UCF Seeking Fifth Straight To Close Out 2003 Slate

ORLANDO – The UCF (6-2) men's basketball team will be back in action following a holiday respite and return home for the first time in three games as they host Tennessee-Martin (4-6) on Tuesday, Dec. 30. Tip off between the Golden Knights and the Skyhawks is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Knights enter the game with a four-game win streak and have defeated the opposition by an average of 12 points a game during the modest streak. Dexter Lyons has led UCF in scoring during the run netting 21.5 a contest. The 6-5 senior is coming off a career high 25 points against Niagara (12/22). A game that also saw him set career marks in field goals made (10) and three pointers (4). He enters the game as one of three players averaging double figures in scoring leading the way with 15.6 a game. Roberto Morentin (is second in scoring and first on the team in rebounding combining for 11.6 and 7.8 a game respectively. Josh Bodden rounds out the group with 10.6 point and 7.1 boards a game.

The Knights have gotten the job done defensively so far this season limiting opponents to 61.2 points a game and grabbing nearly 10 steals a contest. Behind both Morentin and Bodden, UCF has been very effective on the boards snagging 5.1 more a game than its opponents. UCF has been outrebounded only once this season, while finishing tied on another occasion.
UCF, which is 0-1 against UT-Martin all-time, is in search of its first five-game win streak since the 1998-99 season. The game also marks the final out-of-conference game for the Knights this season.

The Coaches: UCF is coached by Kirk Speraw, who is in his 11th season at the helm of the Golden Knights. A 1980 graduate of Iowa, Speraw was an assistant at Florida prior to coming to UCF. Previously he was head coach at Pensacola Junior College where he was named National Junior College Coach of the Year after the 1989-90 season. During his time at UCF he has led the Golden Knights to two Atlantic Sun Tournament titles and two subsequent NCAA Tournament appearances since being named head coach in July 1993.

The Skyhawks are led by fifth-year head coach Bret Campbell. Entering the contest against UCF, Campbell has posted a 53-70 mark at the helm of the Skyhawks. Under his guidance, UT-Martin has advanced to the postseason OVC Tournament for four consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. He has enjoyed double-digit win seasons, including a high of 15 in 2001-02, in each of his years with the Skyhawks. He was named head coach at UT-Martin in March of 1999 after holding a similar capacity at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.

UCF Ties - For Skyhawks head coach Bret Campbell, the trip to Orlando is not just another road game as it is also a homecoming. Campbell served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at UCF from 1989-92 under former head coach Joe Dean Campbell's working relationship with Dean spanned five years as served in the same capacity under Dean at Birmingham Southern. Campbell's stint at UCF was his fourth coaching job as he spent time at BS, Kennesaw State College and served as a graduate assistant at Valdosta State following his playing career prior to working with the Golden Knights.

The Series: This marks just the second time that UCF and Tenn.-Martin have met on the hardwood as the two teams played for the first time last season, with the Knights dropping a 63-58 decision.

Scouting The Skyhawks: UT-Martin, which enters the game at 4-6, will be looking to end a five-game road-losing streak. The last victory for the Skyhawks away from home came back on Nov. 18 against Western Illinois.

UT-Martin, which finished last season with a 14-14 mark, was dealt a blow early in the season as their leading returning scorer and last year's Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year, Earl Bullock sustained a knee injury early in the season. Bullock, who averaged 16.6 points a game last season, played in five games this season and was putting in 10.6 points a game. He was given a medical redshirt.

Justin Smith has stepped up in Bullock's absence to lead the team in scoring pouring in 15.3 points a game. The 6-3 junior leads the squad with 23 3-pointers and is shooting 40 percent from the floor on the season. The only other player to average double figures in scoring is fellow junior Jeremy Kelly who nets 11.7 a contest. Tyler George and Clive Woodfork are the only two Skyhawks to start every game this season. George is the team leader in assists with 5.7 a game, while Woodfork averages a team high 6.4 rebounds a contest. UT-Martin enters the game averaging just under 78 points a game, but is surrendering nearly 79 to the opposition.

When Last We Met: In the first-ever meeting between the Golden Knights and the Skyhawks:
-- Center Roberto Morentin recorded his first double double at UCF scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
-- The Knights snagged a season high 52 rebounds, including a season best 35 on the offensive end.
-- Will Bakanowsky made his second career start at UCF and pulled down a career high 11 rebounds.

-- Playing just its third home game of the season.
-- 0-1 all-time against Tenn-Martin.
-- Looking for its first five-game winning streak since the 1998-99 season. (Feb. 15-26).
-- Outscoring the opposition 72-60 during its four-game win streak.
-- Looking to go 5-2 in non-conference games this season.
-- Playing its final game in 2003.

Lyons Roar: During the course of UCF's four-game win streak, senior Dexter Lyons:
-- Has led the Knights in scoring with a 21.5 points per game average.
-- Established a new career high in scoring on two occasions, most recently scoring 25 points in a win over Niagara (12/22).
-- Knocked down 60 percent of his shots from the floor, averaging 8.5 buckets a contest.
-- Hit a career best 10 shots from the floor and made four three pointers against Niagara (12/22).

Eight In The Books: The Golden Knights have posted a 6-2 mark after the first eight games of the season for just the fourth time in program history. The last time UCF won six of its first eight games to start the season came back in 1993-94. Other 6-2 starts were posted in ‘80-81, ‘77-78 and ‘71-72. In all but one of those seasons, ‘93-94, UCF went on to a 7-2 start. The Knights have started a season 7-1 twice with the last coming back in ‘81-82, the other in ‘76-77. UCF has posted a perfect 8-0 record twice. The first time came back in UCF's inaugural season of basketball in ‘69-70. The Knights repeated the feat again in ‘79-80 and went on to post the best start in school history winning 15 consecutive games to start the year.

After Nine: Head coach Kirk Speraw is looking for his best nine-game start to a season during his time at UCF. Speraw started the 1993-94 season 6-2, but then dropped a 63-48 decision to Samford to open the season 6-3.

Next Up For UCF: The Knights will remain in Orlando to start the New Year hosting a pair of games in the A-Sun beginning with Georgia State on Saturday, Jan. 3. UCF will then wrap up its longest homestand of the season on Monday, Jan. 5 as the Bears of Mercer travel to Orlando. Tip off for both games is slated for 7:30 p.m.

On The Air: The game will be broadcast live on the UCF ISP Sports Network on 740-AM with Marc Daniels calling all the action. Tip off is slated for 7:30 p.m, with Daniels taking to the airwaves at 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage.
Yahoo also provides Golden Knights fans the opportunity to listen online by clicking here

Tickets can be purchased day of the game, $6 for adults, $4 for both seniors (55 and over) and children from ages 6-17. UCF students can enter free by showing a valid UCF student ID.

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