Dominant Performance Leads UCF Past Oklahoma State in Big 12 Championship Opener, 77-62

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fueled by a 13-0 run to open the second half, the 12th-seeded UCF men’s basketball team earned a dominant 77-62 win over 13th-seeded Oklahoma State in the first game of the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship Tuesday afternoon inside the T-Mobile center. At one point in the ballgame, the Black and Gold had led by as many as 27.

The Knights got incredible production from their big men on the afternoon, netting 46 points from the forward positions. That group also accounted for eight of UCF’s nine blocks.

“It's our first year in the Big 12 Conference and first tournament, and I'm just really proud of how our guys represented our program. I thought they came out very excited in the first half, there was a lot of energy. I thought the second half was one of the best defensive efforts to start a half that we've had since I've been coaching at UCF. It was a great defensive effort to kind of build a lead in the second half. Just really proud of the guys' effort."

Johnny DawkinsUCF Men's Basketball Head Coach

Each team started the contest with a turnover, followed by an Oklahoma State jumpshot to open the scoring. Ibrahima Diallo had the first bucket of the Knights’ tenure at the Big 12 Conference Championship, followed by one-of-two free throws UCF’s next trip down. After a fastbreak dunk from the Cowboys, C.J. Walker hit a three-pointer and was fouled. He only had six triples during the regular season, with four of them coming over the last four games. Walker missed the free throw on the four-point play opportunity.

Both teams shot just 20% through the first 5:12 of the game, going (2-for-10).

After a fast break dunk by Oklahoma State to tie the game at 6-6, UCF built a quick 9-3 run. Walker worked his way back to the free throw line, this time cashing in on both his attempts. Diallo tossed in a bucket to extend the lead to four, which was promptly cut back to one by Oklahoma State’s first triple of the game. Diallo again made his presence felt, working his way into the paint for two more points. Darus Johnson splashed onto the scoresheet form long range, pushing the lead to 15-9, forcing a Cowboy timeout.

Oklahoma State had a little run of its own, going on a 9-1 streak to leap in front at 24-21. UCF responded with a 7-0 run, thanks to buckets from Jaylin Sellers, a three-pointer from Thierno Sylla and another basket from Diallo made it a 28-24 Knights edge. The two sides scored eight points each the remainder of the way to halftime with UCF up 35-31.

The Knights shot 50% from beyond the three-point arc in the first half, sinking 5-of-10 while Oklahoma State went 3-for-14 from deep. UCF held the slight edge in field goal percentage in the opening frame, a 34% mark to the Cowboy’s 32%.

The Knights charged right through Oklahoma State to start the second half, going on a 13-0 run, a 16-0 run when including Marchelus Avery’s three-pointer towards the end of the first half. Diallo got the Knights started with a made free throw before Walker buried his second triple of the game. Sellers added a fastbreak layup plus the foul, as well as two free throws later in the run. Walker and Diallo each contributed a basket each as UCF built a 17-point lead at 48-31.

Oklahoma State finally scored its first points of the half on a free throw 5:41 into the second. The Knights continued to pour it on from that point, as Sellers added a layup and Johnson cashed in from long range to make it a 21-point edge. The Cowboys added back-to-back buckets to cut it to 53-36 before the midway point of the half, but from there it was all UCF. The Knights poured on another heavy 12-2 run, ballooning the led to 27 at 65-38 with 7:24. The final nail in the coffin had been all but driven home at that point as UCF went on to go 1-0 in Big 12 Conference Play.

Diallo scored a career-high 17 points on the afternoon and added 11 rebounds, five of them on the offensive glass, resulting in his fourth double-double of the season. He now accounts for four of UCF’s seven double-doubles on the season. Close in tow on the scoresheet was C.J. Walker who had a dozen points, his sixth double-digit performance on the campaign. Johnson also landed in double-digits with 11 points while going three-for-five beyond the arc. Diallo, Walker, Sylla and Omar Payne each had a pair of blocks while Shemarri Allen and Diallo led the team with three steals each.

UCF improves to 82-16 under Coach Dawkins when holding opponents under 40% shooting from the floor.

The Knights have now won their first game at their conference tournament over the last four seasons.

The Knights will face No. 20/21 BYU for the third time this season for a Wednesday afternoon meeting. The ball goes up against fifth-seeded Cougars, who earned a bye through the first round, at 12:30 p.m. ET. The broadcast will air nationally on ESPN2.