The University of Cincinnati student section was chanting Justin Jackson’s name after an emphatic blocked shot early in the second half followed by one of Jackson’s best mean faces of the year. This wasn’t just any blocked shot. Central Florida’s Staphon Blair had gone up to attempt a dunk over Jackson. Bad idea. “I felt disrespected,” Jackson said. Jackson’s block of Blair’s ill-advised dunk attempt was the highlight Thursday night for the Bearcats, who broke open a close game early in the second half and put away the Knights, 69-51, before 10,242 fans at Fifth Third Arena to extend their winning streak to 11. Sean Kilpatrick led UC with 19 points, 14 in the second half. Jackson scored 12 points, with seven blocked shots, four steals and two rebounds to lead UC. Jackson’s seven blocks tied his career high. Jermaine Sanders came off the bench to score 10 points. No. 15 UC (18-2, 7-0 American Athletic Conference) has won 16 straight at Fifth Third Arena and is unbeaten at home this season. UCF (9-8, 1-5) has lost its last four games. Jackson said he didn’t pay much attention to the fans chanting his name because he was too much into the game, but afterwards he admitted it was pretty cool. “It’s an honor to get your name chanted,” Jackson said. “You don’t hear that every day.” So the beat goes on for UC, which hasn’t lost a game since getting blown out by Xavier on Dec. 14. The Bearcats still have a tendency to struggle sometimes in the first half, but are developing a reputation as a second-half team. If you have to be better in one half than the other, the second is definitely the one to choose. The Bearcats shot 47.2 percent to 38.5 percent for UCF and out-rebounded the Knights, 36-30. Jackson had only two of those rebounds, 5.5 below his average, but guards Ge’Lawn Guyn and Troy Caupain helped pick up the slack with four each. The Knights hurt themselves by making only six of 17 free throws. “I thought we got a little sloppy in the first half,” said UC coach Mick Cronin. “But again, it was our defense, to hold a team to 38 percent, and we were also able to outrebound a team that was much bigger than us. We fought through a lot of foul trouble in the first half.” Leading by only three at halftime, UC put the game out of reach early in the second half. The Bearcats outscored the Knights, 10-2, and 18-5 to take a 48-32 lead with just over 14:44 to play. Kilpatrick started the half with a 3-pointer to set the tone.
Strong second half puts UC ahead of UCF, 69-51
Cincinnati Enquirer | Jan 24