UCF Begins C-USA Championship Wednesday

March 8, 2011

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By Doug Richards

Complete Release in PDF Format

EL PASO, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will open play at the 2011 Buick Conference USA Championship Wednesday when the Knights meet East Carolina at the Don Haskins Center. UCF is the No. 9 seed at the tournament, and will face the No. 8 Pirates at 1 p.m. Eastern in the opening round.

Fans in Orlando can listen to the game on the UCF Sports Network from IMG College and its flagship station, 740 The Game.

The winner of the opening round game will meet top seed UAB in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

Donnie Jones' Knights (19-10, 6-10 C-USA) concluded the regular season by winning five of their final seven games. On Monday, sophomores Marcus Jordan (Chicago, Ill.) and Keith Clanton (Orlando, Fla.) garnered All-C-USA honors. Jordan, who leads the squad and ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 15.9 points per game, was named to the all-league second team, while Clanton (13.9 points, 8.2 rebounds per game) was an All-C-USA Third Team selection.

East Carolina ended the regular season 16-14 and 8-8 in league play. The Pirates' Jontae Sherrod, who is averaging 15.6 points an outing, garnered all-conference third team accolades.

The winner of the C-USA Championship title will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Last year, seventh-seed Houston took the title.

Thanks to their high RPI and impressive strength of schedule, the Knights are also candidates for other postseason events, including the National Invitation Tournament and the College Basketball Invitational.

Marc Daniels will have the call on the UCF Sports Network broadcast of the game. His pregame show will begin at 12:30 p.m. Live video, audio and statistics will be available at UCFAthletics.com.

Series Record UCF, 11-4
Last Meeting East Carolina 68, UCF 61 (Feb. 5 in Greenville)

? The Knights have an 11-4 edge in the all-time series with East Carolina, but the Pirates have won three-straight games in the series
? This year, East Carolina swept the series, winning 74-62 in Orlando on Jan. 19 and 68-61 on Feb. 5 in Greenville
? In two games against East Carolina this season, Marcus Jordan averaged 17.5 points
? Jordan totaled 24 points at East Carolina, when he went 10-of-14 at the line
? The Pirates' Jontae Sherrod averaged 22.0 points versus the Knights this year
? UCF and East Carolina will be meeting for the second time at the Conference USA Championship
? The squads squared off in the opening round of the 2006 tournament in Memphis, and playing in its first C-USA Championship, the Knights rolled to a 65-52 victory
? Donnie Jones is 5-3 all-time versus the Pirates
? The Knights are 2-5 all-time at the Conference USA Championship since joining the league in 2005
? In 2010, ninth-seed UCF went 1-1 at the event in Tulsa, Okla., defeating eighth-seed SMU in the opening round (69-53) and falling to top-seed UTEP (76-54) in the quarterfinals
? At the Division I level, UCF is 23-13 in conference tournament contests
? The Knights won four league championship titles (1994, 1996, 2004, 2005) before joining C-USA when UCF was a member of the Atlantic Sun

An Impressive Résumé
? Under new head coach Donnie Jones, UCF built an impressive résumé during the season
? Now in contention for a spot in the postseason, the Knights went 7-6 against top-100 RPI squads
? UCF is 59th in the CBSSports.com RPI and has wins over Florida (10), Marshall (49), Princeton (51), Southern Miss (52), UTEP (60), Miami (64) and Tulsa (82)
? The team's most impressive victory came on Dec. 1 when the Knights defeated 16th-ranked Florida, 57-54, on a neutral court

Facing the Best
? CBSSsports.com rates UCF's strength of schedule as the 47th-toughest in the nation, and the top schedule among the 12 Conference USA programs
? During the regular season, UCF played top-100 squads on 13 occasions

Last Time Out
? Marshall used a big first half to post an 83-69 victory over the Knights Saturday in front of a capacity crowd of 9,036 fans at the Cam Henderson Center
? The Thundering Herd led 43-27 after the break after shooting 50.0 percent in the opening stanza
? The Knights got within 12 points with 10:33 to go in the game, but could get no closer the rest of the way
? Marcus Jordan paced the Knights with 27 points, while Damier Pitts scored 25 points for the Herd
? The physical contest featured six technical fouls and one ejection for a flagrant foul

Honor Roll
? On Monday, Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton earned All-Conference USA honors
? Jordan earned a spot on the All-C-USA Second Team, while Clanton was named to the third team
? The pair of honorees marks the first time that two UCF players have been all-league selections in the same season since 2004-05 when Gary Johnson and Josh Peppers were both named to the All-Atlantic Sun Second Team

