Big Game Looming for UCF Basketball

With a game versus in-state rival Florida looming, the Knights basketball team appears to be ready. The two teams will square off this upcoming Saturday, December 20th in Jacksonville.

Florida dismantled the Knights in their last meeting, 80-47 in 2005. This is not something that Knight's star guard/forward, Jermaine Taylor easily forgets.

"I've got a chip on my shoulder after the way they smacked us around my freshman year," Taylor said.

This Florida team may not be quite as talented as the group that won back-to-back national titles, but Knights Coach Kirk Speraw does not hesitate to give the Florida squad plenty of kudos.

"A tremendous challenge, certainly a top 25 team," Speraw said. "Very talented, very skilled, they play very hard they got a lot of weapons. It's always a tough match-up."

Speraw goes on to talk about some of the weapons Florida has and explains how tough of a match-up they will provide for the young Knights squad.

"I think that Nicky [Nick] Calathes is one of the premier guards in the country. [Nick and] Taylor Parks, we'd love to have those guys here," Speraw said as he gave praise to the UF program.

This Florida team has a lot in common with the Knights though, they are both very young squads and both have the most success when they are hitting their threes. Florida does not have a great post presence so will try to hit the jumper to beat the Knights. The clear star that needs to be stopped for the Knights to have success is Nick Calathes; he is the man that makes the Gators run. He is averaging 15 a game and runs a great point. A.J. Rompza will likely draw the assignment and he is a great on ball defender and is a ball of energy on defense, but he is giving up a good eight inches, so it is likely that Taylor Young will be guarding Nick as well. We might also see a little more zone this time out.

When asked how big of a win this would be for the program, Kirk skirts the question, as he doesn't want to let hypothetical questions interfere with his preparation for a talented Florida squad.

"We can't worry about what may or may not happen, we just got to go in there and compete as hard as we can," Speraw said.

UCF will undoubtedly the underdog heading into this big contest, but make no mistake about it the Knights want to prove they Belong. Jermaine Taylor echoes this sentiment perfectly.

"A lot of teams overlook us because we're UCF or whatever," Taylor said. We have to let them know we can play with the top teams."

The Knights will certainly have an opportunity to prove their worth this Saturday in front of what is expected to be a crowd that will likely be pro-orange and blue.


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