Second-half surge propels Central Arkansas past UIW, 77-60


Incarnate Word freshman Jordan Caruso hits a 10 footer off the baseline to complete a chaotic play in the first half against Central Arkansas.

Forward Eddy Kayouloud scored 18 points and 7-footer Hayden Koval had 13 points and 7 rebounds, lifting the Central Arkansas Bears to an easy 77-60 victory over the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals on Wednesday night.

In a Southland Conference game played at UIW, Central Arkansas point guard Deandre Jones also produced in a big way with 9 points, 8 assists and 4 steals.

While Kayouloud and Koval dominated on offense, hitting a combined 12 of 17 from the field, Jones spearheaded a defense that forced the Cardinals into 17 turnovers.

Central Arkansas scored 15 points off of UIW mistakes in winning their second SLC road game of the season.

“You got to give Central Arkansas a lot of credit,” UIW coach Carson Cunningham said. “They played really well. I thought they shared the ball quite nicely, moved it really well, and so we can learn a lot from them.

“We’re just going to have to keep working and not get too down. We’re just going to have to figure out a way … to become a more strategically sound basketball team.”

The Bears shot 55 percnt from the field and outscored the Cardinals 44-31 in the second half, turning a close game into a run-away. Late in the game, a short-handed UIW squad fell behind by 24 points.

“I just thought we finally wore ’em down,” Central Arkansas coach Russ Pennell said. “We got the ball inside a couple of times. We did get a couple of fast break baskets. And then our defense was solid.”

Records

Central Arkansas 8-10, 3-2
Incarnate Word 6-11, 1-3

Individuals for UIW

Augustine Ene, 18 points and 6 rebounds. Jordan Caruso, 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Also, 5 rebounds.


Central Arkansas center Hayden Koval, a 7-foot sophomore, gets a hand in a shooter’s face, forces a miss and then grabs a rebound Wednesday night against UIW.

Notable

In a UIW season marred with several injuries, freshman point guard Morgan Taylor is the latest casualty.

Taylor suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday at Sam Houston State. He sat out his first game of the season against Cental Arkansas as the Cardinals lost their eighth game out of their last 11.

Sophomore forward Christian Peevy, meanwhile, still hasn’t regained the form that produced games of 26, 32, 23 and 16 points before he broke his left hand at LSU. Since his return, he has scored 4, 0, 0 and 4.

Quotable

“I think Coach Cunningham’s going to do a great job,” UCA coach Russ Pennell said. “I think he’s got a plan. I think he knows right now he’s a little undermanned. I think he knows what he needs to do, and now it’s just a matter of going out and making it happen.”

Added Pennell, “We talked a little bit about that. I was in a similar situation five years ago, and we’re still building. You got to show the recruits and the fans what you’re going to do and what you’re going to be like.”


UIW freshman Antoine Smith, Jr., muscles for position on the offensive glass, gets a rebound and puts it back in the first half against Central Arkansas.

Resilience defines Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners

Steve Henson, UTSA beat Mid-American Christian 104-74 on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson has led UTSA into first place in Conference USA. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

In the first few years of the Steve Henson era at UTSA, one characteristic of his core group of players stands out above all the rest. It’s resilience. Physically, the Roadrunners won’t overwhelm anyone. But, like a wily boxer backed up on the ropes, they will deliver a devastating counter-punch when least expected.

Take, for instance, last year’s trip to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders thrashed the Roadrunners by 24 points and dropped them to 10-11 overall and 3-5 in Conference USA. But on the second stop on the trip, they somehow came up off the mat and delivered a few haymakers, winning 82-70 at UAB.

The rest is history, as the Roadrunners finished 20-15, including 11-7 in conference — the first 20-win season at UTSA in seven years. This season, it’s happened again. Starting the year without their best player, they plunged into their first few games and came up looking like Jerry Quarry against Muhammad Ali. They were 0-5 and reeling.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 70-67 on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson sat out the first three games this season to complete rehabilitation from a knee injury. He’s averaged 20.5 points since his return.

