Men's Hoops Overtakes No. 23 Oklahoma for Coach Dawkins' 300th Career Win

ORLANDO – After another hot start, the UCF men’s basketball team secured head coach Johnny Dawkins’ 300th career win with a 74-63 victory over No. 23 Oklahoma. The win means that the Knights have now defeated two ranked opponents on the year, just the second time in program history they have topped a pair of ranked foes in a single season.

“I thought our guys really stepped up coming off two losses in a row and knowing the importance of defending our home court. I thought our guys really responded. We talked about that all year long, and that every game is going to be like it was tonight. It’s going to be a great opponent, great players, talented coaches. I thought our guys did a really good job of staying focused on the task at hand, and that’s getting us back on a winning path.”

Johnny DawkinsUCF Men's Basketball Head Coach

Darius Johnson quickly lifted the lid off the basket after the Knights claimed the first possession following tip-off. The Knights moved the ball quickly in the opening seconds as fifth year guard Antwann Jones found Johnson behind the defense with a bounce pass, allowing his backcourt mate to drive for a layup.

The Knights’ defense had an immediate impact as the Sooners committed three turnovers in the first two minutes of the contest. Johnson and Jones both earned steals on those early plays to set the tone for the rest of the game. 

UCF’s offense found its footing quickly with three three-pointers in fewer than five minutes for Jones alone. The Knights built a large margin early, leading 15-4 with 15:04 left in the first half.

Fifth year guard Shemarri Allen returned to the starting lineup after missing a pair of games. His return was an instant boost to the squad, collecting three rebounds, including one offensive, tallied an assist, a steal and netted three points in the first half.

UCF got off to a great start, converting off forced turnovers and committing very few of their own, the Sooners kept the game close, down 17-20, after a strong layup from Jalon Moore. With 5:49 left in the first half, Oklahoma cut the lead to two with a turnaround jumper from Soares Rivaldo, but they would come no closer.

Points in the paint from UCF's leading scorer, Jaylin Sellers, and Allen in the last 75 seconds of the first half extended the Knights’ lead to seven going into halftime 34-27.

Following the last game against Baylor, where UCF led 38-32 at half but couldn’t extend the lead, the Knights learned their lesson and continued the onslaught on Oklahoma. UCF’s defensive intensity persisted, the Sooners’ coach Porter Moser remarking “they were steps ahead of us defensively… deflections put doubts in the passer’s mind.”

The Knights brought a lead into the halftime locker room for the fourth straight game. Trying to avoid conceding their advantage after 20 minutes for the third straight contest, the Knights quickly built upon Saturday afternoon’s halftime lead of seven. Six minutes into the second half, the Black and Gold had tacked five more points onto their edge.

The Knights kept the ball moving and stayed aggressive, drawing fouls and converting from the free throw line to extend the lead to double digits. UCF stayed active under Oklahoma’s basket, tipping in missed layups, accumulating eight offensive rebounds for the game. After the game, Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser stated his team was a “step behind on both ends the whole night.”

UCF continued to disrupt the Oklahoma offense in the form of steals, setting a new high against a Big 12 opponent with 12, and nine blocks, also a league-play best, dissuading the Sooner attack around every corner.

With 11:22 left in the game UCF grabbed a defensive rebound and initiated a fast break that resulted in a dunk from Allen to extend the lead to fourteen at 52-38. Oklahoma’s Darthard Le’Tre hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to eleven with eleven minutes left. The Knights persevered, putting together another run with second chance points from Omar Payne, a turnaround jumper from Jones, and playmaking from Johnson that resulted in an easy layup for UCF’s seven footer, Ibrahima Diallo.

The Knights hit the dagger with under four minutes to play. Leading 64-50, an interception from Johnson and a beautifully placed bounce pass to Jones who slammed it home all but sealed the deal.

After shooting one-for-seven from the charity stripe last time out against No. 18 Baylor, the Knights sunk a season-high 28 free throws on 32 attempts, the most since last year’s double-overtime win against Memphis on Jan. 11.

Payne played a big role in UCF’s nine blocks on the night, swatting aside four shots which set a season-high for him. Diallo and Allen added a pair of denials each.

The victory was the 300th of Dawkins’ career, making him one of six active head coaches in the Big 12 to reach the milestone. Now in his eighth season with the Knights, Dawkins earned his seventh ranked victory at the helm of the Black and Gold with Saturday’s win. He now accounts for seven of UCF’s nine defeats of ranked foes in program history.

Dawkins and the Knights repeated a feat that he had accomplished for the first time just a few seasons ago. The 2018-19 Knights beat No. 6 Houston on the road before topping No. 19 Cincinnati at home, defeating a pair of ranked opponents in a single season for the first time in program history. This go-around, UCF has beaten No. 3 Kansas and No. 23 Oklahoma, both at home. The Black and Gold will have plenty of opportunities to set the program record for most wins over ranked foes in a season with six of their remaining nine opponents sitting in the top 25.

The game was the third sell-out in Addition Financial Arena history, drawing 9,387 fans, the fifth-highest attended UCF men’s hoops contest. This season has seen all five Big 12 home games rank among the top 16 attended contests in the venue’s history.


With no midweek contest on the schedule, the Knights will return to action on Saturday for its second and final two game road swing of the regular season. UCF begins its trip away from Orlando in Lubbock, Texas to visit No. 15/15 Texas Tech before traveling on to No. 22/21 BYU for a Tuesday contest.

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