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Men's Basketball Falls to No. 18 Baylor, 77-69

Darius Johnson drills career-high five 3-point field goals in notching third career double-double

by Ryan Ladika

ORLANDO – Led by the hot hand of junior Darius Johnson, the UCF men’s basketball team once again put on display its potential amid the Big 12 gauntlet.

The guard erupted for 23 points, marking the fourth game of his career with at least 20 in notching his third career double-double, though the Knights’ stingy defensive scheme was bested by the visiting No. 18 Baylor Bears’ high-powered offense in UCF’s 77-69 loss at Addition Financial Arena Wednesday evening.

“Give Baylor a lot of credit, they came in and played a really good basketball game,” head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “They shoot the ball well and our young men fought hard. They gave us a winning effort and we had a chance at the end, but they closed the game out better than we did.”

In meeting the Knights’ (12-8, 3-5 Big 12) fourth ranked Big 12 foe this season and the first in a current span of four straight according to the latest AP Poll released Monday, UCF commanded an early advantage throughout the evening but was unable to close out the Bears’ (15-5, 4-3 Big 12) conference-leading offensive attack down the stretch.

Johnson, whose 10 assists tied his career high and represented the third game of his career with 10 helpers, brought to life a packed Addition Financial Arena crowd with the Knights’ first seven points of the game, including his first 3-point field goal, to give UCF a quick 7-5 lead.

With his 10 assists, Johnson also claimed sole possession of 10th place on the Knights’ all-time list with 270, passing Daiquan Walker’s career total of 268 from the 2012-13 season through 2015-16.

Junior Jaylin Sellers and senior Marchelus Avery drilled back-to-back triples after one by Baylor, and Johnson connected on his second and third tries from beyond the arc to build UCF’s lead to 21-15 with just under 12 minutes to play in the opening half.

“He was terrific. He did a really good job not just scoring but leading us as well,” Dawkins said of Johnson. “With 10 assists, he was also making connecting plays and making his teammates better. That’s what a good point guard does.”

On the heels of four straight Ibrahima Diallo points as the game clock eclipsed six minutes to play, Sellers drilled two more triples, followed by a fourth from Johnson to give the Knights a 38-32 halftime advantage.

“It’s a slim margin with every game, every opponent,” Dawkins said of UCF’s conference opposition. “We have to find a way to turn it around now, regroup, and we have to respond. That’s what I’ve told our guys all season long, and it doesn’t change.”

Johnson ignited the second half with his career-high fifth 3-point field goal of the night, and he and Avery combined for 15 of UCF’s first 18 points of the final 20 minutes.

Clinging to a 56-53 lead with just over eight and a half minute to play, the Knights struggled to continue their offensive traction against a stout Bears defensive scheme down the stretch, though, dropping consecutive conference games for the first time this season in their eight-point defeat.

“Very important,” Dawkins said of UCF’s next matchup against No. 23/24 Oklahoma. “For us to stay in this race and keep competing, we have to protect our home court. We lost this game, and now we have to figure out how to beat another ranked opponent. None of them are going to be easy, we just have to find a way to be successful.”

Avery and Sellers joined Johnson in scoring in the double figures, notching 16 and 14 points, respectively. With his 14 points, Sellers recorded his 18th contest in his first 20 as a Knight with at least 10 points.


The Knights will welcome the No. 23/24 Oklahoma Sooners to Addition Financial Arena Saturday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m., and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.


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