Undaunted, players on a trip to Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase talked among themselves and got some things straightened out. Since then, UTSA has ripped off a 10-2 record, including a seven-game winning streak and a school-record tying 4-0 start in conference.

Given all that, I talked to Coach Henson yesterday as he prepared his team for a return trip to Murfreesboro. I asked about his core group — Nick Allen, Giovanni De Nicolao, Byron Frohnen, Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace — and why he thinks those players are so resilient, so capable of handling adversity.

Here’s his response, in a Q&A format:

“A lot of factors there. It’s a very mature group. It’s a secure group. Got good leadership. And we’ve got so many guys whose only priority is finding a way to win. Doing whatever it takes to win. It’s a competitive, tough group. I’ve said it before. It’s not the type of group you’d literally want to get in an alley fight with. Basketball toughness, this group has it. They care about each other. There’s never been panic.

“This year, when we got off to a slow start, panic never set in. They knew we could right the ship. We just kept telling ’em, we have everything we need on this team to have a great year. And they believed that.

“Last year, you’re right on it. We lost a couple of games at home against teams that were not projected to be in the top half. We had an unbelievable stretch upcoming. Went to Middle Tennessee, and we were down 30 in that game. The next day, we had a great practice, a great film session.

“Pulled a few guys aside, the guys taking most of the shots. Jhivvan, Keaton and Deon (Lyle). Showed ’em their shots. Talked about getting better shots. Continuing to have that freedom, shooting it freely. Shooting it quickly. But let’s turn down a good shot for a great shot.”

Byron Frohnen. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 70-67 on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Junior Byron Frohnen doesn’t need many shots to be effective. He leads the Roadrunners in rebounding. – Photo by Joe Alexander

So, part of it is just being coachable?

“Probably more succinct than what I just said, but, yeah. Willingness and coachability. For sure. Our season did turn at UAB last year. It was one of our best games of the year offensively and defensively. It was huge, because we were coming back home to play Marshall and Western Kentucky. With UTEP looming. So, our backs were against the wall. And our guys responded very, very well.”

When you’re recruiting, how do you find players who have those qualities?

“It’s hard. You watch body language. You talk to coaches. We try to recruit from successful programs. Guys who are used to winning. There’s great value in that. A lot of coaches value that. Sometimes, there’s going to be some unknowns. You just try to do as much work as you can … You want guys that just love to play, guys that are hungry. Guys that care about their teammates.”

It sounds as if some of the players got together after the loss to South Dakota State earlier this season and talked it over.

“When your players take ownership of your program, you’ve got a much better chance of being successful. I mean, we want it. We know they want it. They know coaches want it. When it comes from them, it’s got much more weight. And it doesn’t have to be upperclassmen.

“You know, leadership can come from anyone. When it comes from the players, it means a lot. Not surprised that they were frustrated (on the trip to Florida). But they also know that we could turn it around. (That) there was no doubt. I keep talking abouut panic. But there was no doubt. They believed.”


Last Saturday, UTSA played its trademark tough defense in defeating North Texas, 76-74. With the performance, the Roadrunners snapped the Mean Green’s eight-game winnning streak and took over first place in the conference.

Seventh-ranked Kansas holds on to beat Texas, 80-78

Seventh-ranked Kansas held on for an 80-78 victory over the Texas Longhorns Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Longhorns had a chance to win on the last play, but Jase Febres missed a contested 3-point shot at the buzzer.

Late in the game, Kansas was up by 10 and was threatening to blow out Texas.

But the Longhorns retaliated, first with a Jaxson Hayes dunk on a lob and then a Kerwin Roach three.

After that, Febres started to hit from seemingly everywhere, raining three consecutive 3-pointers, with the last one tying the game, 73-73, with 2:15 left.

Trailing by two points at intermission, the Jayhawks came out firing in the second half, with Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes nailing threes back-to-back to fuel a 13-4 spree in the first four minutes.

Two more threes by Lagerald Vick boosted Kansas into a 51-44 lead with 15:54 left.

