- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - Central Florida’s shots wouldn’t fall. Not from the perimeter, not from the free throw line.

And against No. 15 Cincinnati, not even the dunks were going in.

Justin Jackson matched his career high by blocking seven shots and Sean Kilpatrick scored 19 points with a strong second half that carried Cincinnati to its 11th straight victory Thursday night, 69-51 over the Knights.

The Bearcats took control by opening the second half with an 18-5 run set up by six turnovers, sending Central Florida (9-8, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) on course for its fourth consecutive loss.


“I thought we played tough defensively and thought we did a good job of getting to the line, but we couldn’t make free throws,” coach Donnie Jones said. “If you are not making them, you aren’t getting anything out of it, so you resort to jump shots.”

Calvin Newell scored 12 points for the Knights, who were only 5 of 16 from the free throw line, had 14 turnovers and shot just 36 percent from the field in the second half.

The Knights are last in the AAC from the free throw line, making only 59.4 percent. They’ve been held to 46 and 51 points in their last two losses.

“We have to handle the ball better,” Jones said. “I had to call a couple of timeouts there to get us together. Their pressure was pretty good. Cincinnati made some big plays. We still have to make free throws.”

The defining play came in the second half when Staphon Blair went up for a dunk, ready to slam the ball down with both hands. Jackson wasn’t going to let that happen.

“I was like, ‘Really?’” Jackson said. “They’re going to do that? I blocked it.”

The Bearcats (19-2, 7-0) are off to their best start since 2001-02, when they played in Conference USA. The winning streak is their longest since they opened last season with 12 wins.

And it’s been mostly a matter of defense. The Bearcats have held their last 27 opponents under 70 points, the longest active streak in Division I.

“We take a lot of pride in it,” Kilpatrick said.

Jackson steadied Cincinnati through a ragged first half, most of which Kilpatrick watched from the bench with two fouls. Jackson finished with 12 points and four steals.

Kilpatrick leads the AAC at 18.6 points per game, but was limited to five points in only 9 minutes during the opening half because of fouls. Jackson took over at both ends of the court, helping the Bearcats hold an early lead through most of the half.

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