Knights Back Home to Host Southern Miss Saturday

Feb. 25, 2011

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By Doug Richards

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After picking up an impressive victory at Conference USA-leading UTEP earlier in the week, the UCF men's basketball team is back home to host Southern Miss Saturday at the UCF Arena. Tipoff for the contest, which is presented by CCM, is 7 p.m.

The Knights (17-9, 4-9 C-USA) have won three of their last four games. Southern Miss is 21-6 overall and thanks to their 9-4 record in league play, tied for first in C-USA with Memphis and UAB.

On Monday, three UCF players finished with double figures in scoring as the team snapped UTEP's 15-game home winning streak with a 74-68 victory in El Paso. Sophomore forward Keith Clanton (Orlando, Fla.) recorded a double-double versus the Miners with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Tickets for Saturday's game are available by visiting Ticketmaster.com or UCFAthletics.com. The UCF Arena box office will be open Saturday prior to the game. All UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

With 17 victories under new head coach Donnie Jones, the Knights have already surpassed their win total from a year ago, when the squad went 15-17 overall. UCF has played in front of large crowds at home all season, and on Saturday, will surpass the 100,000-fan mark for the first time in school history. The Knights are averaging 8,000 fans in C-USA play, which ranks third in the 12-team league.

Southern Miss has won three-consecutive contests. C-USA Player of the Year candidate Gary Flowers is averaging 19.8 points, good for second in the conference.

Saturday will serve as Scout Day at the UCF Arena. Tickets are priced at just $8 for each boy scout and member of their family. Scout Day participants from across central Florida will have the opportunity to get priority group seating and scoreboard recognition at the game. The scouts will also get a chance to learn more about the game of basketball and enhance their skills at a pregame clinic. For more information on Scout Day, and to order tickets today, troop leaders and parents can contact the UCF ticket sales office at (407) 823-1000 or tickets@athletics.ucf.edu.

UCF-Southern Miss will air on the UCF Sports Network from IMG College and its flagship station, 740 The Game in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call, and will be joined on the broadcast by former UCF standout guard Mike O'Donnell. Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. Live video and statistics will be available at UCFAthletics.com.

After meeting Southern Miss, UCF will host SMU Wednesday in the Knights' regular-season home finale.

Series Record Southern Miss, 5-3
Last Meeting Southern Miss 86, UCF 69 (Jan. 15, 2011 in Hattiesburg)

? The Golden Eagles have a 5-3 advantage in the all-time series with UCF, and have won three-straight contests over the Knights
? UCF has won both series matchups with the Golden Eagles in Orlando, most recently a 73-61 triumph on Jan. 21, 2009
? Jermaine Taylor scored 31 points in the win, and Taylor Young dished out nine assists without a turnover
? UCF and Southern Miss met on Jan. 15 in Hattiesburg and Southern miss used a 21-2 run midway through the second half to record an 86-69 victory over the No. 23/22 Knights
? The hosts led 36-35 at halftime, and then outscored UCF 50-34 in the second half
? Marcus Jordan led the Knights with 20 points, and Keith Clanton added 14 points and seven boards
? R.L. Horton paced the Golden Eagles with 18 points
? Home teams are 5-1 during the series' history

An Impressive Victory
? UCF's 74-68 victory at UTEP Monday was impressive on several fronts
? The victory gave UCF a win over the Conference USA-leading Miners, who were receiving eight votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
? The Knights' victory also snapped a 15-game home winning streak for the Miners, giving UTEP its first loss as the Don Haskins Center in league play
? UCF and Pacific, who topped the Miners in the season-opener for both squads, are the only teams to beat UTEP in El Paso this year
? The contest at UTEP served as UCF's third road game in three days
? The game was originally slated for Feb. 2, but was postponed until Monday because of a winter storm in El Paso

Getting Back on Track
? After going through a difficult stretch in January and February that included an eight-game losing streak, the Knights are clearly back on track
? UCF has won three of its last four games, picking up two road wins during the stretch
? The Knights went 1-6 in January, but are now 3-3 in February

Last Time Out
? Three Knights finished with double figures in scoring as UCF used a total team effort to pick up an impressive 74-68 victory at UTEP Monday
? UCF led 39-25 at the break after shooting 66.7 percent in the opening stanza, and eventually built its lead to 19 points early in the second half before holding off a furious UTEP rally at the end of the game
? Keith Clanton totaled 15 points and 13 rebounds in the victory, Marcus Jordan added 13 points and P.J. Gaynor totaled 10 points before fouling out
? UCF limited the Miners to 33.3 percent shooting in the opening half
? The Knights trailed for only 18 seconds during the contest
? Despite the 11 a.m. local time start, the game was played in front of 9,824 fans at the Don Haskins Center