Texas never got closer than four in the next 10 minutes, with the Jayhawks moving in front by 10 twice, including 69-59 on a Dedric Lawson dunk at the 5:10 mark.

Records

Texas 10-7, 2-3
Kansas 15-2, 4-1

Individuals

Texas — Matt Coleman III, 16 points, 8 assists. Kerwin Roach II, 13 points. Dylan Osetkowski, 11 points, 9 rebouds. Off the bench, Jase Febres, 12 points. Courtney Ramey, 10.

Kansas — Lagerald Vick, 21 points, 5 threes. Marcus Garrett, career-hiigh 20 points, 3 assists, 3 steals. Dedric Lawson, 17 points, 8 rebounds.

Notable

The Longhorns have lost three straight in the Big 12 by a total of 11 points.

They lost by three at Oklahoma State, by six at home against eighth-ranked Texas Tech and now by two on the road at Kansas, one of the toughest places to play in the nation.

Texas freshman center Jaxson Hayes fouled out in 17 minutes. He finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds.

Quotable

“I thought our overall effort was very good most of the time. I thought, obviously, the way Kansas started the second half was big for them. And I told the guys at one point in a timeout, ‘We’ve got to make them miss, they aren’t going to miss on their own.’ And to our guys’ credit, we got down 10 (points) a couple of times and they fought to cut that lead down and bring us back. We were just a play away from being able to win tonight’s game.” — Texas coach Shaka Smart, in comments posted on the Kansas website

Syracuse knocks off top-ranked Duke, 95-91, in overtime

Guard Tyus Battle scored 32 points and forward Paschal Chukwu had four in the final 1:22 of overtime Monday as the Syracuse Orange stunned the No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils, 95-91, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“Feels great,” Battle told ESPN after the natonally-televised game from Durham, North Carolina. “Feels really good. Hopefully we can get it going.”

Playing without two starters for most of the game, the Blue Devils held the lead for most of the night but couldn’t hold on.

Battle played a major role in the upset, hitting 12 of 28 from the field, including a three pointer falling backwards down the stretch in regulation.

Two freshmen led the Blue Devils in scoring. Zion Williamson produced 35 points and 10 rebounds. RJ Barrett had 23 and 16 rebounds.

Duke and Syracuse went into overtime tied 85-85. Battle had a clean look on a three-pointer that hit the back iron at the buzzer.

For the Blue Devils, Williamson produced 34 points in regulation. Battle had 30 for the Orange.

Duke basketball officials announced before tipoff that freshman forward Cam Reddish would not play because of an illness.

Even as the Blue Devils jumped out to a 12-0 lead, more bad luck stalked the No. 1 team in the nation, as starting point guard Tre Jones suffered a injury to his right arm.

Jones did not return.

Records

Syracuse 12-5, 3-1
Duke 14-2, 3-1

Top-ranked Duke hosts Syracuse and No. 4 Virginia this week

There hasn’t been much change at the top of the Associated Press Top 25 poll recently, but the rankings among the elite could be in for a shakeup as marquee games loom in the coming days.

The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils, for instance, will host unranked Syracuse tonight and then will brace for a visit from undefeated and No. 4 Virginia on Saturday.

Virginia hosts ninth-ranked Virginia Tech on Tuesday before making the trek to Durham to face Duke this weekend.

For the fourth straight week, the top four in the rankings remained the same — Duke, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia — as the new poll came out Monday.

For the second week in a row, the top 10 stayed in the same order.

