Men's Hoops Set to Host No. 3 Kansas in Front of Sold Out Addition Financial Arena

by Ken Landis
UCF Game Notes Kansas Game Notes Big 12 Conference Notes Block Parties Know Before You Go

ORLANDO – After a tough start to its Big 12 tenure with a road loss at Kansas State, the UCF men’s basketball team looks to rebound in front of the friendly confines of a sold-out Addition Financial Arena at 7 p.m. on Wednesday as it welcomes No. 3 Kansas to town.

“Of course [the loss] is very disappointing. We didn’t have the outcome that we wanted. It was a tough loss for us; we have to learn from it and get better. We have 18 games in the Big 12…we’ve played one. Did we put our best foot forward? No. But, we know we can. One thing I love about our group is that we believe. And we still believe. For us, we have to take a “next play” mentality and go into this game with the right mindset.”

Johnny DawkinsUCF Men's Basketball Head Coach

UCF didn’t get out to the best of starts, in fact, the Knights posted their fewest points in a half this season, scoring 19 on 21.6% shooting. The Black and Gold’s offense snapped back into gear in the second half, finishing the game shooting 50% from the floor in the final 20 minutes of play.

UCF’s defense caused problems for Kansas State throughout the night, blocking six shots and forcing a dozen turnovers. The Knights’ defense has been tough to solve for opposing offenses, sitting in the top 25 in multiple defensive categories. The Black and Gold average 5.6 blocks per game, a mark that ranks 13th in the country. UCF also ranks 13th in turnovers forced per game, causing opponents to cough up the rock an average of 16.69 times per game. Steals have played a big part of this year’s defense, snatching 9.5 per game. Approximately 23% of UCF’s possessions on offense have begun with a turnover forced by its defense.

Omar Payne tied a season high with three blocks against Kansas State, the second time he has reached that number in the last four games. He averages 1.46 blocks per game, a mark that is sixth in the Big 12. Ibrahima Diallo continues to lead the Big 12 in blocks per game, averaging 2.15 rejections per outing.

The Knights will welcome one of the nation’s premiere offenses when Kansas comes to Orlando. The Jayhawks shoot 50.7% from the floor, a mark that is seventh in the nation. In addition, they boast the second most assists per game with a 21.3 clip, behind only BYU.


Wednesday night’s contest will be the first time the Knights and Jayhawks meet on the hardwood, but it won’t be the first time that UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins has crossed paths with Kansas or Bill Self. Coach Dawkins first faced Kansas in his senior year at Duke, facing the Jayhawks twice. The first instance was just five games into the 1985-86 season where Dawkins and company secured the win to start 5-0 in a season that saw them march to the national title game and finish with a 37-3 record. The Blue Devils met Kansas again in the national semifinal where Dawkins took over, scoring 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting, propelling his team to the championship game.

It wasn’t until the 2014 NCAA Tournament that Dawkins met the Jayhawks again, where he faced them for the first time as a head coach. Dawkins had led his Stanford squad to the second round, where they pulled off the 60-57 victory over No. 10 Kansas under the direction of Self to advance to the Sweet 16.

Dawkins faced Self two times prior while on the benches, both as an assistant coach at his alma matter under the legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski. The first Dawkins vs. Self matchup was in the 1999 NCAA Tournament where Duke downed a Self’s Tulsa team 97-56 in the second round. The two met two seasons later on Nov. 28, 2000 with Self at the helm of Illinois. The Fighting Illini nearly upset No. 1 Duke in a top 10 showdown, but Dawkins and Coach K were able to stave off the surge and beat Illinois 78-77.

Dawkins and Self were separated by just one class while playing college basketball, but the two never got the chance to face each other as players.

This season’s Dawkins led squad will look to right the ship when it comes to facing ranked opponents, dropping their last seven opportunities. Of those seven chances, four of those contests were against a team in the top 10 and six against a team in the top 15. Houston was that team in those six occurrences. The Knights’ last ranked win was on the road at No. 15 Florida State, an 86-74 win on Dec. 19, 2020. Of UCF’s eight wins against ranked teams in the program’s history, five have been under Dawkins. Prior to the Black and Gold’s seven-game slide against foes in the top 25, the Knights had won three of four games against ranked opponents, the only loss in that span was the 2019 NCAA Tournament loss to No. 1 Duke.

Wednesday’s game will be just the second sellout in Addition Financial Arena’s history. The other occurrence came back in 2017 as part of UCF’s NIT semifinal run. The Knights hosted Illinois on Mar. 22, 2017, beating the Fighting Illini 68-58 in front of 10,011 fans. On top of being the arena’s first sellout, it was the largest home crowd in UCF basketball history. Fans were treated to a Tacko Fall double-double, 17 points from B.J. Taylor and four Matt Williams three-pointers, some from remarkable distances. The night ended in a court storming as UCF punched its ticket to the NIT Semifinals. Coach Dawkins gave a speech from the student section following the game with fans still on the court, with an apple clutched in his left hand, as the Knights were headed to The Big Apple for the NIT semis.

The Knights will host the first of six free block parties this season with the first slated for Wednesday from 5 – 7 p.m. The family-friendly events will take place on East Plaza Drive and will feature food and drinks through local establishments, inflatables and games for kids, music, tabling with giveaways and much more. Admission to the block parties is free and parking will be available in local parking garages. Season parking passes will also continue to work like any normal gameday.


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