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Cincinnati loses forward Justin Jackson with ankle sprain

(Elsa/Getty Images)Justin Jackson is averaging 11.6 points and 7.3 rebounds for the streaking Bearcats. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Senior forward Justin Jackson has helped lead No. 15 Cincinnati to a surprising 19-2 record and 8-0 start in American Athletic Conference play, but his status for one of the Bearcats’ biggest games of the season is unclear.

Jackson is day-to-day after suffering an ankle sprain six minutes into Cincinnati’s four-point win at Temple on Sunday, Bearcats coach Mick Cronin told Sporting News. Cincinnati plays at No. 12 Louisville on Thursday.

Over 21 games, Jackson has more than doubled his scoring average (3.8 points per game to 11.6) and increased his rebounding (5.1 to 7.3) and blocks (1.4 to 3.5) while playing more minutes (18.8 to 27.1) than last season.

Jackson has also developed into an elite defender and rim protector; his 14.5 block percentage and 4.2 steal percentage rank in the nation’s top 35, according to kenpom.com.

The Bearcats are undefeated since losing to Xavier on December 14 and have already beaten top-four AAC teams Southern Methodist and No. 23 Memphis. Cincinnati holds a 1.5-game lead over the Cardinals for first place in the conference standings.

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