AP Top 25

1. Duke 14-1 ACC
2. Michigan 17-0 Big Ten
3. Tennessee 14-1 SEC
4. Virginia 15-0 ACC
5. Gonzaga 16-2 West Coast
6. Michigan State 15-2 Big Ten
7. Kansas 14-2 Big 12
8. Texas Tech 15-1 Big 12
9. Virginia Tech 14-1 ACC
10. Nevada 16-1 Mountain West
11. Florida State 13-3 ACC
12. Kentucky 12-3 SEC
13. North Carolina 12-4 ACC
14. Auburn 12-3 SEC
15. Marquette 14-3 Big East
16. Buffalo 15-1 Mid-American
17. North Carolina State 14-2 ACC
18. Ole Miss 13-2 SEC
19. Maryland 14-3 Big Ten
20. Oklahoma 13-3 Big 12
21. Houston 16-1 American
22. Villanova 13-4 Big East
23. Iowa 14-3 Big Ten
24. Mississippi State 12-3 SEC
25. Indiana 12-4 Big Ten

UTSA knocks off North Texas on Jackson’s spinning winner


UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson hits a wild shot for the game winner Saturday afternoon against North Texas as the Roadrunners take over first place in Conference USA.

As UTSA basketball coach Steve Henson concluded his post-game interview Saturday afternoon, someone told him that the Kansas City Chiefs were winning in their NFL playoff game against Indianapolis.

“Wow,” the Kansas native said, smiling as he stepped away from a gaggle or reporters. “The day just keeps getting better.”

As Henson kept walking, he kept talking.

“I got a Whataburger ticket in my pocket,” he added, still smiling.

And then he continued on, with his voice trailing off, trying to take in the feeling of being the coach of the first-place team in Conference USA.

UTSA took over the top spot in dramatic style, as guard Jhivvan Jackson sank a spinning, off-balance shot from 17 feet with 1.6 seconds left.

On the last play, North Texas executed a three-quarter, length-of-the-court pass to 6-10 center Zachary Simmons, who spun and hoisted a 16 footer that was off the mark as time expired.

After the miss, UTSA players charged off the bench to celebrate their seventh straight victory in front of an announced crowd of 1,192.

The win was sweet on a number of levels, but, most importantly, it lifted the Roadrunners into the top spot in the Conference USA standings.

So, how does it feel to be in first, coach?

“Got a nice ring to it,” Henson said. “Our guys are pretty excited. But we know we haven’t done enough yet. Really, we’re 4-0. We’ve played three home games. We’ve gone on the road and won once.

“If we’re going to do something special, we really have just gotten started.”

On the last offensive possession, the Roadrunners pitched the ball around a few times and then got it to Jackson in isolation against Jorden Duffy on the right side.

Jackson, one of the most electric offensive players in the conference, slipped when he first tried to make a move, and then he bobbled the ball.

Grabbing it out of the air, the sophomore executed a spin move toward the baseline and then calmly sank a one-hander from about 17 feet.

Replays showed Jackson’s teammate, Byron Frohnen, with a look of disbelief under the basket as the ball hit the bottom of the net.

“We just wanted to get him the ball,” Henson said. “He didn’t have a very good first half. He got a little frustrated. (He) thought he was getting fouled and didn’t deal with it very well.

“But (he’s) a competitive guy. We knew we wanted to get him the ball … with a chance to win it or go to overtime.

“(We) thought he might draw a foul. He didn’t. He almost lost his balance. Got it back, and did what great players do.”

Records

North Texas 16-2, 4-1
UTSA 10-7, 4-0


North Texas’ Jorden Duffy misses out of the corner. Zachary Simmons rebounds, and then Roosevelt Smart hits a three to tie with 50 seconds left. In the end, UTSA held on to snap the Mean Green’s eight-game winning streak.

Jackson: ‘I had to improvise’

When Jhivvan Jackson arrived at UTSA a few years ago, at least one pundit on social media compared him to former NBA star Allen Iverson.

Even though it’s hard to live up to that hype, Jackson can at least lay claim to one of the most remarkable clutch shots in recent school history.

“I tried to shoot a jab (step), but I slipped and had to improvise a little,” Jackson said. “It just went in. I think it was payback for that play I missed right before that.”

With the game tied 74-74, Jackson missed a jumper that was rebounded by Frohnen. UTSA promptly called time out with 13 seconds left to set up the last possession.

Jackson hit the shot, ending North Texas’ eight-game winning streak.

“Great game,” he said. “Practices have been helping us a lot. We’ve been really taking practice serious, and it’s been translating to the game.

