UCF looks to focus the attention back on the fields as their ranked baseball team travels to Gainesville to take on the #1 team in the nation while the basketball team tries to achieve just the seventh 20-win season in school history.
A day after the school released its self-imposed penalties for its football and basketball programs, the UCF Knights take to the field and court in two big matchups tonight. The 19th ranked baseball team travels up the Florida Turnpike to take on the top-ranked Florida Gators who finished as the nation's runners up in Omaha last season. In the 2011 season, the Gators and Knights played a home and home series and the Knights were victors in both contests. UCF is off to a 3-0 start this season as it tries to build off the momentum of opening the season ranked (21st) and the expansion to the baseball stadium to draw in larger crowds as Orlando's only baseball team given the inexplicable absence of minor league baseball in the area.
Meanwhile, the basketball team is in Houston to take on the Rice Owls at 9p ET this evening. UCF is currently fourth in the Conference USA standings at 8-4, just a half a game behind Tulsa and a full game behind Southern Miss and Memphis who are tied at 9-3. UCF only plays Memphis again this season in Memphis while their other three games are tonight's tilt on the road and two home games against UTEP and UAB. UCF needs to stay in one of the top four spots in the conference to get a first round bye in the conference tournament as the team is essentially playing a seven man rotation. Freshman Kasey Wilson has taken most of P.J. Gaynor's minutes as Wilson and Tristan Spurlock are supplying nearly all of the minutes off the bench these days.
Both UCF and Rice are 4-2 in their last six conference games but UCF is coming off a convincing win against East Carolina while Rice dropped its second game of the season to Tulsa in a blowout loss. Arsalan Kazemi is averaging a double-double for the Owls and leads the conference with 10.6 rebounds a contest while his 59 percent shooting percentage is good for third best in the conference. Connor Frizzelle and Tamir Jackson supply the outside shooting and at times have been problematic matchups in past games between these two schools.
A win tonight would provide UCF with just its seventh 20-win season in school history and its second in a row under head coach Donnie Jones. UCF has yet to lose to Rice in Conference USA play in the regular season in four matchups but Rice did knock out UCF in the 2007 tournament with the help of Morris Almond. Knights fans should focus on what Isaiah Sykes does as the team is 14-2 when Skyes scores in double figures. Speaking of Sykes, fans can vote for his incredible blocked shot against Marshall as GEICO's college play of the year on Facebook.