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UCF pulls off huge upset over No. 3 Kansas

The No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks just could not get rid of the pesky UCF Knights basketball team at Addition Financial Arena on Wednesday night.

Darius Johnson hit a pair of free throws with 14.8 seconds left before Kansas missed two desperation 3-pointers as time ran out and UCF pulled off the biggest upset in program history with a 65-60 victory over the Jayhawks.

Johnson finished with 17 points, Jaylin Sellers had 18 and Ibrahima Diallo had 13 points and played tremendous defense to lead the Knights.

It was a far cry from the Knights’ performance in their Big 12 opener at Kansas State on Saturday, losing 77-52.

UCF came alive in the second half, surging to a 50-44 lead with a 21-7 run in the first nine minutes. It seemed that every Knights player had a piece in the turnabout. Sellers was making plays all over, Johnson was burying 3s, Diallo was a force in the paint and C.J. Walker was applying some feisty defense.

It was a team effort that had to have coach Johnny Dawkins beaming and the Knights sellout crowd was loud and into it.

UCF’s 7-footer Diallo was blanketing Kansas 7-foot-2 center Hunter Dickinson all night, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and putting shots over top of Dickinson’s outstretched arms. Dickson struggled on defense with Diallo and picked up his fourth foul with 1:52 remaining.

Walker hit two free throws after the foul to put UCF on top 61-57.

There were times when it appeared Kansas would run away with this game, but UCF kept clawing back.

In the first three minutes of the game, UCF had everybody fired up. After missing their first two shots, the Knights maintained possession with a pair of offensive rebounds, culminating in a 3-pointer from Sellers. UCF hit three straight baskets and led the Jayhawks 7-0, prompting a timeout by KU coach Bill Self.

Three minutes later, the game was tied 7-7, and Kansas (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) began its roll and eventually led by 16 points in UCF’s first home game as a member of the BIg 12 Conference.

UCF (10-4, 1-1) did not surrender. The Knights kept fighting. In the first half, every time it appeared as if the Jayhawks were about to run away, UCF would fight back. Trailing 23-12 with 9:05 left before halftime, UCF got a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer from Sellers and the crowd lit up again.

On the ensuing KU possession, CJ Walker came up with a steal and he raced down the court for a breakaway layup, but KU’s Nicolas TImberlake tracked him down and hammered him before the shot. The foul caused a bit of a dust-up under the basket and nearly into the seats as security quickly rallied to control the situation. UCF’s Thierno Sylla came off the bench during the altercation and was ejected from the game.

UCF got within 23-17, but KU ripped off another run of eight straight points and threatened to pull away again, 35-19 with 3:44 left in the half.

But back stormed UCF with its own 10-0 run and the Knights trailed just 37-29 at the break.