“We played great defense on their point guard, (Ryan) Woolridge. Defensively, it was a great game. That’s what got us the win.”

Individuals

North Texas — Roosevelt Smart, 18 points, five three-pointers. Ryan Woolridge, 17 points, 9 rebounds. Jorden Duffy, 15 points. Zachary Simmoons, 12 points, 8 rebounds.

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson, 17 points, 6 of 18 shooting. Nick Allen, 16 points, 7 rebounds. Keaton Wallace, 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals. Giovanni De Nicolao, 10 points, 5 rebounds.

Taking control

Just as the Mean Green pulled to within three with 11:51 remaining on a driving layup by Smart, the Roadrunners answered with one of their best stretches of play this season, outscoring the visitors 20-13 over the next six minutes.

The Roadrunners started to attack the basket, play after play, either getting layups or free throws. UTSA hit four straight layups at one juncture and then De Nicolao buried a three from the corner. When Jackson hit a free throw with 5:29 to play, UTSA had hiked the lead to 67-57.

Mounting a comeback

Not to be outdone, North Texas constructed a 14-4 run that tied the game, 71-71, with 2:40 remaining. Smart capped the streak by nailing a three from the top of the circle.


UTSA guard Keaton Wallace buries a three-pointer out of the corner in the first half Saturday against North Texas.

First-half highlights

Freshman Adokiye Iyaye energized fans with a three-pointer on the last play of the first half, lifting the Roadrunners to a 33-27 lead.

At intermission, Allen led UTSA in scoring with 9 points, and Keaton Wallace and Iyaye had 7. Woolridge had 8 and Duffy 7 for North Texas.


UTSA freshman Adokiye Iyaye scores a layup on a back cut in the first half against the North Texas Mean Green.

Notebook

UTSA broke a four-game losing streak to North Texas in the series, which stretched back over the past three seasons. Meaning, it was the first win over the in-state rivals for the current coaching staff and its core of veteran players. The Roadrunners’ last win against the Mean Green came on March 7, 2015, in a 69-68 victory at UTSA.

Hype is building for North Texas-UTSA showdown

When UTSA basketball players ran through drills in practice on Friday afternoon, they’d look up to see a television camera in their face.

It was at least the second time this week that a local TV station dispatched a crew to cover a workout.

Not a game, mind you. A practice. And not in March, either. In the second week of January.

Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said he welcomes the attention.

“Hey that’s important for our program,” he said.

It’s not surprising that the Roadrunners are starting to attract notice.

After all, first place in Conference USA is on the line Saturday at 3 p.m. when the surging North Texas Mean Green pay a visit to the UTSA Convocation Center.

North Texas is 16-1 and is riding an eight-game winning streak. Perhaps more compelling, UTSA is 9-7 with six victories in a row, after starting the season at 0-5.

“It’s no secret we didn’t start the season real well,” Henson said. “Our schedule was tough early. We weren’t playing great. But now we are. Nine (wins) out of 11 (games). Six in a row. We hope there’s some buzz around the program.”

Having North Texas in the house on a Saturday afternoon certainly helps.

Games between the two squads are usually pretty intriguing, anyway, but this year it’s different.

This year, North Texas is 4-0 and sitting atop the C-USA standings, while UTSA trails in second at 3-0.

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said it would mean a lot on a number of levels to win and take over first place.

First, if the Roadrunners can win, they would tie a 30-year-old school record and would become only the second team in school history to open conference play at 4-0.

“That,” Wallace said, “would be big time.”

In addition, it would also feel good for players to beat an in-state rival that has won four in a row in the head-to-head series against the Roadrunners.

Last year, the Mean Green erased a 13-point deficit and beat the Roadrunners 72-71 at the Convocation Center.

Later, North Texas routed UTSA 80-62 at Denton, in the first game after Roadrunners guard Jhivvan Jackson was knocked out for the season with a knee injury.

The game in San Antonio stands out as the most emotional of the two.

At the end, with UTSA trailing by the eventual final score, UTSA’s Giovanni De Nicolao raced the length of the court on the dribble, stretched out for a layup in traffic and saw it skip off the rim.

