UCF Men’s Basketball is 4-0 to start the 2021 campaign. It will host the 5-1 Oklahoma Sooners this Saturday at Addition Financial Arena. Here are a few key items to look out for in the matchup as the Knights look to stay undefeated.
UCF Players to Watch
UCF is led in scoring by Darin Green, Jr. at 16.3 points per game, including an impressive 23 point performance on the road vs the Miami Hurricanes. The junior has continued to shoot the lights out from beyond the arc, making his 3-point shots at a 48% clip on 6.3 attempts per game through four games. Early on he has looked like UCF’s best offensive weapon. Expect him to garner some extra attention from the Oklahoma defense.
CJ Walker is showing signs of improvement after an underwhelming 2020 season for him. The 6’8” junior transfer forward from Oregon, and former 5-star recruit, has taken a step forward offensively, which is something the Knights have been looking for from him. At 11 points per game, Walker has been very efficient to this point, making 63% of his field goal attempts, 40% of his three point attempts, and is shooting 80% from the free throw line. He also leads the Knights in rebounding with 5.8 boards per game. He is really finding his rhythm, and his athleticism alone has made an impact in every game on both ends of the floor.
Darius Perry has been a fantastic floor general for UCF since transferring in last season from Louisville. He has brought a balance to the UCF offense similar to that of former Knight BJ Taylor. Perry can do a little bit of everything. Perhaps most notably, Perry has done a fantastic job of facilitating, averaging a career-best 4.5 assists per contest. He is also scoring 12.8 points per game, and is shooting the three ball very well, at 45%.
Oklahoma Players to Watch
Tanner Groves has been the player to watch for the Sooners in 2021. The older brother of teammate Jacob Groves, Tanner transferred over to Oklahoma this season from Eastern Washington and has immediately taken the spotlight for them. Some may remember Tanner’s 35 point performance against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament last season, a game that likely gave Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger the confidence in him to essentially run the team. Through 6 games, he is scoring 18 points per game.
Jalen Hill is another intriguing player for Oklahoma. So far, this looks like the start to a breakout season for him. He is at a career high in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, field goal percentage, three point percentage, and free throw percentage. He plays the game in a similar fashion to that of top draft picks this season, Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, though he is not at the same level as them. Look for him to be a thorn in UCF’s side all game long, as he seems to be everywhere on the court at once.
Notes and Trends
**UCF received one top 25 vote in the most recent coaches poll.
**The Knights are looking to start the season with five consecutive wins for the first time since 2010-11.
**This will be the first true road game for Oklahoma this season. They were 4-7 on the road last season.
The Knights have been stellar at home the last few seasons, and Oklahoma has been quite the opposite on the road. These two teams play at a similar level, so the Knights get the edge thanks to the home court advantage, but this game will likely go down to the wire.
UCF 81 Oklahoma 76