Feb. 16, 2006
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ORLANDO - After a pair of home games, the UCF men's basketball team returns to the road on Saturday, facing SMU in Dallas. Tip-off for the Conference USA contest is slated for 8 p.m. Eastern at Moody Coliseum.
The Golden Knights (10-12, 4-5 C-USA) have used a balanced scoring effort in their recent games. Three players - Josh Peppers (12.5), Justin Rose (10.6) and Anthony Williams (10.3) - are averaging double-digits in scoring. In the last three games, UCF's bench is averaging 32 points.
UCF currently sits in sixth-place in the league standings with five games to play in the regular season.
SMU is 11-12 overall and 3-7 in C-USA.
The game will be aired live on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, WQTM - 740 THE TEAM. Marc Daniels will have the call from courtside. Audio of the contest is also available on www.UCFathletics.com as part of the "Golden Knights All-Access" package.
UCF LAST TIME OUT
Despite having four players finish with double-digits in scoring, UCF dropped a 78-71 decision to visiting Houston on Wednesday. The Cougars hit 12 three-pointers, including nine in the first half. Josh Peppers scored 17 points for the Golden Knights and Anthony Williams posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. UCF was 23-of-34 (67.6 percent) at the free-throw line.
SMU has lost three-consecutive games and five of its last six. On Wednesday, the host Mustangs fell in overtime to Marshall, 75-72. The hosts had just two field goals in the overtime session and were outrebounded, 46-31, for the game. Bryan Hopkins led the Mustangs with 21 points and six steals. He is one of the top offensive players in Conference USA, averaging 15.6 points. He is also SMU's all-time leader in steals (215).
Opponents are averaging only 63.6 points versus the Mustangs, who have one of the top defensive players in the nation in Bamba Fall. The 7-foot-1 freshman is averaging 3.7 blocks per game. Devon Pearson (7.7) is the team's top rebounder.
UCF and SMU have never met on the hardwood. The Golden Knights will be playing in Texas for the second time this year as the squad defeated host Houston on Jan. 14 (66-56). Prior to the contest with the Cougars, UCF had not played in the Lone Star State since the 1991-92 season when it faced Sun Belt Conference foes Lamar and UT-Pan American. All-time, UCF is 3-5 in games played in Texas.
UCF senior guard Troy Lindbeck is very familiar with SMU. Lindbeck's uncle, Schellas Hyndman, is in his 22nd year as the men's soccer head coach at SMU. Lindbeck attended the Mustang Soccer Camp in Dallas as a 10-year old.
In UCF's last two contests, its bench has averaged 43 points. The Golden Knight reserves accounted for 47 points against Houston on Wednesday, compared to 24 for the starters. Josh Peppers, who came off of the bench for the first time in 42 games versus Tulane on Feb. 11, is averaging 14 points in the last two contests as a reserve.
With an increase in playing time, freshman guard Jermaine Taylor has excelled as of late. Against Houston on Wednesday, he scored a career-high 16 points in 25 minutes. He hit six field goals against the Cougars. In UCF's last two games, Taylor is averaging 12 points, 4.5 rebounds and two steals. The Tavares, Fla., native has seen action in all 22 games this year.
This season, UCF has already faced three nationally-ranked teams (Florida, Kentucky, Memphis). Last year, the Golden Knights played only one ranked team and that came against Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2005-06, UCF has played six squads - Florida, Kentucky, UAB, Houston, Memphis and Western Kentucky - that participated in the postseason last year.
The Golden Knights have played five teams this season ranked in the top-60 of the latest (Feb. 14) RPI report. Conference USA opponents Memphis (5), UAB (50) and Houston (59) are all in the top-60. Florida (18), Kentucky (44) and Western Kentucky (48) are also listed.
In his first season at UCF, Mike O'Donnell leads the squad with 91 assists. His 4.1 assists per game average is the sixth-best mark in Conference USA. O'Donnell's 2.53 assist/turnover ratio ranks second in the league.
THE STARTING LINEUP
UCF has used six different starting lineups this season. Seven Golden Knights have recorded starts in 2005-06, but only one player, Mike O'Donnell, has started every game. Prior to coming off of the bench against Tulane on Feb. 11, Josh Peppers had started 41-consecutive contests.
THIS DATE IN UCF HISTORY
On Feb. 18, 1999, UCF and host Jacksonville combined for 46 turnovers, but the Golden Knights hit 15-of-18 foul shots in the second half to earn a 65-60 win over the Dolphins. Jason Thornton paced UCF with 15 points and Cory Perry chipped in with 11 points.
UCF returns home to host East Carolina on Wednesday... UCF has a 3-0 edge in the all-time series and the squads will be meeting in Orlando for the second time... On Jan. 25 in Greenville, N.C., Justin Rose scored 18 points to lift UCF to a 64-59 win over the host Pirates. The Golden Knights shot 60.9 percent from the field in the first half and 46.5 percent for the game. The Pirates trailed by only five late in the contest, but the Golden Knights hit six free throws in the final 1:30 to secure the victory. Anthony Williams totaled 11 of his 14 points in the first half. Corey Rouse paced the Pirates with 22 points and 12 rebounds in the losing effort... In the only series meeting in Orlando, UCF posted an 88-81 victory over East Carolina on Dec. 30, 2000. Paul Reed scored a game-high 22 points for the Golden Knights.