UCF men’s basketball upsets No. 23 Oklahoma, giving coach Johnny Dawkins 300th career win

As milestones go, it was a pretty special one for Johnny Dawkins.

With UCF’s 74-63 upset win over No. 23 Oklahoma at Addition Financial Arena on Saturday, the Knights’ coach secured his 300th career coaching win. He joins a group of 80 active Division I coaches with 300 or more wins during their careers.

“Our guys really did lock in and execute the game plan and gave us a chance tonight,” said the 60-year-old Dawkins, who previously served as Stanford’s head coach.

It was the second time this season that UCF (13-8, 4-5 Big 12) has defeated a ranked opponent, having knocked off No. 3 Kansas 65-60 on Jan. 10. The last time the Knights beat two ranked teams in the same season was the 2018-19 campaign.

UCF stepped up its defensive effort in the beginning, recording back-to-back-to-back steals and a block on four straight Oklahoma possessions as the Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

Fifth-year guard Antwann Jones connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, giving UCF its largest lead of the first half at 15-4 with 15:04. But that advantage didn’t last as the Knights went through a brutal shooting stretch: 1 of 8 from the floor with a pair of turnovers as Oklahoma (16-6, 4-5) cut the lead to 20-17 with under 7 minutes.

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Both teams hovered around 40% shooting for the half, with the Knights managing to grab the halftime lead for the third straight game, 34-27.

UCF was without the services of forward Thierno Sylla, who was assessed a contact technical foul upon an official review at halftime and ejected for the second half. It was the second ejection of the season for Sylla, who was tossed after leaving the bench during a scuffle against Kansas on Jan. 10.

But instead of settling for outside shots as it had done for most of the first half, UCF attacked the basket, turning a 7-point halftime advantage into its largest lead at 17 points. The Knights finished with 26 points in the paint — 16 in the second half — and 17 fast-break points.

“I feel like lately, in the past, we get relaxed in the second half [of games], but this game, we tried to stay in attack mode, get to the free throw line, and do different things like that to keep us focused offensively,” said guard Shemarri Allen.

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The fifth-year senior was back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games after rolling his ankle in the Knights’ 72-59 win over West Virginia on Jan. 23.

Guard Jaylin Sellers led three Knights in double figures with 20 points, followed by Jones (15) and Darius Johnson (14).

Oklahoma was led by guards Le’Tre Darthard (14 points) and Rivaldo Soares (11).

UCF held the Sooners to a season-low 36% (17 of 47) shooting and forced 15 turnovers resulting in 16 transition points.

“I just thought they were a step ahead of us on both ends the whole night,” said Oklahoma coach Porter Moser. “I don’t think we guarded our yard — we call it guarding your yard, the three feet each way. I don’t think we guarded our yard very well.”

The win helps keep alive UCF’s chances for a possible NCAA Tournament bid thanks to the strength of the Big 12. The conference had eight teams ranked in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll and the league has the most impressive NET average ranking (46.0) among all the Division I conferences.

The Knights are 1 game under .500 in conference play and would need a strong finish over the final 9 games to have a legitimate shot at the postseason.

“We have our standards and our expectations,” said Dawkins. “We still haven’t achieved what I think we can achieve. So for us, we’re going to keep pushing and keep fighting because we still haven’t reached our full potential.”

While 300 wins is a huge milestone for Dawkins, he’s eager to share the accolades.

“I’m just very grateful that I’ve been able to coach some amazing young men not just because of wins but because of the people that they are and and the people that they’ve become,” he said. “I told my team after the game that I look back at each one of the teams that I’ve coached and the players that were on those teams, and I’m just thankful I’ve had a chance to work with some amazing people.”

Email Matt Murschel at or follow him on X at @osmattmurschel.