Then someone changed the Energizer battery and Jackson went to work on the defensive end, securing rebounds and blocking shots. His gritty display showed remnants of the type of effort Cincinnati used to get from Eric Hicks.
"Justin Jackson was awesome for us on the defensive end in the second half," said head coach Mick Cronin. "We were struggling to get rebounds. I challenged Justin. Rebounding is all about toughness, and he is the toughest guy we have. It's as explosive as I have seen him. He took our defense and rebounding to the next level. Once we started getting defensive rebound, we were able to get the lead."
As Jackson crashed the boards, limiting the Cardinals' second shots, the Bearcats surged ahead. The 6-8 forward was in the middle of the game-changing 14-0 run that fueled the 60-56 victory.
"That's his job," said junior guard Cashmere Wright. "Coach said when Jaquon (Parker) went down, he had to be more effective in his effort and that is what he did."
Parker looked to re-aggravate his groin when he was fouled on a rebound in the first half and didn't return. Cronin wouldn't comment on the injury, but said he hoped to have him available for Saturday's game against South Florida.
NO OFFENSE: Due to Louisville's ability to change defenses within the possession, Cronin decided to scrap the traditional offense.
"He told us to just play," said Wright. "If you open, shoot if you have the drive, drive. There are no plays this game, just play basketball. If you beat your man, everything will take care of itself."
SHUTOUT:The mission was simple, don't give Kyle Kuric or Chris Smith an open look or you will find yourself on the bench. The Cincinnati defense limited the pair to seven points, but they were 0-for-15 from the field.
PITINO FACTOR: Louisville coach Rick Pitino usually takes his former assistants to task when they meet head to head. In fact, all assistants no named Cronin, have been the mentor five times in 36 games. With Thursday's victory, Cronin improved to 4-4 against Pitino.
"Coach Cronin loves winning this game and we like winning it for him," said senior Yancy Gates. "You beat Louisville you are off the next day, you lose to Louisville and you have practice the next morning."