“We know they got us last year,” Wallace said. “We expect them to come out hard and ready to play. We got to protect home court.”

Notable

Nick Allen hit career highs in both points (20) and three-pointers (four) against Rice Thursday night. De Nicolao’s 19 points were a season high. The Roadrunners hammered the Owls, 95-79, establishing team season highs in points, field goal percentage (49.3) and three-pointers made (12) against Division I competition.

North Texas survived a challenge from UTEP Thursday night in El Paso, winning 58-51. Redshirt freshman guard Umoja Gibson played well off the bench with 13 points and seven rebounds. Roosevelt Smart scored 13, Michael Miller had 11 and 6-foot-10 Zachary Simmons contributed 10 points and four rebounds.

Mama Mia! UTSA routs Rice, 95-79, for sixth straight victory

Junior guard Giovanni De Nicolao had 19 points and 7 assists in UTSA's 95-79 Conference USA victory over Rice on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Junior guard Giovanni De Nicolao broke out of a shooting slump by scoring a season-high 19 points, to go along with 7 assists, in a 16-point victory against Rice. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners cranked up a high-energy offense Thursday night, rolling past the Rice Owls, 95-79, for their sixth straight win.

UTSA’s winning streak is the team’s longest in three years under Coach Steve Henson and the longest overall since 2010-11, when the program last qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

In addition, the Roadrunners improved to 3-0 in conference for the first time since 1990-91, when they won the Trans America Athletic Conference regular-season crown.

Only one team in school history started 4-0, and it happened 30 years ago in 1988-89, also in the TAAC.

UTSA will try to match that start on Saturday night when it hosts the North Texas Mean Green in a game between in-state rivals, both undefeated in Conference USA.

North Texas improved to 16-1 and 4-0 in C-USA after winning 58-51 on the road at UTEP.

Against the Owls, Jhivvan Jackson led the Roadrunners with 24 points, and Nick Allen had 20. Giovanni De Nicolao produced 19, while Keaton Wallace had 16.

Allen and De Nicolao hit individual season highs in scoring on a night when the Roadrunners also notched the most points in a game this year against a Division I program.

Rice men's basketball coach Scott Perra. - photo by Joe Alexander

Rice coach Scott Pera. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the locker room afterward, Henson congratulated the players on reaching a goal of making fewer than 10 turnovers — they had eight.

But perhaps the story of the night indiviually was De Nicolao, a junior guard from Italy, who entered the game shooting 31 percent from the field and 10.9 percent (3 of 29) on three pointers.

“Finally,” De Nicolao said. “Lately I haven’t been shooting well. My three (point) percent is awful. Finally I got some shots (to go in).”

De Nicolao hit 7 of 13 from the field and 3 of 6 from long distance. On one of his threes in the second half, UTSA fans were chanting, “Mama Mia,” in a salute to his Italian heritage.

He also saw some fans giving him an Italian hand gesture, with the thumb pressed against fingers, which De Nicolao also enjoyed.

“I mean, everybody thinks it’s something in Italian,” he said, making the gesture for emphasis during his post-game interview with reporters. “This means, like, ‘What are you doing?’ in Italian. Like when you drive, and somebody cuts you off, it’s like, ‘What are you doing?’

“It doesn’t really mean anything. But everyone in America thinks it’s something. I don’t know. It’s fun. I like it.”

Records

UTSA 9-7, 3-0
Rice 7-10, 2-2


Giovanni De Nicolao and Keaton Wallace nail three-point baskets on consecutive possessions late in the first half.

First half

The Roadrunners unleashed a fast-paced offense and multiple shooters en route to a 46-37 lead at the intermission.

It was UTSA’s highest-scoring half since Dec. 17 when they hit for 56 against NAIA Bethany, Kansas.

De Nicolao had perhaps his best offensive half of the season with 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting, including 2-for-2 on three-pointers.

Allen also touched the ball frequently and scored 10, hitting 4 of 8 shots. Wallace added 10 and Jackson eight.

