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UCF Basketball’s Win Over #3 Kansas Is the Greatest Win in Program History

Knights upset over the Jayhawks again solidifies Johnny Dawkins’ place as UCF’s greatest D1 hoops coach

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday marked the greatest win in UCF Knights Basketball history, and one of the greatest wins in UCF Athletics history. The Knights defeated their highest-ranked opponent ever and won the program’s first home game as a member of the Big 12 against FREAKING KANSAS!

Yes, it is only January. But ten or twenty years from now, if you were in the building or watched on ESPN+, you will remember this night.

UCF previously had top-10 wins over UConn (2011) in the Bahamas and at Houston (2019), which I felt was the biggest win in program history because it was a win that cemented UCF’s at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. My friend Brian Murphy would argue with me for the Cincinnati win in 2019 to lock up the bid on Senior Knight.

But this is the first win against a nationally-ranked top-three opponent, the second against a top-five team (UConn was #4), and it’s KANSAS! So this is the biggest regular-season win.

If you want to include the postseason, the NIT Elite 8 win against Illinois and the NCAA Tournament win over VCU are near the top of the list.

But slaying a blueblood for your first Big 12 win is a hell of a way to start conference play for this program, which has been told by many college basketball fans and media that they do not belong in the best conference in college basketball.

Since Addition Financial Arena opened in 2007, I have seen six court-storming UCF wins. Four of them happened in the Dawkins era, who called the win Wednesday night the best win at UCF.

I have been public in my support of Coach Dawkins, which I highlighted in the column I wrote back on February 28, 2023, and gets brought up after a loss like at Kansas State this past Saturday by some critics. I am guessing those critics won’t like this statement, so I’ll repeat it:

Johnny Dawkins is the greatest UCF Basketball Head Coach in the D1 Era.

UCF has nine wins against top-25 teams. Six of those are by Dawkins, who outcoached a top-ten all-time Hall of Fame Basketball Coach in Kansas’ Bill Self by playing more zone than UCF had played all season long.

Why play zone against the Jayhawks? Because Dawkins and his staff knew that the Jayhawks only saw zone defense against them on 30 possessions this season before UCF. And it worked! It helped lead the Knights’ comeback from 16 down to knock off Kansas and produce another memorable night. A night that will be part of the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame video package years down the road when Dawkins is inducted.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Take Bill Self, who, when I asked him about what Dawkins brings to UCF, he said class, and that we were fortunate to have him.

I have no idea what will happen the rest of this season or how UCF will fare in Big 12 Basketball in the coming years. But what I do know is I will always remember the night we beat Kansas as one of the greatest in UCF Athletics history.

We discuss where Kansas win ranks all-time on KnightShift Podcast.