Men's Hoops Head to New Orleans for Clash with Tulane

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ORLANDO – The UCF men's basketball team is on the road for its penultimate game of the regular season as the Knights (17-9, 9-7 AAC) head to The Big Easy for a Thursday night clash at Tulane (12-13, 9-7 AAC).
The two sides are set to tip off in Fogelman Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+, with Marc Daniels also on the call on FM 96.9 The Game.
With Houston, SMU and Memphis having all clinched first-round byes for the 2022 Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship, three teams, including the Knights and the Green Wave, are vying for the two remaining first-round byes. Temple sits at 9-6, while UCF and Tulane are currently 9-7 in conference action. The Black and Gold can clinch the first-round bye with a win at Tulane on Thursday.
The Knights were playing some of their best ball in the month of February, finishing the month 5-2, with their only losses coming at No. 14 Houston and at Memphis. When UCF tips off against Tulane, it will have been eight days since the Knights' last contest, when they handedly defeated Cincinnati in Orlando on Senior Knight, 75-61.

UCF junior guard Darin Green Jr. has led the charge for the Knights to this point in the season, checking in at first on the team with 13.4 points per game, as well as a team-high 78 threes on a 39.6 percent mark from deep. Freshman Darius Johnson has also been coming on as of late. The freshman has started the last seven games, averaging 8.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game over that stretch,
Tulane is coming off back-to-back losses at Houston and Temple. The Green Wave lost to the Cougars in New Orleans, 81-67 before falling 75-70 to the Owls in Philadelphia.
Tulane is led by Jalen Cook, who is averaging 18 points, 3.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting at a 42.9 percent clip from the field and a 39.1 percent rate from beyond the arc.
The Knights hold the all-time series lead over Tulane at 18-4, including a 10-2 record in New Orleans. UCF held on to beat the Green Wave 68-66 in Orlando in their first meeting back on Jan. 22. Last season, the Knights secured the series sweep.
UCF has not lost to Tulane in New Orleans since Feb. 14, 2007 (86-80).
Game Information
Date: Thursday, March 3
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game

  • Johnny Dawkins picked up career win No. 100 in the Knights' win over N.C. A&T on Dec. 11, becoming just the third coach in UCF history to reach the milestone.
  • Dawkins is 111-69 since starting with the Knights in 2016, a win percentage of .617, the second best of any UCF coach (Torchy Clark, .754 from 1969-83).
  • He has the third most wins over any UCF coach, trailing only Clark's 274 and Kirk Speraw's 247 from 1993-2010.
  • Dawkins is the fastest coach to reach 100 wins in program history in the Division I era, needing only 162 games to do so.
  • Dawkins had his squad  off to a 4-0 start to begin the 2021-22 season, tying his 2017-18 mark for his best start to a season at UCF.
  • Dawkins has led UCF to its first NIT Final Four (2017), first at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament (2019) and first NCAA Tournament win (2019).
  • Prior to Dawkins' arrival at UCF, the program had won three games against ranked opponents from 1984-2016. Since Dawkins has taken over, the Knights have won five games against ranked opponents.
  • UCF had never won two games against ranked teams in a single season, and the Knights did it in a span of five days, taking down No. 6 Houston and No. 19 Cincinnati late in the 2018-19 season.
  • UCF is now 8-52 all-time against ranked opponents, but 5-18 against ranked teams under Dawkins.

POSTSEASON OUTLOOK                                                  

  • With the regular season coming to a close, the Knights are making one long road trip to close out the season, starting in Tulane on Thursday before closing out the season at Tulsa on Sunday.
  • The Knights are currently 9-7 in The American, tied with Tulane and half a game back from Temple (9-6).
  • A UCF win at Tulane on Thursday would clinch a first-round bye for the Knights at the American Athletic Conference tournament as the Knights would hold the tie-breaker over the Green Wave.
  • UCF's nine conference wins this season are already its most since the 2018-19 season when the Knights went to the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, the Knights won their fist-round matchup against VCU, 73-58, before falling to Duke by one point (77-76) in the second round.
  • UCF finished the 2020-21 regular season 11-12 overall and 8-10 in AAC action. They beat ECU in the first round of the conference tournament, 72-62, before falling to Memphis in the quarterfinals, 70-62.
  • UCF has never won an AAC title in the regular season or postseason (joined in 2013-14).

THE QUEST FOR 1,000                                           

  • Fifth-year senior point guard Darius Perry scored his 1,000th career point in UCF's win over Wichita State on Feb. 8.
  • UCF fifth-year senior Brandon Mahan is the next Knight in line to reach 1,000 if he is able to do so this season (926 career points).
  • Junior Darin Green Jr. (912) and fifth-year senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong (920) are also closing in on the career milestone.

SO LONG, SENIORS                                                

  • The Knights honored their six senior players (as well as their two graduate managers and four student managers) ahead of the game agains the Bearcats on Feb. 23.
  • The game marked the final regualr season home appearance for Darius Perry, Brandon Mahan, Dre Fuller Jr., Cheikh Mbacke Diong, Levy Renaud and Ryan Anders.
  • UCF's seniors have accounted for 45 percent of all scoring and the same percentage of minutes played for the Knights this season.
  • Senior Darius Perry currently leads all Knights with 113 assists.
  • Senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong leads the team with 152 rebounds and 38 blocks.
  • Entering Thursday, three of the Knights' top five scorers are seniors (Perry, Mahan and Diong).

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