Stephen F. Austin leads Incarnate Word 39-20 at halftime


SFA’s Aaron Augustin takes a charge to force a turnover late in the first half of Saturday’s game at UIW.

The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks forced 10 turnovers and held Incarnate Word to 22 percent shooting in running out to a 39-20 halftime lead.

Entering Saturday’s game at UIW, SFA was 21-5 and 10-3 in the Southland Conference. UIW was 5-18 and 0-13.

UIW center Konstantin Kulikof is not in uniform because of a compliance issue under review by the university, a school spokesman said.

Lamar hits 10 threes in 85-62 victory over Incarnate Word

Nick Garth came off the bench for 19 points Wednesday night as the Lamar Cardinals routed Incarnate Word 85-62 at Beaumont in Southland Conference men’s basketball.

Garth hit five of Lamar’s 10 three-pointers in handing UIW its 15th straight loss.

Shawn Johnson led UIW with 27 points and 7 assists.

Records

Incarnate Word 5-18, 0-13
Lamar 16-11, 8-6

Coming up

Stephen F. Austin at Incarnate Word, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Evans scores 26 as No. 7 Texas Tech beats Oklahoma, 88-78

Texas Tech’s best season in 13 years just got a little better.

Guard Keenan Evans scored 26 points Tuesday night as the seventh-ranked Red Raiders pulled away late to down No. 23 Oklahoma, 88-78, in a Big 12 game at Lubbock.

Alone in first place in the conference, the Red Raiders (22-4, 10-3) held OU freshman Trae Young to 19 points in running their winning streak to seven.

Texas Tech hasn’t won 22 games in a season since 2004-05, when the Bob Knight-coached Red Raiders finished 22-11.

Young entered the ESPN national-television game leading the nation in scoring (29.5) and assists (9.4).

In a strategy that proved effective, Tech employed traps with taller perimeter players in holding Young to 4 of 16 shooting.

Guarded alternately by Jarrett Culver, Zhaire Smith and Niem Stevenson, all of them with at least a three-inch height advantage, the Red Raiders hounded the 6-2 Young into an 0-for-9 night from 3-point range.

It was a eventful homecoming for Young, a Lubbock native whose father played for the Red Raiders.

Not only was the Tech defense all over him, so were the fans who booed and chanted.

“I get that everywhere I go,” Young told newsok.com. “Just because I’m back here in Lubbock, I didn’t think I was going to get a welcome-home type of feel.

“I wasn’t expecting anything different tonight.”

In the beginning, Oklahoma jumped out to an early five-point lead and hung on to lead by one at the half.

The Sooners (16-9, 6-7) continued to play well as a team and mustered a 64-63 lead with 8:51 remaining.

But the Red Raiders were too tough down the stretch.

After Evans drove for a dunk to give Tech an 81-74 lead, OU never got any closer.

Young even dribbled off his foot for a turnover on one possession.

Evans, a senior from Richardson, hit 9 of 15 shots from the field. He also tied a season high with 4 three-point buckets on 7 attempts.

Three other Texas Tech players reached double figures in scoring, including center Norense Odiase with 14. Smith scored 13 and Stevenson had 12 off the bench.

“We’re defending. We’re locking people down,” Odiase told lubbockonline.com. “We’re really harping on defense. … We’re tightening it up together in these last six to seven games. We’ve been playing on that end.”

Surging Texas A&M returns to the national rankings at No. 21

Texas A&M capped a successful week on the court with some bad news off the court on Sunday, followed on Monday with a return to the national rankings.

What?

Let’s start with the on-court success, two impressive wins in the Southeastern Conference.

First, A&M won on the road at top 10 Auburn and then returned home Saturday to club Kentucky.

On Sunday, the team acknowledged that guard J.J. Caldwell had been dismissed from the team and Jay Jay Chandler had been suspended indefinitely.

Newspapers in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio were reporting that the two had been arrested for marijuana possession.

Finally, on Monday, the AP poll was released.

Texas A&M had returned to the rankings (at No. 21) for the first time since last month during an 0-5 start to the SEC schedule.

Altogether, it looked as if A&M’s season was spinning out of control on Jan. 28, when the Aggies lost by 11 at Kansas in the SEC/Big 12 challenge.

At the time, A&M was 2-6 in the SEC and 2-7 in January.

Since then, the Aggies have whipped Arkansas, South Carolina, Auburn and Kentucky in succession.

A&M’s 85-74 home victory Saturday over Kentucky served as an exclamation point to the team’s return to form.

Freshman T.J. Starks scored 17 points and forward Rob Williams sparked a 59-44 second half with several dunks.

As far as the Aggies are concerned, they’re not satisfied with a .500 record in conference.

“Now we’re sitting at 6-6, but we still have a hole to dig out of,” A&M junior guard D.J. Hogg told reporters after the Kentucky game, according to the AP.

Starks, a freshman from Lancaster, averaged 20 points in the two victories.

