The unranked UCF Knights staged a monumental second half comeback to shock the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks 65-60 on Wednesday night. Down by 16 points early in the second half, UCF clamped down on defense and rallied with a 29-7 run to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the college basketball season.
UCF Trails by 16 Before Epic Comeback
Kansas looked poised to cruise to an easy win for much of the first half, taking a 35-24 lead into halftime. The Jayhawks extended that advantage to 43-27 after the break before UCF began its improbable comeback.
“We just stayed the course,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “It was a strong effort from a very good Kansas team as expected. I’m proud that our guys continued to battle.”
The Knights cranked up the defensive pressure during their epic 29-7 run, forcing Kansas into 9 turnovers over a 12 minute stretch. Kansas shot just 25% from the field during that same period.
“Our activity was better in the second half on both ends,” Dawkins said. “I thought it really picked up for us and changed the energy in the building.”
Meanwhile on offense, UCF guards Darius Johnson and CJ Kelly combined for 32 second half points. Johnson did the bulk of the damage, scoring 18 of his game-high 24 points after halftime.
“DJ was special tonight,” Dawkins said. “He put us on his back.”
Knights Make History With Monumental Upset
UCF had never defeated a top-25 opponent prior to Wednesday night’s stunning upset. Their only other win over a top-5 team came against No. 4 Duke back in 2019.
“I’m sure it’ll register some day, but for now we’re just excited about this win,” Dawkins said. “I’m happy for our fans and our players.”
In addition to entering unfamiliar territory in the AP poll, UCF also claimed its first ever Big 12 conference victory with the win. The Knights (11-4) recently joined the Big 12 after over a decade in the American Athletic Conference.
“We have the utmost respect for Kansas and their program,” Dawkins said about the significance of beating a Big 12 heavyweight. “It feels great anytime you can break new ground like this.”
Meanwhile, the loss snaps a lengthy home winning streak for Kansas (13-2) inside Allen Fieldhouse. It was the Jayhawks first home defeat since falling to Texas on January 29, 2022.
| Kansas Home Winning Streaks Snapped |
| 2022-2024: 30 straight wins |
| 2016-2017: 51 straight wins |
| 2007-2008: 62 straight wins |
Dickinson Injured As Kansas Offense Sputters
Kansas entered the game boasting one of the top offenses in college basketball, ranking 5th nationally with over 85 points per game. But the Jayhawk offense never found its rhythm against UCF’s stifling defense.
Making matters worse, Kansas lost star center Hunter Dickinson to a lower body injury late in the first half. Dickinson had scored 7 points in the opening 20 minutes before exiting with the injury. He did not return in the second half.
“That was a big loss,” Kansas coach Bill Self admitted. “We missed [Dickinson] during key stretches.”
With their leading scorer sidelined, Kansas struggled mightily to generate offense down the stretch. Jalen Wilson led the cold-shooting Jayhawks with 18 points. No other Kansas player scored in double-figures.
“We stopped moving the ball,” Self said about his team’s second half offensive woes. “And we took some ill-advised shots.”
What This Means Going Forward
- First ever win over a top-5 team at home
- Likely to enter AP top-25 poll next week
- Gains confidence before tough upcoming stretch
- Chance to make national statement in inaugural Big 12 season
- Snaps 30 game home winning streak
- Raises concerns about offense without Hunter Dickinson
- Puts more pressure on upcoming road tests
- Opens door in competitive Big 12 title race
The monumental upset shakes up both the national landscape and Big 12 conference going forward. UCF now owns a signature win to hang its hat on after joining the Big 12 this season.
Meanwhile for Kansas, there are new questions about its national title hopes if Dickinson’s injury proves serious. There is also suddenly far more intrigue in the Big 12 race, with the Jayhawks looking vulnerable in their first conference test.
No matter what happens next, UCF and Kansas will remember this night for years to come after the Knights’ stunning conquest of the college basketball titans.
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