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Kansas State Basketball: UCF Preview

Kansas State Welcomes UCF to the Big 12 and The Octagon of Doom! Drew has everything you need to know about the current newest addition to the Big 12.

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Memphis Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

University of Central Florida

Overall Record: 9-3

Big 12: 0-0

KenPom: # 76

Basic Information

Location: Orlando, Florida

Type of School: Public Research University

Mascot: Knightro and Pegasus featuring the Golden Knight (What in the SEC is going on? Why 2 mascots?)

Head Coach - Johnny Dawkins

Seasons at UCF: 8

UCF Record: 140-90

Other Head Coaching Jobs:

Stanford (156-115)

Overall Record: 296-205

Regular Season Conference Championships: 0

Conference Tournament Championships: 0

NCAA Appearances: 2 (Stanford - 1, UCF - 1)

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 104.9 (161)

Avg. Poss. Length: 16.5 (90)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 94.9 (25)

Avg. Poss. Length: 17.9

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 67.5 (271)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 47.1 (271)

Turnover %: 17.2 (153)

Off. Reb. %: 35.4 (38)

FTA/FGA: 48.4 (5)

Defense

Effective FG%: 44.6 (23)

Turnover %: 21.3 (33)

Off. Reb. %: 31.8 (249)

FTA/FGA: 32.7 (183)

Personnel

UCF Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Point Guard 3 Darius Johnson Jr. 6'1" 200 31 14.3 3 3.6 1.8 0.1
Shooting Guard 2 Shemarri Allen Sr. 6'4" 190 UMKC 28 7.6 4.1 2.5 1.4 0.6
Wing 24 Jaylin Sellers Jr. 6'4" 200 Ball State 31.7 18.6 4.5 1.2 1.8 0
Forward 12 DeMarr Langford Sr. 6'5" 230 Boston College 15 2.9 1.9 1.1 1.1 0.1
Center 5 Omar Payne Sr. 6'10" 230 Florida 15 5.3 4 0.8 0.9 1.3

UCF Bench

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Wing/Forward 13 Marchelus Avery Sr. 6'7" 210 New Mexico State 23 11.3 4.5 1.1 1.1 0.6
Center 11 Ibrahima Diallo 5th Year 7'0" 250 Ohio State 17.9 6.3 6.1 0.3 0.8 2.3
Power Forward 21 CJ Walker 5th Year 6'8" 215 Oregon 14.5 5.5 4.5 1.5 0.5 0
Shooting Guard 22 Nils Machowski Fr. 6'3" 180 N/A 11.4 2.6 1.2 1.2 0.4 0.1
Center 31 Thierno Sylla So. 6'11" 215 N/A 18.3 6.3 5.5 0.6 0.5 0.5

UCF on Offense

Watching UCF play isn’t pretty; it’s pure chaos on offense. Looking at their roster, it’s not hard to see why. The plaque outside the UCF locker room should read, “Give me your tired, your poor, your discarded 3-time transfers yearning to start for a D1 team in their 5th year.” Seriously, their roster reads more like a group of guys waiting at a Greyhound bus terminal that decided to start a college basketball team. There is talent on their roster, but everything still looks disjointed.

They mainly play 4 around 1, with four perimeter players working around whoever is playing center. It’s tough to say who the “1” will be because UCF is one of the worst (not really a value judgment) teams in the nation in terms of minutes continuity. They play 11 guys, but it doesn’t feel like they play them in any particular order.

In theory, Jaylin Sellers is their go-to scorer, the Ball State transfer. He’s currently at 19 points, but he’s been a volume chucker in UCF’s rare game against a formidable opponent. In their loss to Mississippi State, he put up 11 points, going 3-7 from 2 and 0-5 from 3. If Sellers wants to shoot a 3, let him; he loves shooting 3’s despite lacking the ability to make them. He has attempted 11 more 3’s (68) than Darius Johnson but is hitting at a 25% clip.

WARNING: Sellers was a career 45% 3-point shooter before this season. Let him shoot, but if he makes a couple, it’s time to guard him.

He’s at his best when he uses his size to get into the lane and finish at the rim. He likes going left and finishing with his left hand. Whoever draws the assignment needs to force him right. He wants to set up on the right side of the lane and work his way across to the left hand. They run some interesting curl sets at the free throw line that allow him to get downhill.

Darius Johnson is the other scorer for the Knights. He runs the show from the point and also has a quick trigger from 3, but unlike Sellers, he is hitting them at a 37% clip. Like Sellers, he’s a strong guard capable of holding off defenders and finishing at the rim when he’s not bailing out the defense by chucking a quick 3.

Other than that, it’s tough to tell who is going to step up as the 3rd option. Marchelus Avery is a gunner from deep, averaging 4 attempts a game and shooting 45%. Best not to leave him alone. Shemarri Allen averaged 17 a game last season at UMKC but hasn’t found it at UCF yet. He’s another strong, experienced guard capable of holding off defenders and finishing.

After that, who knows?

Their centers are more of the offensive rebound, rim finisher types. Got to keep them off the glass, but they’re not much of a threat in a straight post-up. Looking at their crazy rotation, I have no idea who else is going to see the court in this one.

UCF on Defense

Think early Texas under Shaka Smart, but without the same caliber of athlete. If Kansas State loses this one, it’s because UCF managed to turn bad Wildcat offense into points going the other way. They’re 12th in the nation in steal percentage (13.4%), 9th in block percentage (16.1), and 30th in Non-Steal turnovers. Their overall 23.4% turnover rate is good for 8th in the country.

Keep in mind, folks, they’ve played no one though. These stats are all skewed because they’ve only played 2 teams (Miami and Ole Miss) in the KenPom top 100, and they lost both of them. Their best win, according to KenPom, is a 74-71 overtime victory over 131st-ranked Charlotte. Their second-best win is 147th-ranked South Dakota State. To say UCF hasn’t played anyone would be an understatement. Miami put up 88 points on them, and Ole Miss managed 70. Holding Maine, Florida A&M, and Bethune Cookman under 60 points doesn’t do much for me.

In theory, Coach Tang has a roster of guards and wings at his disposal that should make quick work of the UCF pressure. Once they break it, they need to look to score AT THE BASKET! UCF wants you to take bad 3’s early in the clock. They invite you to try, and I could see the ‘Cats taking the bait. If you move them around and attack the basket, open buckets will materialize.

The only issue with attacking the paint is Ibrahima Diallo’s shot-blocking ability. He currently leads the nation in block percentage (14.6%). He’s been a consistent shot blocker at both Ohio State and San Jose St. but against Tier A&B KenPom teams this season, his block percentage nosedives to 5.6%. He might block a shot. Hell, he might block 2 or 3 if he’s feeling froggy, but it should not deter the ‘Cats from consistently attacking the rim against this team.

Enough running and gunning. I want to see the Wildcats attacking downhill and building an actual base for their offense other than “hope we hit some contested 3’s.” Get in the lane, attack the basket, and let the offense start there instead of 3 feet behind the 3-point line.

Patience will be key. It’s time for this team to show some and not launch the first somewhat open look towards the hoop.

Prediction

KenPom

Kansas State: 71

UCF: 67

Confidence: 39%

Drew

Kansas State: 65

UCF: 61

I think this is going to be a painful-to-watch, low-scoring affair. I’ll take the ‘Cats at home in this one. If they hit a few early 3’s and get going, they could potentially blow them out of the gym, but I’ll believe in the Wildcat’s shooting as soon as they give me a reason. I hope they give me that reason tonight.