UCF Holiday Classic Preview

Dec. 27, 2011

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By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF will be looking to continue its long non-conference home winning streak when play begins at the UCF Holiday Classic Thursday. The Knights will open the two-day event at the UCF Arena at 7 p.m. against local foe Stetson.

James Madison and Rhode Island are also competing at the tournament, which will conclude on Friday with the championship game at 7 p.m., followed by the consolation contest.

UCF has claimed 17-straight victories at home against non-league opponents.

Here is a look at the UCF Holiday Classic field:

UCF Knights
Record: 8-3
Key Victories: vs. No. 4 UConn, vs. College of Charleston, Old Dominion
Top Players: Marcus Jordan (17.1 ppg), Keith Clanton (16.4 pgg, 9.4 rpg), Isaiah Sykes (10.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

The Knights are 6-0 at home this season and topped an Old Dominion team that has participated in two-straight NCAA Tournaments in their last home contest on Dec. 17. Jordan and Clanton have led the way for the Knights, who have also gotten strong performances from players like Sykes and Tristan Spurlock. UCF snapped a four-game winning streak on Dec. 21 as host Louisiana-Lafayette escaped with a 61-60 win over the Knights. For day two of the UCF Holiday Classic, UCF will have the services of A.J. Rompza for the first time this season as the senior guard was forced to miss the team's first 12 games of the campaign.

Stetson Hatters
Record: 4-6
Key Victories: Bethune-Cookman, East Tennessee State
Top Players: Chris Perez (13.2 ppg) Adam Pegg (12.0 ppg)

Stetson has been led by Chris Perez. The sophomore guard is averaging 13.2 points per game. The Hatters have lost three games in a row, but the stretch included a contest at Indiana. Former UCF guard Amara Thompson made his Stetson debut in the team's 88-81 loss to Charleston Southern on Dec. 21 and totaled five points in nine minutes of action.

James Madison Dukes
Record: 6-3
Key Victories: at George Washington, at Penn, at Rider
Top Players: A.J. Davis (18.3 ppg), Humpty Hitchens (16.4 ppg, 4.9 apg)

James Madison is coming off of an impressive 62-57 victory at George Washington on Dec. 22. A.J. Davis had 22 points in the victory. James Madison has won two-straight games and is shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range this season. Davis, who is averaging a team-best 18.3 points, has hit 22 triples, while Hitchens has made 24 shots from deep.

Rhode Island Rams
Record: 1-11
Key Victory: Hofstra
Top Players: Jamal Wilson (16.4 ppg), Orion Outerbridge (12.2 ppg)

The Rams have had a difficult start to the season, and will be looking to get back on track when in Orlando. Rhode Island's tough schedule has included contests at Texas and Nebraska, a home tilt with Virginia Tech and a recent contest at in-state rival Providence. Help has arrived in the form of Virginia transfer guard Billy Baron, who is now eligible after missing the first semester.