? UCF's reserves helped the Knights record the win at UTEP Monday as the team's bench accounted for 24 points, compared to only 10 for the Miners' bench
? A.J. Rompza totaled nine points and four assists in 31 minutes off the bench, Isaiah Sykes added seven points and three boards in 17 minutes and A.J. Tyler totaled eight points and three rebounds in 26 minutes
? Sykes and Rompza combined for 15 points during a 23-8 UCF run midway through the first half that allowed the Knights to take a big lead over the Miners

? Having recorded 17 victories in 2010-11 under new head coach Donnie Jones, UCF has already won two more games than the Knights did a year ago
? UCF's victory at Tulane on Feb. 16 allowed the Knights to surpass their victory total from a year ago, when they went 15-17 overall
? Last year, UCF did not win its 15th game until March 10 at the Conference USA Championship as the Knights won only 14 regular-season contests

Crowd Control
? With two home games remaining on its schedule, UCF has already established a school single-season attendance record
? Through 15 games, 99,938 fans have visited the UCF Arena, for an average of 6,663 per contest
? In 2009-10, UCF set total (81,161 in 15 games) and average (5,411) attendance marks
? This season, six of the top-10 crowds in program history have been recorded
? UCF is averaging 8,000 fans in Conference USA play, which ranks third in the conference behind only Memphis (16,635) and UTEP (9,550)

Free Falling
? The Knights might rank fifth in Conference USA in free-throw percentage (69.7), but the team has shot the ball much better as of late
? UCF shot 81.3 percent at the line in its last four games, including a season-high 94.4 percent (17-of-18) at UAB last Saturday
? That mark was good for fifth on the UCF single-game register
? Monday at UTEP, UCF made 22-of-28 (78.6) shots from the charity stripe

Close Calls
? UCF's last five contests have been decided by a total of 16 points
? UCF has played 13 Conference USA games, and the winning margin in 10 of those contests has been less than 10 points
? The Knights' nine league losses have come by an average of 8.6 points
? UCF's four conference victories have come by an average of 4.3 points
? On the season, UCF is 9-6 in games decided by 10 or fewer points

? Marcus Jordan leads Conference USA with 168 free-throw attempts
? He has hit 135 foul shots, good for fourth on the UCF single-season register
? Jermaine Taylor is next on the list, having hit 138 free throws during his All-America campaign in 2008-09
? Jordan ranks eighth in C-USA in free-throw percentage (80.4)
? In UCF's last four games, which included three victories, Jordan made 22-of-24 (91.7 percent) of his free-throw attempts

Board Work
? Keith Clanton ranks fourth in Conference USA in rebounds per game, grabbing 8.7 each contest
? Monday at UTEP, Clanton recorded 13 boards, to post his eighth double-figure rebound game of the season
? In his last two games, Clanton averaged 12.5 rebounds

Welcome Back
? A.J. Rompza struggled with the effects of a foot injury towards the start of Conference USA play
? The injury, which forced Rompza to miss two games, clearly took its toll on the energetic junior
? Rompza looked more like the point guard that UCF fans have grown to love the last two games, as he averaged 12.0 points while shooting 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from deep in 27.5 minutes per game off the bench
? In his previous nine league games, Rompza averaged 3.8 points in 22.1 minutes and shot 5-of-25 (20.0 percent) from 3-point range

A Senior Moment
? A.J. Tyler helped UCF top host UTEP Monday, totaling eight points and three rebounds in 26 minutes off of the bench
? A versatile big man, Tyler missed seven games during non-conference play due to a hip injury
? When he returned to the floor on Dec. 29, he clearly was not himself, and averaged 2.7 points on just 26.5 percent shooting in his first nine games back
? But Tyler is making a positive contribution again, and the power forward averaged 6.6 points in the team's last six games

Up Next
? UCF will play its final home game of the season Saturday when the Knights host SMU
? The all-time series with the Mustangs is tied, 3-3
? The Knights are 3-0 against SMU in Orlando, as the home team has claimed every matchup in the series
? The contest will serve as Senior Night at the UCF Arena as Tom Herzog, A.J. Tyler and Taylor Young will all play at home for the final time