Preview: Knights Return Home to Host NJIT Saturday

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ORLANDO –  The UCF men's basketball team looks to extend its winning streak to three games when the Knights host NJIT on Saturday at 12 p.m. at Addition Financial Arena.
The Knights (5-2) come home after their second win this season against Charleston, topping the Cougars 77-56, and a 13-point win against Pepperdine at the Paycom Wood Legacy tournament.  
Collin Smith led the Knights in scoring in two out of three games in California and leads the Knights with 15.4 points per game, which ranks seventh in the American Athletic Conference.  
This is the first game in series between the Knights and Highlanders. NJIT (2-6), which is looking for its first win since Nov. 16, is led by Zach Cooks, who is averaging 23.3 points per game and has knocked down 18 3-pointers on the season. 
Date: Saturday, Dec. 7
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Audio: FM 96.9 The Game
SETTING THE SCENE                                                                       

  • The UCF men's basketball team returns home after going 2-1 in the Paycom Wooden Legacy tournament over the Thanksgiving holiday. The Knights will play NJIT in the first of four straight home games late in the non-conference schedule
  • It marks the first meeting between the Knights and the Highlanders in the history of the two programs.
  • UCF is 2-1 at home this season, having defeated Prairie View A&M and Charleston, but losing to Miami back on Nov. 12.

SMITH'S STRONG START TO SECOND SEASON                                   

  • Junior forward Collin Smith has shown consistent improvement in his second year at UCF and his third playing college basketball.
  • Smith averaged 5.3 points and 4.4 rebounds as a freshman at George Washington, increased that to 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds last season with the Knights, and now leads UCF with 15.4 points per game and is grabbing 6.6 boards per contest.
  • With Tacko Fall gone this season, Smith has taken on a larger role on both sides of the floor.
  • The 6-foot-11 forward ranks seventh in the conference in scoring through seven games, while shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and 68.4 percent from the free throw line.

CAPITALIZING AGAINST COUGARS                                                          

  • The  Knights had one of if not their best overall performance of the season thus far in their 77-56 defeat of Charleston in the fifth-place game of the Paycom Wooden Legacy on Sunday.
  • UCF was efficient offensively, shooting 48.3 percent from the floor, the team's second highest mark in seven games this season.
  • The Knights recorded a season-high 19 assists and only turned the ball over five times, their least turnovers in a single game since Dec. 5, 2015 against Illinois-Chicago.
  • It marked the first time this season UCF held its opponent under 60 points, and Charleston's 37.3 field goal percentage was a season-best for the Knights.

HAIL CEASAR                                                    

  • Ceasar DeJesus led the Knights with a career-high 21 points in the win over Pepperdine.
  • He went 8-for-10 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, as UCF's bench outscored the Waves' bench 40-14.
  • DeJesus started every game of his freshman season in 2016-17, before taking a reserve role for much of the last two years.

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