville for his second double-double of the year
? The power forward is averaging 8.8 points and a team-best 7.3 boards in 2009-10
? Clanton finished his senior campaign at Orlando Christian Prep as the 68th-best senior in the country according to Rivals.com

Knowing the Score
? At Ole Miss on Tuesday, A.J. Rompza scored a career-high 16 points
? The contest marked the first time during his career that the sophomore led the Knights in scoring
? Last season, Rompza's 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 to go with 5.2 assists an outing
? Without Taylor, the point guard is looking to score more this season and is averaging 8.7 points

It Takes a Thief
? A.J. Rompza ranks ninth nationally in steals, averaging 2.9 per game
? The sophomore totaled 46 steals in 29 games last year, and already has 40 swipes in 2009-10

Forward Pass
? A.J. Rompza is averaging 3.9 assists per game, good for ninth in Conference USA
? The sophomore has dished out 205 assists during his time at UCF
? During this season, Rompza should enter the top-10 all-time in the category at UCF
? Anthony Haynes (1989-91) and Calvin Lingelbach (1973-77) currently occupy the 10th spot with 244 assists

Big Games Against Big Teams
? Marcus Jordan has recorded his best contests of the year against the most recognizable names on UCF's schedule
? In games at three BIG EAST schools (Notre Dame, USF, No. 14 UConn) and versus two SEC programs (Auburn, at No. 14 Ole Miss), Jordan averaged 10.6 points in 24.4 minutes while shooting 63.3 percent overall, and 62.5 percent from deep
? Jordan has appeared in all 14 of the Knights' contests this year, and is averaging 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 20.0 minutes as a reserve
? In UCF's last five games, Jordan averaged 8.8 points in 24.6 minutes of action