Justin Jackson matched his career high by blocking seven shots and Sean Kilpatrick scored 19 points with a strong second half that carried No. 15 Cincinnati to its 11th straight win Thursday night, 69-51 over Central Florida.
Cincinnati (19-2, 7-0 American Athletic) is off to its best start since 2001-02, when it was in Conference USA. The Bearcats' 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. They took control of this one by opening the second half with an 18-5 run.
Central Florida (9-8, 1-5) has lost four in a row. The Knights were only 5 of 16 from the free throw line, had 14 turnovers and shot 34 percent from the field.
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.
Jackson had a team-high eight points, blocked five shots and had four steals as Cincinnati led 30-27 at halftime. The 6-foot-8 forward got the Bearcats revved up by blocking a shot, making a steal and blocking another shot on three straight UCF possessions.
The Knights went 5:29 without scoring in the first half and missed 13 of 16 shots during one span, helping Cincinnati pull ahead by as many as eight points. The Knights put together their first run of the game to close the half. Calvin Newell had a steal and layup and a driving bank shot during a 9-3 spurt that cut it to 30-27.
Kilpatrick opened the second half with a 3-pointer from the left corner, starting the run that left the Bearcats in control. Kilpatrick also had a pair of free throws and a layup during the 18-5 surge, which featured six turnovers by Central Florida.
The Bearcats made eight of their first 11 shots in the half while pulling ahead 53-35. Jackson also had an emphatic block and celebrated by sticking out his lower lip while the student section chanted his name.
Kilpatrick's 3-pointer from the left corner made it 58-38 midway through the second half. Central Florida never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
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