Ibrahima Diallo paces UCF past Oklahoma State

March 13, 2024 6:11 am

[Source: Reuters]

Ibrahima Diallo put up a career-high 17 points, 11 rebounds and three steals as UCF sprinted away in the second half to defeat Oklahoma State 77-62 in the first game of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.

The 12th-seeded Knights (17-14), in their first season playing in the Big 12, advanced to face fifth-seeded BYU in the second round Wednesday.

The Knights held 13th-seeded Oklahoma State (12-20) without a field goal for a 9:34 span bridging the two halves. UCF scored the first 13 points of the second half to break open a close game.

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C.J. Walker scored 12 points and Darius Johnson tallied 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for UCF, which outshot Oklahoma State 50 percent (9-of-18) to 31 percent (9-of-29) from beyond the arc. UCF scored 17 points off 13 Cowboys turnovers.

Javon Small hit 5 of 11 3-point attempts to finish with 21 points for Oklahoma State. Eric Dailey Jr. had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Johnson’s triple at the 11:26 mark established a 15-9 UCF lead, but the Cowboys would keep it closer than that for the rest of the half. They scored 10 of the next 14 points to tie the game with 5:49 before halftime.

Small knocked down a 3 to put Oklahoma State briefly ahead 24-21, but Sellers’ jumper and Thierno Sylla’s trey in quick succession launched the Knights back ahead.

When Oklahoma State crawled back within a point in the final minute, Marchelus Avery responded with a 3-pointer with nine seconds left for UCF’s 35-31 halftime cushion.

The Knights seized momentum, starting the second half with a free throw by Diallo, Walker’s 3 and Jaylin Sellers’ transition layup and foul shot to take their first double-digit lead at 42-31.

They grew it to 48-31 before one free throw by Dailey got Oklahoma State on the board. But Sellers’ acrobatic layup and Johnson’s second-chance triple blew it open to a 53-32 margin with 12:15 to play.

Oklahoma State missed its first eight field-goal attempts of the half and committed four turnovers during its shooting rut.

Finally, Dailey made a jumper at the 11:50 mark to give the Cowboys a much-needed basket, but by then it was over. UCF went on a 12-2 run to lead by as many as 27 before Oklahoma State made the margin respectable.