Rice leaders

Quentin Millora-Brown, 14 points, on 7 of 9 shooting, 9 rebounds. Chrs Mullins, 14 points. Ako Adams, 10. Trey Murphy III, 10.

Rice entered the game with some momentum, having won back-to-back games at home against Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech.

Notable

The record for the longest winning streak in school history? It’s 13 games, which was established in 1983-84, in the third year of the program.

Quotable

Asked whether UTSA could score 95 every night, Henson said, “Well, there were some reasons for it that I was excited about. The 95 points didn’t really mean anything. But the limited turnovers — we had been talking about that for weeks and weeks … We got a team that plays fast and aggressively, but that doesn’t mean we’ve got to turn the ball over. So, finally, tonight was the night (with eight, and 22 assists).”


UTSA sophomore Jhivvan Jackson, who entered the night as the second-leading scorer in C-USA, hits a jumper late in the second half over Rice big man Jack Williams. Jackson sank 9 of 23 from the field, 3 of 10 from three and 3 of 3 on free throws.

UTSA vs. Rice photo gallery

Jhivvan Jackson scored a team-high 24 points as UTSA beat Rice 95-79 on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored a team-high 24 points for the Roadrunners. – photo by Joe Alexander


UTSA beat Rice 95-79 on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Forward Nick Allen steps up on offense for streaking UTSA

Nick Allen. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 70-67 on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Nick Allen has averaged 11.2 points on 55 percent shooting in UTSA’s last five games.

Winners of five games in a row, the UTSA Roadrunners continue to tweak their offensive execution in hopes of getting more players involved, and senior forward Nick Allen has stepped up to answer the call.

Allen has averaged 11.2 points on 55 percent shooting during the streak, leading into tonight’s Conference USA home test against the Rice Owls.

Highlighting UTSA’s longest streak in seven years, Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace have led the way, playing at a high level almost every night.

But Allen, a senior from Arizona, has emerged as a third-option threat by knocking down 23 shots in 42 attempts combined against Bethany, Kansas; Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Southeastern Oklahoma State and UTEP (twice).

It’s been a major change in the offense from earlier in the season when, at times, the Roadrunners seemed to rely too much on their two standouts.

“That goes back to our attention to detail, executing on the offensive side,” Allen said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, this is what we’re looking for.’ You know, it’s like, ‘You got to run the plays correctly.’ And if you run them correctly, there’s a lot of options to score.”

Coming off two victories over the Miners to open conference play, UTSA continued work earlier this week on the offensive nitty gritty to prepare for home games tonight against Rice and Saturday against the North Texas Mean Green.

“We keep talking about getting sharper and getting better shots and limiting turnovers,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Coming off two games in conference where we had 10 one night and 12 the next, it’s closer. Single digits would be fantastic.

“We got to all be on the same page what a good possession looks like.

“With scorers like Jhivvan and Keaton, there (are) going to be a lot of quick shots. But we also need good possessions where we get the ball side to side, get paint touches. We needed to spend a lot of time on that (this week).”

In other words, the Roadrunners are trying to expand their repertoire of threats.

For UTSA to win consistently, the team surely will need more offense from Allen, Byron Frohnen, Giovanni De Nicolao — who all start — and also from bench players like Adokiye Iyaye and Atem Bior.

In Allen’s opinion, the Roadrunners at times this season have seemed “funneled in on one” option at times. Now, he said, it seems as if the offensive sets are producing much more variety.

“We kind of let the offense breathe a little bit,” Allen said. “It’s opening up a lot of stuff for a lot of people. It’s good. I think that’s where it’s coming from.”

Notable

Allen’s increased production on offense may be related to simple physics. The 6-8 forward said he has trimmed down to 227 pounds — about eight pounds under his opening-day weight.

“I started off the season right around 235 and shaved a couple of pounds off,” Allen said. “I feel a little bit better. It’s weird, you know, I didn’t think I would notice it as much.

“But after shaving a little weight, I feel a little bit more mobile. I can move a little bit better now.”