UCF basketball preview: UCF Squares Off Against Houston with Second Place at Stake
CUSA Fans new UCF Correspondent Ryan Westin brings us a preview of the basketball game between the UCF Golden Knights and the Houston Cougars.
UCF heads home for the final two games of the regular season and will host the Houston Cougars on Wednesday night at UCF Arena. The Cougars and Golden Knights currently share second place in the Conference USA standings, as they each possess 9-5 league marks.
UCF is 20-8 on year after losing 66-64 in overtime at Tulsa on Saturday night. Houston is coming off of a loss as well, as they were dropped a 77-64 decision at Memphis the last time out. This match-up between the Knights and Cougars will definitely put the victor in the drivers seat to take the number two seed in the conference tournament, as both squads will have only one game remaining after the contest.
The Golden Knights will play their next two games at The UCF Arena. Unless UCF were to host an NIT game (or more), it will be their final games in their current home as they'll be moving into their brand new arena for the 2007-2008 season.
Earlier this season, UCF fell at Houston after holding a 22-point advantage in the second half. Lavell Payne led the Knights in scoring with 26 points, but it was not enough to prevent a 73-70 overtime loss. UCF led 35-15 at the break but the Cougars scored 49 points and shot 48.3 percent from the field—including six three-pointers—in the second half. Robert McKiver led the Cougars with 36 points, which included six shots from behind the arc.
What are you waiting for? Resign Kirk!
UCF head coach Kirk Speraw's contract expires at the end of this season and things are looking gloomy for his return. Recently, the Orlando Sentinel asked athletic director Keith Tribble about Speraw’s future. Speraw and Tribble avoided the question by saying they are going to sit down at the end of the season and discuss the direction of the program. Kirk Speraw does not deserve this lack of commitment, but instead he deserves a long-term contract like UCF head coach George O'Leary received after one successful season. Speraw has led the Knights to four NCAA tournaments and has won twenty games in four of the last five seasons.
Key's to the Game
Get the big lead and keep the big lead
In several of their games this season, UCF established a big lead in the contest before allowing its opponent to chip away at the lead and comeback to win the game. Kirk Speraw has spoken about the problem, but it did not convert into success on the court recently in a road loss to Tulane. The Knights led by ten just before the half, but they allowed the Green Wave back into the game and lost 86-80.
Contain McKiver below 20
Houston guard Rob McKiver is currently leading the nation in three-point attempts with 284 while connecting on 3.5 threes game. McKiver, who is third in the conference with 18.4 ppg, has had thirteen games with over 20 points this year. The Cougars are 10-3 when McKiver gets over 20 points in a contest and 5-10 when he scores below 20.
UCF 78 - Houston 76 - Houston misses a shot at the buzzer in a close come from behind win for the Knights.
On “Senior Night” UCF will host East Carolina in what could be the Knights’ final game in the UCF Arena (if they do not host a NIT game). UCF will then travel to Memphis for the Conference USA Tournament, which begins next Wednesday. The championship game will be on Saturday, March 10th and it will be televised nationally on CBS.