Men's Hoops Set to Open Conference Play

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ORLANDO – The UCF men's basketball team is set to begin conference play as it hosts Wichita State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside Addition Financial Arena.

The Knights wrapped up non-conference play with a record of 9-3, finishing the slate with a 73-58 win over Stetson. It was the 20th straight win over the Hatters as the Black and Gold improved to 31-15 against their neighbors to the north. Taylor Hendricks and Darius Johnson earned double-doubles in the contest, with Hendricks netting 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while Johnson also scored 16 points while tallying 10 assists. Hendricks' double-double was his third of the season. The 10 helpers from Johnson was a career-high for him and the most by a Knight since the 2019-20 season where Dazon Ingram earned 10 assists against East Carolina on Feb. 6, 2020.

The Knights are now 21-6 against foes from the state of Florida under head coach Johnny Dawkins' tenure. Additionally, the win over Stetson was the 100th home game of Dawkins' tenure as a Knight, improving his record to 77-23 in Addition Financial Arena.

The Black and Gold have finished five of six "normal" non-conference schedules with nine or more wins under Coach Dawkins. UCF has finished 9-3 four of those times with the other a 10-2 finish in 2018-19 that resulted in an NCAA Tournament appearance at season's end. The lone "normal" slate in which UCF didn't get to nine wins was an 8-2 mark last season. The Knights finished 2-1 in non-conference play in a shorter 2020-21 regular season schedule.

UCF is just a couple buckets away from being perfect on the season, with the Knights' three losses coming by a combined total of seven points. All three defeats were by a possession each, falling by three in double overtime to UNC Asheville on opening night, getting edged by two to a Miami team that is now ranked in the top 20 of the AP Poll, and a buzzer-beater defeat of two points to Missouri in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Two new members of UCF's roster have seen American Athletic Conference play before. Michael Durr spent three years at South Florida before playing for a season at Indiana while Brandon Suggs was at ECU for three seasons before transferring in. Durr averaged 7.0 points and 6.8 rebounds in his time in American play while shooting 47.7% over 46 games played. He is averaging slightly less points and boards a game as a Knight but is shooting nearly 10% better from the field this season, shooting at a 57.1% clip after starting in 10 games and playing in 11. Suggs has seen similar results, improving on a 41% mark from the field as a Pirate but now makes 52.5% of his shots.

Wichita State enters the contest with a 7-5 record so far this season. They've won three of their last four games after a stretch where they lost three of four. Their most recent victory comes overt Texas Southern, a 65-56 result at home for the Shockers. Wichita State has also faced Oklahoma State and Missouri this season, falling to the Tigers 88-84 in overtime and losing by 10 to the Cowboys.

Craig Porter Jr. and Jaykwon Walton lead the Shockers in scoring, averaging 12.8 and 12.5 points a game respectively. Porter has impressed all over the floor, adding 6.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

The Knights have only topped Wichita State once their nine meetings, but it was the last time out, a 71-66 win in Orlando on Feb. 8, 2022. All nine of the meetings have been in American play.

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