? Having recorded 19 victories in 2010-11 under new head coach Donnie Jones, UCF has already won four 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
? Last year, UCF went 15-17 and did not win its 15th game until March 10 at the Conference USA Championship

Seeking a Milestone
? Despite having a new head coach who has introduced a new style of play, the Knights need just one victory to reach the 20-win mark for the season
? Since joining the Division I ranks in 1984, UCF has recorded just five 20-win campaigns
? The last 20-win season came in 2006-07 when the Knights went 22-9, and is the only 20-victory campaign since the program moved to Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 academic year

Home Away From Home
? The Knights should be familiar with their surroundings during the Conference USA Championship, as the event marks the team's third trip to El Paso this season
? UCF traveled to El Paso to face UTEP on Feb. 2, but the game at the Don Haskins Center was not played due to the effects of a winter storm
? The Knights spent three days in El Paso, practicing twice, but playing no game
? The contest was rescheduled for Feb. 21 and UCF posted a 74-68 win over the Miners
? The tournament marks UCF's fourth trip to Texas this season, as the squad also played at Houston (Jan. 8)

Early Starters
? The Knights should have been excited when they learned that they will meet East Carolina at 11 a.m. Mountain as the team is 3-0 in day games this season
? UCF is 1-0 in day games in El Paso, as its rescheduled game against the Miners was played at 11 a.m. local time on Feb. 21, which served as President's Day

Feeling Neutral
? UCF will be seeking its third win on a neutral court this year when it faces East Carolina
? The Knights defeated No. 16 Florida, 57-54, on Dec. 1 at the Amway Center in Orlando, and topped Miami, 84-78, on Dec. 18 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise

On Line
? The Knights have done a good job of getting to the free-throw line this season
? The squad has attempted 708 foul shots in 29 games, compared to 644 in 32 contests in 2009-10
? UCF is shooting 69.6 percent at the line, but closed the regular season by making 76.0 percent of its attempts in the team's last five games

Swat Team
? UCF has already established a school single-season blocks record with 172 swats in 29 contests
? After totaling just 95 blocks in 32 games last year, the Knights are sixth nationally, averaging 5.9 blocks
? The previous UCF single-season blocks record was 143 in 2004-05
? Tom Herzog (54 blocks) is second in Conference USA and is 42nd in the country with 2.2 blocks per game, and Keith Clanton (55 blocks) is third in the conference at 1.9

Free Trade
? Marcus Jordan has connected on 153 free throws, and needs just five foul shots to match the UCF single-season record
? Mike Clark currently holds the record, having hit 158 in 1970-71, just the second year of the program
? Jordan leads Conference USA with 189 free-throw attempts and ranks sixth in the league in free-throw percentage (81.0)
? In UCF's last seven games, which included five victories, Jordan made 40-of-45 (88.9 percent) of his free-throw attempts

Settle the Score
? Marcus Jordan has scored in double figures in 26 of UCF's 29 games this season, and has totaled at least 20 points eight times
? As a freshman, he had 11 double-digit scoring performances, with one over 20 points

Doing It All
? Marcus Jordan is one of just two players in Conference USA who ranks in the top 10 in the league in both scoring and assists
? He is seventh in points per game (15.9) and 10th in assists per game (3.3)
? Jordan is joined by Marshall's DeAndre Kane, who ranks 10th in scoring (15.1) and eighth in assists (3.5)

Board Work
? Keith Clanton ranks fifth in Conference USA in rebounds per game, grabbing 8.2 each contest
? Clanton has 239 boards on the season after totaling 217 in 32 games as a freshman, and needs just five rebounds to move into the top 10 on the school single-season register

Trey Songz
? Isaac Sosa is quickly moving up the UCF career 3-pointers register and is now fourth in program history with 186 triples
? Mike O'Donnell (2005-08) is third with 195 career treys
? This year, Sosa has connected on 56 triples, and is seventh in Conference USA in 3-point field-goal percentage at 39.7

Smart Guy
? For the second-consecutive season, Isaac Sosa has earned a spot on the five-man Conference USA Men's Basketball All-Academic Team
? A finance major, Sosa boasts a 3.55 grade point average

Up Next
? The winner of UCF-East Carolina will face top seed UAB in the Conference USA Championship quarterfinals Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern in a game that will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports