CINCINNATI (AP) — Justin Jackson had his third straight double-double, and Cincinnati used its free-throw shooting and defense to overcome a poor shooting game by top scorer Sean Kilpatrick on Saturday, pulling away to a 74-59 victory over Nebraska.
The Bearcats (11-2) have won four in a row since back-to-back losses to New Mexico and Xavier.
Jackson had 15 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Freshman Kevin Johnson had a career-high 11 points, all in the first half as Cincinnati pulled ahead to stay.
Kilpatrick, who averages 18.9 points per game, went 2 of 13 from the field and missed all of his five shots from behind the arc. He drew fouls and went 17 of 18 from the line. Cincinnati was 25 of 30 overall on free throws.
Terran Petteway scored 22 points and Ray Gallegos matched his season high with 18 points for Nebraska (8-4), which shot 35.7 percent from the field against one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. The Bearcats have held seven teams under 60 points.
Nebraska has dropped games to Massachusetts, Alabama-Birmingham, Creighton and Cincinnati.
The Bearcats were coming off a 102-62 win over Chicago State that featured the most dominant rebounding performance in school history. They had a plus-48 rebounding margin that set a school record.
Cincinnati had a 40-30 edge in rebounds over the Cornhuskers.
Petteway, the Cornhuskers’ leading scorer at 16.8 points per game, picked up two fouls in the first 62 seconds and went to the bench for the next 6 minutes. Nebraska kept it close without him, setting up 10 lead changes and two ties.
Cincinnati went ahead to stay with an 11-2 spurt. Johnson hit a fastbreak layup and a 3-pointer during the run. Petteway ended the run with a 3-pointer, his first basket of the game.
The Bearcats led 35-27 at halftime behind Johnson’s 11 points. The Cornhuskers had trouble finding open shots against Cincinnati’s trapping defense and shot only 34 percent from the field in the half with five turnovers.
Petteway was only 1 of 4 from the field in the half with three points.
The Bearcats opened the second half determined to get the ball inside. Jackson scored their first three baskets, two of them off spin moves for open bank shots and a 41-33 lead. The Bearcats stayed ahead even though Kilpatrick, their top scorer, kept missing shots.
The Cornhuskers felt the defensive pressure. Taj Webster was closely guarded when he threw a cross-court pass that sailed over the Cornhuskers’ bench and a row of fans before landing in the stands.
Petteway hit back-to-back 3s that cut the lead to 47-44, but the Cornhuskers never had a chance to even it. Titus Rubles’ steal and pass to Jackson for a dunk gave the Bearcats a 62-48 lead, their biggest up to that point, with 5:49 left. They led by as many as 17 points while closing it out.