Knights Fall at UTEP, 73-68

UCF senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) matched a career high with 38 points, but UTEP hit 21 free throws in the second half to hold on for a 73-68 Conference USA victory over the Knights at the Don Haskins Center Wednesday. The contest, which took two hours and 30 minutes, featured 53 combined fouls.

The Miners, who improved to 14-9 overall and 5-4 in league play, led by nine with 3:15 to go in the game. Taylor then hit two free throws and drained a jumper, and junior forward Tony Davis (Sarasota, Fla.) made a foul shot to cut the edge to 69-65 with 1:40 on the clock.

After UTEP's Randy Culpepper missed a triple, the Knights had the chance to make it a three-point game, but Taylor could not connect on a contested jumper. The hosts made five foul shots in the final minute of the game. Culpepper made 14-of-16 free-throw attempts during the contest and finished with 25 points.

Taylor connected on 13-of-22 shots from the field and went 8-of-9 at the free-throw line. UCF was playing without starting freshman point guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) for the second-consecutive game.

"Jermaine was sensational," UCF head coach Kirk Speraw said. "Our other guys need to realize that he cannot do it by himself. Our guys played hard and I am proud of our effort. But we are struggling on defense right now."

The Knights were facing the Miners in El Paso for only the second time since both programs joined C-USA in 2005.

UCF led 33-31 at the break after Taylor scored 19 points in the opening half. The Miners grabbed the lead for good at the 10:49 mark of the second half when Claude Britten scored inside to give the hosts a 51-50 edge.

The Knights shot 44.0 percent overall in the opening stanza, but made just 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) of their field-goal attempts after intermission. The squad shot 39.6 percent overall.

Taylor was the lone UCF player to conclude the game with double-figures in scoring. Davis and senior center Kenrick Zondervan (Hoofddorp, Holland) each scored nine points and Davis grabbed a game-high 12 boards.

The Knights were whistled for 29 fouls in the game.

The Miners made 31-of-41 (75.6 percent) of their attempts at the free-throw line. The hosts shot 36.7 percent from the field. Culpepper was one of two Miners who finished with over 20 points as Stefon Jackson totaled 22 points. He also went 8-of-9 at the free-throw line.

The Knights are slated to return to action Saturday, hosting Tulsa at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. With Valentine's Day set for Saturday, fans can purchase one ticket to the game, and receive a free ticket for their date. To purchase the UCF Valentine's Day promotion, call Ticketmaster at (407) 839-3900 or visit

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