Jan. 5, 2007
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will conclude the non-conference portion of its 2006-07 schedule on Saturday, facing host South Dakota State. Tip-off at Frost Arena is set for 8 p.m. Eastern.
The Golden Knights (10-3) will be playing the second contest of four-straight games on the road. South Dakota State is 4-11 this year.
The game will be broadcast live on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 THE TEAM AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call live from courtside. Live audio will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.
Series History: UCF and South Dakota State will be meeting for the third-straight year and the all-time series is tied, 1-1. The contest will mark the first series matchup in South Dakota. On Jan. 18, 2006, the Jackrabbits rallied from a 17-point deficit at the half to post a 69-64 victory in Orlando. Matt Cadwell was 11-of-11 at the free-throw line on his way to a game-high 26 points in the win. South Dakota State shot 88 percent at the line and forced 17 UCF turnovers. Josh Peppers paced the Golden Knights with 15 points. In two contests against South Dakota State, Peppers is averaging 15 points and 4.5 rebounds.
About South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits have won two of three games, but most recently dropped a 72-67 contest at Idaho on Dec. 30. Averaging 34.3 minutes an outing, Matt Cadwell leads the team in scoring (14.2 points per game). South Dakota State is scoring 63 points per game, but is allowing 75.7. UCF and South Dakota State have both played at Minnesota this season. The Golden Gophers topped the Jackrabbits, 77-53, on Dec. 9.
UCF Last Time Out: Both Josh Peppers and Jermaine Taylor scored 22 points, but the Golden Knights could not hold on against host Colorado, falling 96-87 on Wednesday. UCF led by two points with seven minutes to play, but the Buffaloes rallied and held on to the lead at the end. The teams combined for 53 fouls and UCF was called for a season-high 31. Colorado was 36-of-45 at the free-throw line. The hosts, who led 38-37 at intermission, shot 52.9 overall for the game and 65.4 percent in the second half.
Talking Points: After averaging just 63.3 points per game last year, the Golden Knights are scoring 78.5 points a contest in 2006-07. The squad eclipsed the 80-point mark only once a year ago, but have already scored more than 80 points in a game on seven occasions this season. UCF owns a +13.4 scoring margin.
Pepp Gets Going: Josh Peppers totaled 22 points at Colorado, continuing his string of recent strong performances. In the last three games, the senior is averaging 19 points. One of the most prolific 3-point shooters in program history, he is 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) from deep during that span.
Shooters: UCF has been one of the most accurate shooting teams in the nation this year. The team is hitting 43.5 percent of its 3-point field-goal attempts, the fifth-best mark in the nation. From the field, the Golden Knights are shooting 49.6 percent, good for 18th nationally. Both of those marks lead Conference USA.
Triple Trouble: The Golden Knights are connecting on 8.8 3-pointers per game and a pair of UCF players are shooting over 50 percent from deep. Jermaine Taylor (51.6 percent) ranks second in Conference USA in 3-point field-goal percentage. Teammate Mike O'Donnell, who is shooting at a 50 percent clip from long distance, is third.
Tough Start to January: UCF plays six of its nine games in January away from Orlando. The stretch starts with four-consecutive road contests. The four-game road swing is the longest for the Golden Knights since the 2000-01 season. That year, the team started the campaign with three games at the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Tournament and then played four-consecutive road games. UCF's first home game came on Dec. 18.
Focal Point: Mike O'Donnell has been outstanding offensively in UCF's last six games. During the span, the junior point guard is averaging 13.8 points and four rebounds. He is averaging 4.7 assists and has committed just eight turnovers. O'Donnell has shot 50 percent from the field and is 52.9 percent from deep, making 18-of-34 3-point attempts. He has scored in double-figures in each of the last six contests.
Super Sophomore: Averaging 24.8 minutes off of the bench in 2006-07, Jermaine Taylor is UCF's leading scorer at 15.5 points per game, good for ninth in Conference USA. In 29 contests last year as a freshman, he scored 130 total points, averaging 4.5 per game. The guard has shown great improvement in 2006-07 and has paced UCF in scoring seven times this season. A year ago as a freshman, the guard scored in double-figures just four times. In 2006-07, he has totaled double-digits in points in 11 of the Golden Knights' 13 games. The Tavares native is shooting 56.8 from the field, a mark that ranks sixth in the conference. He has made 33 triples this year after canning 17 a year ago.
Board Games: Playing 16.5 minutes per game off of the bench, freshman forward Tony Davis paces UCF on the glass, averaging 5.8 rebounds, the 12th-best mark in Conference USA. He ranks eighth in C-USA in defensive rebounds per contest (4.15). Davis has led UCF in rebounds nine times this year and totaled 10 boards in the squad's outing on Dec. 30 against Texas-Pan Am. A candidate for the All-C-USA Freshman Team, he was the Florida Class 6A Player of the Year at Riverview High School in Sarasota.
This Date in UCF History: Playing an Atlantic Sun game at Jacksonville State, Jason Thornton drained eight 3-pointers and finished with 28 points, but the Gamecocks defeated UCF in overtime, 90-83, in 2000. Thornton and D'Quarius Stewart combined for 56 of the Golden Knights' 83 points.
Up Next: UCF opens Conference USA play on the road, facing UAB on Wednesday. The contest will be televised live regionally on CSS. The two squads met for the first time last season and the Blazers recorded a 75-68 victory over UCF in Orlando on Feb. 4. UAB shot 54 percent overall, compared to 39.6 percent for the hosts. Josh Peppers had a game-high 19 points in the loss and Mike O'Donnell added 17 points and eight assists. O'Donnell hit five 3-pointers as the Golden Knights shot 43.3 percent from deep.