Men's Hoops Set to Host No. 3 Houston

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ORLANDO – The UCF men's basketball team returns home after a two-game road trip to host No. 3 Houston on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Black and Gold return home for the first time since their thrilling double overtime victory over Memphis in a 107-104 final.

Wednesday's contest will be the first time in program history that UCF hosts a top-five opponent. The Black and Gold's last victory over a top-five opponent came at the Battle 4 Atlantis as UCF topped No. 4 UConn on Nov. 25, 2011.

The Knights and Cougars are both coming off tough losses. Houston, who was ranked No. 1 last week, was upset by Temple 56-55 at home to snap a nine-game winning streak. UCF also suffered a defeat its last time out, losing 85-72 to South Florida in Tampa.

A UCF win would pull the Knights within one game of the top of the American Athletic Conference standings, which are currently led by Houston with a 6-1 mark in conference play. Temple is just behind Houston with a record of 6-2 and will visit the Knights on Saturday at noon.

The Black and Gold's offense was on par with how they've been so far this season, posting 72 points after averaging 72.1 all season. Four players finished with double digit points as C.J. Kelly led the way with 18 points, Ithiel Horton was second on the team in scoring with 15 and was followed closely by Brandon Suggs with 13 and Taylor Hendricks with 12. Hendricks was one rebound shy of his fifth double-double of the season.

Horton, who has been a standout on UCF's offense all season, is just 14 points away from reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career. He posted 436 points in his freshman campaign at Delaware and netted 196 and 127 points in the following two seasons at Pitt. So far, Horton has recorded 227 points as a member of the Knights, averaging 11.9 points a game. During conference play, Horton has been UCF's second-leading scorer, averaging 13.4 points per contest.

The Knights have been remarkable at home this season, going 9-2 at Addition Financial Arena. Protecting home court has been a big part of head coach Johnny Dawkins' legacy at UCF, going 80-23 in his seven years at the helm. Historically, UCF is 6-8 against the Cougars when playing them in Orlando.

Houston is 18-2 overall this season and has spent four weeks as the No. 1 team in the nation this season. The Cougars' recent loss to Temple dropped them to No. 3 in the country behind No. 1 Purdue and No. 2 Alabama. Marcus Sasser has been the team's leader in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game. Just behind him are Tramon Mark and Jarace Walker, both averaging 10.1 points per game. Walker has been named as the American Athletic Conference's Rookie of the Week four times, trailing Hendricks who has won the honor six times thus far. Sasser has been named the conference's Player of the Week once. Both Sasser and Walker were tabbed as the preseason favorites to win The American's Player and Rookie of the Year honors.

UCF has already faced Houston once this year, falling by just six on the road in a 71-65 final on New Year's Eve. The Knights led the Cougars for 7:26 of game time, which on the day of the game was the fifth most amount by a Houston opponent this season. That mark was behind three top 25 teams at the time of Virginia, Alabama and St. Mary's, as well as Kent State. The Knights built a lead as big as four points in the contest, hitting that mark with 15 minutes to play.

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