Jan. 1, 2014
CINCINNATI - Justin Jackson (Cocoa Beach, Fla./Arlington Country Day) did a little bit of everything, helping lead the University of Cincinnati men's basketball team to a 65-57 win over SMU in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams, Wednesday inside Fifth Third Arena.
Jackson scored a game-high 17 points, hit a career-best seven free throws, grabbed six rebounds, tied his season high with five blocks, a career-high five steals and went diving over two rows of courtside seats chasing a loose ball.
"He did everything but take tickets and babysit my daughter tonight," Head Coach Mick Cronin said after the game.
The Bearcats (12-2, 1-0 American) ran their winning streak to five games, moved their record to 21-3 all-time in league lid-lifters since 1990 and 6-0 in their first league game of a new conference. UC has won 13-straight at Fifth Third Arena, dating back to a 61-56 win over UConn on March 2, 2013.
SMU (10-3, 0-1 American) was held to 57 points, its second-lowest scoring output of the season. The Mustangs were the 21st straight UC opponent to be held under 70 points, the nation's longest active streak.
UC held a decided advantage in free throws, getting to the line 31 times compared to nine for the visitors. UC hit 23 of 31 from the charity stripe and outscored SMU 20-12 inside the paint in the second half. The Bearcats were disruptive, forcing 17 turnovers, converting them into 16 points and grabbing double-digit steals for the fifth time this season (11).
The Mustangs hit their first shot out of the halftime break, bringing the margin down to two, 34-32, with 19:33 remaining in the game, the closest they would get for the remainder of the night. UC led by as many as 11, holding SMU to a 2-for-11 shooting effort in the final 4:11 on the way to the win.
Sean Kilpatrick finished with 13 points, six assists and three rebounds. Shaquille Thomas poured in 10 while Jermaine Sanders and Troy Caupain added 10 and seven points off the bench, respectively.
SMU was led by Markus Kennedy's 12 points and nine rebounds.
UC held a 32-30 halftime advantage after trailing by as many as eight in the first stanza.
SMU led by as many as eight, 20-12, with 7:16 remaining in the period. From there, UC ran off a 15-2 run over the next four-plus minutes, moving out to a five-point advantage, 29-24, with 2:01 to go. UC closed the half hitting five of its last 10 shots after starting 3-for-16 from the floor.
UC is back in action on Saturday, Jan. 4, hitting the road to take on Memphis in the FEDEX Forum at noon ET in a game televised on ESPN2. The Bearcats close out a two-game road swing in Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 7, taking on the Cougars in Hofheinz Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET and the game will air on the CBS Sports Network.