No. 19/21 Knights to Open UCF Holiday Classic Presented by EA Sports vs. Furman

Dec. 28, 2010

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By Doug Richards

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Now ranked in both national polls, the No. 19/21 UCF men's basketball team will look to extend its perfect start to the season Wednesday when the Knights host Furman at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena to open the UCF Holiday Classic presented by EA Sports. Off to an 11-0 start under new head coach Donnie Jones, UCF is one of only seven unbeaten squads in the country.

On Monday, UCF moved to 19th in the Associated Press Top 25, and entered the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll at No. 21. UCF is the lone team from Florida ranked in either poll.

The Knights will conclude the UCF Holiday Classic on Thursday, facing either Princeton (9-3) or Northeastern (4-6). The consolation game is scheduled for 5 p.m., followed by the championship at 7:30 p.m.

UCF has not played since picking up a 64-59 victory at UMass on Dec. 22. Junior guard Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) led the Knights with 14 points, and sophomore forward Keith Clanton (Orlando, Fla.) added 13 points and eight boards.

Clanton is averaging a team-high 16.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. Sophomore guard Marcus Jordan (Chicago, Ill.) enters Wednesday's game averaging 15.2 points.

Furman is 8-2 and has won five-consecutive games. Most recently, the Paladins picked up a big 91-75 victory over South Carolina on Dec. 22. Amu Saaka, who began his collegiate career at USF, leads the squad in points (15.1 per game) and rebounds (6.6).

Tickets for the tournament are available at all Ticketmaster outlets or at UCFAthletics.com. On Wednesday, the UCF Arena box office will be open prior to the games. UCF students are admitted free to all home games with a valid school ID.

With UCF's league slate quickly approaching, a special UCF-Conference USA ticket pack is now available. The pack allows fans to grab a lower level ticket to watch the Knights play their eight C-USA home games for only $96, offering a $24 savings over single-game prices. Packages are also available for $80 for upper level seating. To order the pack today, visit UCFAthletics.com or call (407) UCF-1000.

UCF-Furman will air on the UCF Sports Network presented by IMG College and its flagship station, 740 The Game in Orlando. Marc Daniels and Mike O'Donnell will have the call from courtside. Live video and statistics will be available on UCFAthletics.com.

Series Record UCF, 1-0
Last Meeting UCF 84, Furman 77 (Dec. 1, 1979 in Greenville, N.C.)

? UCF has a 1-0 edge in the all-time series with Furman, having defeated the host Paladins, 84-77, on Dec. 1, 1979
? The Knights will be meeting a member of the Southern Conference for the first time since 2006 when UCF fell to Appalachian State, 75-64, at the San Juan Shootout

Last Time Out
? Playing the first game in school history as a ranked team, UCF defeated host UMass, 64-59, on Dec. 22 at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.
? The Knights limited the Minutemen to 31.8 percent shooting overall, and just a 2-of-22 (9.1 percent) showing from 3-point range
? Isaac Sosa led UCF with 14 points, and Keith Clanton added 13 points, eight boards and four blocks
? Marcus Jordan played just 15 minutes, all in the second half, due to an ankle injury, and hit five free throws and finished with seven points

Turnaround Time
? Highlighting the job that Donnie Jones has done in his first season at UCF, of the 27 teams currently ranked in either the Associated Press Top 25 or the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, UCF is the lone squad that did not participate in the postseason a year ago
? Twenty-three of the ranked teams played in the NCAA Tournament, and three more competed in the postseason NIT

Fast Forward
? The Knights picked up their 11th win of the campaign on Dec. 22 at UMass
? A year ago, UCF did not win its 11th contest until Feb. 2

Non-League Success
? UCF's victories this year have all come against non-league foes, and the 11 non-conference wins tie a school single-season record
? In 2006-07, the Knights went 11-3 before opening Conference USA play

A Super Start
? UCF's 11-0 start to the season is the best by a Conference USA team since Memphis won its first 26 games in 2007-08
? The Tigers went 38-2 that season and advanced to the national title game

State Champs
? Following the Knights' win over Miami on Dec. 18, many in the media were calling UCF the state champions, and for good reason
? UCF has faced and defeated three of the four "power conference" programs in the state - No. 16 Florida, Miami and USF
? In total, the Knights went 6-0 against Sunshine State programs during the non-conference slate

A Familiar Spot
? Donnie Jones is no stranger to impressive undefeated starts
? As an assistant at Florida in 2005-06, he was a part of a team that opened the campaign with 17-straight wins
? The Gators claimed the national title that season, and finished the year with a 33-6 mark

Home for the Holidays
? Since the inception of the UCF Holiday Classic in 2004, the Knights are 9-3 at the event
? A year ago, UCF defeated Liberty, 82-58, in the first round, then fell to Jacksonville, 61-51, in the title game

The Defense Never Rests
? UCF boasts one of the nation's top defenses as the Knights rank 12th in the country in scoring defense, limiting opponents to just 56.5 points per game
? This year, only two of the team's foes have scored over 60 points
? The Knights are also among the national leaders in field-goal percentage defense (35.8)

A Complete Player
? Keith Clanton is certainly doing it all for the Knights this season
? The sophomore is filling up the stat sheet each game, and currently ranks in the top-10 in Conference USA in four key categories - points per game (8th/16.4), rebounds per game (4th/8.7), field-goal percentage (3rd/57.3) and blocks per game (2nd/1.9)

The Sixth Man
? Despite coming off of the bench, Isaac Sosa is third on the team in scoring at 10.0 points per game
? Sosa, who is averaging 25.6 minutes, has paced the team in points on four occasions
? One of the top shooters in the country, he has hit 25 3-pointers in 2010-11, and is shooting 44.1 percent from deep, which ranks fifth in Conference USA

A Career Year
? Tom Herzog, who is in his first and lone year at UCF, has had a huge impact with the Knights
? Herzog, who has battled a wrist injury since Nov. 18, has appeared in nine games with the Knights after transferring from Michigan State, where he spent four campaigns
? The 7-footer ranks 11th nationally in blocks per game at 3.0
? Herzog appeared in 44 career games as a Spartan, but is obviously enjoying the best year of his career
? Herzog totaled 44 points, 43 rebounds and 14 blocked shots while at Michigan State, and in nine games at UCF, has recorded 49 points, 35 rebounds and 27 blocks

Up Next
? The Knights will conclude the UCF Holiday Classic against either Northeastern or Princeton Thursday
? UCF has never faced the Huskies or the Tigers on the hardwood