Men's Hoops Welcomes Familiar Foe Cincinnati for Saturday Contest

by Ken Landis
UCF Game Notes Cincinnati Game Notes Big 12 Conference Notes

ORLANDO – The UCF men’s basketball team is set to play its first game at home in exactly two weeks, returning to the friendly confines of Addition Financial Arena to host Cincinnati for a 4 p.m. tip on Saturday.

The last time the Knights were at home was in front of a sold-out crowd, just the third instance in program history a game has been dubbed a sell-out. UCF led wire-to-wire in its defeat of No. 23/24 Oklahoma, winning by double digits with a 74-63 final. Jaylin Sellers led the way in scoring with 20 points and was joined in double-digits by Antwann Jones who had 15 and Darius Johnson who dropped 14. The victory was the second over a ranked opponent this season, as UCF now boasts wins over No. 3 Kansas and the No. 23 Sooners.

The win over Oklahoma helped repeat a feat that had only been done once before at UCF, as the Knights now have two instances of beating two ranked opponents in a single season. The last time coming during the 2018-19 season, when UCF beat No. 6 Houston on the road and returned to host No. 19 Cincinnati. The two victories helped in solidifying UCF’s first at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament that season, a year in which the Knights earned their first victory in the dance, a 73-58 decision over VCU.

The victory over Oklahoma was Coach Dawkins’ 300th as a head coach. It was also the seventh victory over a top-25 foe, as he is now responsible for seven of the nine ranked wins in UCF’s history.

Since the win over the Sooners, the Knights came close to two more ranked wins, but ultimately fell to No. 23/23 Texas Tech and No. 19/17 BYU on the road. After trailing by 10 at one point in the first and pulling the game to within six points at halftime against the Red Raiders, UCF shrunk the deficit to a single possession on seven different occasions but were never able to capture the lead. The Knights fell down by 19 points at BYU but battled back in the second half, using a 12-0 run to set up a wild finish. UCF scored 62 points in the second half against the Cougars and made a barrage of three-pointers inside the final moments of the contest, but ultimately were edged 90-88. Of those 62 points scored by the Black and Gold in the second, 51 of them were scored in the final 15 minutes.

The Knights will reignite their rivalry against Cincinnati on Saturday, a team they have already seen once this season and will host for the first time as members of its new league. UCF has created some fond memories against the Bearcats in the past, one of which being the aforementioned 2019 victory (pictured below) that led to a March Madness appearance. The Knights swept the season series in 2020, including a double overtime 89-87 victory in Cincinnati.

The Bearcats have won the three previous meetings between the two sides, but prior to that, the Knights had won three in a four-game span. As of this morning’s Bracketology by Joe Lunardi, Cincinnati is listed as one of the first four teams out of the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati enters the contest with a NET ranking of 37, which is 29 spots better than UCF’s 66. However, the two squads have the same number of Quad 1 victories at two.

Cincinnati enters the weekend as one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, ranking 10th rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game and rebounding margin. UCF also ranks in the top 50 in offensive boards per contest, sitting at No. 35.

Dan Skillings Jr. leads the Bearcats in scoring in Big 12 conference play, averaging 13.4 points per contest. Close behind him is John Newman III at 10.1 points per game and Simas Lukosius who averages an even 10.0. Three members of Cincinnati’s squad pull in over five rebounds per league game, with Aziz Bandaogo in front with a clip of 7.2 per contest. Newman III averages 6.0 rebounds per game while Skillings Jr. pulls in roughly 5.6 per outing.

Follow UCF men’s basketball on X (@UCF_MBB), Instagram (@UCF.MBB) and Facebook (/UCFMensBasketball).

Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite teams by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android devices. The app provides personalized information for men’s and women’s teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and breaking news. Click here to download the app now.