Central Florida Knights vs. Kansas Jayhawks Pick & Prediction JANUARY 10th 2024

Kansas has won nine straight games, but that didn’t prevent the Jayhawks from dropping a spot in the latest national rankings.

The now-No. 3 Jayhawks will aim to extend their winning streak to double digits when they meet UCF on Wednesday night in Big 12 play at Orlando, Fla.

Kansas (13-1, 1-0) was passed in the rankings by new Big 12 rival Houston, which is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the nation. The Jayhawks’ lone loss of the season was to then-No. 4 Marquette in the Maui Invitational semifinals on Nov. 21.

Consecutive victory No. 9 didn’t come without consternation as Kansas edged visiting TCU 83-81 on Saturday.

The winning layup by star big man Hunter Dickinson came with 3.4 seconds remaining. Dickinson had 30 points and 11 rebounds while continuing his fine season.

Dickinson and the Jayhawks also were the beneficiaries of a highly questionable flagrant 1 foul on TCU’s Ernest Udeh Jr. with just under a minute remaining.

Udeh grabbed a rebound with TCU leading by two points, but his right forearm smacked Dickinson in the face. Dickinson made two free throws to tie it, the Jayhawks were granted possession, and Dajuan Harris put them ahead with a jumper. TCU later tied the score prior to Dickinson’s winning hoop.

“Hopefully, I won’t have to take an elbow (to the face) to get a chance to win the game,” Dickinson said afterward. “But I’ll do whatever it takes to win the game. It’s really fun to go out there with guys that know how to win and get it done at the end of the day.”

Dickinson ranks second on the Jayhawks in scoring at 19.4 points per game and leads in rebounding at 12.4. Kevin McCullar Jr. averages a team-best 20.1 points while KJ Adams Jr. contributes 12.6 per outing.

That trio has done nearly two-thirds of the scoring for a Kansas team that lacks balance. Harris is the fourth-leading scorer at 7.1 points per game.

“We’re all for somebody else stepping up,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “But you know, we’re not going to win all our games with four guys doing all the scoring.”

UCF (9-4, 0-1) experienced a rough time Saturday in its first Big 12 conference game as it was routed 77-52 by host Kansas State.

“(The Big 12) has been the best basketball conference in probably eight of the last 10 years,” Knights coach Johnny Dawkins said. “For us, we’re looking forward to competing. We’ve got one game under our belts — we have 17 more, and every team is going to be like the type of team we played (Saturday night).

“They’re all going to be very good. We understand that and respect them all. We’re going to keep working hard and keep growing as a team.”

The point total was the lowest of the season for the Knights, who shot just 21.6 percent from the field in the first half and 33.8 percent overall.

Leading scorer Jaylin Sellers (17.8) had just eight points against Kansas State and failed to score in double digits for the first time this season.

Darius Johnson (13.9) and Marchelus Avery (10.6) also average in double digits for UCF.

This will be the first meeting between the Knights and Jayhawks.

–Field Level Media

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