AP Top 25
For Feb. 12

1. Virginia 23-2 ACC
2. Michigan State 24-3 Big Ten
3. Villanova 23-2 Big East
4. Xavier 23-3 Big East
5. Cincinnati 23-2 American
6. Purdue 23-4 Big Ten
7. Texas Tech 21-4 Big 12
8. Ohio State 22-5 Big Ten
9. Gonzaga 23-4 West Coast
10. Auburn 22-3 SEC
11. Clemson 20-4 ACC
12. Duke 20-5 ACC
13. Kansas 19-6 Big 12
14. North Carolina 19-7 ACC
15. Saint Mary’s 24-3 West Coast
16. Rhode Island 20-3 Atlantic 10
17. Arizona 20-6 Pac-12
18. Tennessee 18-6 SEC
19. Wichita State 19-5 American
20. West Virginia 18-7 Big 12
21. Texas A&M 17-8 SEC
22. Michigan 20-7 Big Ten
23. Oklahoma 16-8 Big 12
24. Nevada 21-5 Mountain West
25. Arizona State 19-6 Pac 12

Prince or frog? Texas Tech’s Beard wary of Big 12 hype

The Texas Tech basketball program on Sunday discovered yet another sign that the Red Raiders have joined the conversation as a dark horse candidate to play deep into March during the NCAA tournament.

In Jerry Palm’s latest projection for CBS Sports, the Big 12-leading Red Raiders are pegged as a No. 2 seed in the West region, headed for Dallas to play in the round of 64.

Of course, a month remains before Selection Sunday.

But both the experts and amateurs alike are busily trying to sort out what the bracket might look like.

In dissecting how the Big 12 teams will be slotted, Palm has projected the surprising Red Raiders (21-4, 9-3) as a No. 2 and Kansas (19-6, 8-4) as a No. 3.

West Virginia is pegged as a No. 5 seed and the Oklahoma Sooners, who will roll into Lubbock to play the Red Raiders Tuesday night, are a No. 6.

TCU is viewed as a No. 10, with Texas and Kansas State slotted precariously on the No. 12 line.

All very interesting, except Texas Tech coach Chris Beard isn’t buying any of it.

Beard has joked that, in the Big 12, you can be a prince one day and a frog the next.

“A two-game losing streak feels like your life is over,” he told reporters Saturday night.

Life is good at the moment for Beard, whose team has won six in a row.

In their latest statement, the Red Raiders went on the road and convincingly whipped the Kansas State Wildcats, 66-47, to gain sole possession of the conference lead.

Pressed on what he is telling his players now that they hold a one-game edge on defending champion Kansas, Beard said the message is simple.

Stay the course.

“I’m getting this question a lot,” Beard said. “I wish I had a better answer for you. I’m not trying to be like Debbie Downer.

“(With our team) … the next day is the most important. We’re just trying to win the next game on our schedule.”

UTSA beats UTEP for first win in El Paso since 2011

Forward Deon Lyle scored 18 points Saturday night, and UTSA held off the UTEP Miners, 63-59, for the program’s first victory in El Paso since 2011.

In a sloppy game with poor shooting by both teams, Lyle hit five 3-point baskets, allowing UTSA to sweep UTEP 2-0 for the first time in five seasons of Conference USA play.

The Roadrunners (14-11, 7-5) have won four straight and five of their last six to move into a tie for fifth in the C-USA.

Bewitched by 47 percent shooting from the free-throw line, the Miners (7-17, 2-10) lost their sixth in a row.

UTSA won in spite of shooting 39 percent from the field and 50 percent at the free-throw line (11 of 22).

“Coach said it was going to be ugly,” UTSA forward Nick Allen said on the team’s radio broadcast.

Added Allen: “It’s hard to come in here and win, you know, it’s a historical place, with a lot of pride.

“There’s a lot of support behind (the program).

“So, we knew it was going to be hard. We knew it was going to be chippy. But we got it done.”

Frustrating the home fans, UTEP hit only 18 of 50 from the field (for 36 percent) and 16 of 34 at the line.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said the Roadrunners “made it ugly” in the first half with their own lack of execution.

“A lot of stuff going on was our own fault,” the coach said. “(But) we kind of withstood it and responded well there at some point … and had a decent run.

“So many things to go back and look at. So many mistakes down the stretch (at the end of the game).

“Great learning opportunities. You know, we got some young guys out there and (we) made some mistakes, but it’s a lot better to learn from those when you win.”

The Roadrunners led by eight with 55 seconds left and nearly let the game get away from them.

After UTEP’s Isaiah Osborne made two free throws and missed a third with nine seconds left, the Miners had trimmed the lead to two.

Fortunately for UTSA, guard Giovanni De Nicolao put the game away with two free throws with five seconds remaining.

After De Nicolao made the first one, UTEP called time to try to ice him.

But after the break, the sophomore from Italy stepped up and hit the second one, as well, sealing the victory and improving UTSA’s record in C-USA road games to 3-2.

Forward Byron Frohnen produced 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Roadrunners. Allen had 9 points and 13 boards, as UTSA dominated on the glass, 48-35.

De Nicolao and Jhivvan Jackson had 10 points apiece. Jackson, the fifth leading freshman scorer in the nation, was held nine under his scoring average.

He hit 3 of 12 from the field, but Jackson also contributed nine rebounds and had a steal and a break-away layup that gave UTSA a 57-51 lead with 3:24 remaining.

For UTEP, center Matt Willms scored 12 and Paul Thomas and Kobe Magee, a freshman guard from Brandeis, both had 11.

Tennessee sweeps Kentucky for first time since 1999

Coach Rick Barnes on Tuesday took another major step toward leading the Tennessee Volunteers back to the upper echelon in the Southeastern Conference.

No. 15 Tennessee beat 24th-ranked Kentucky 61-59 on the road at famed Rupp Arena, completing the program’s first regular-season sweep of the Wildcats since 1999.

Sophomore Lamonte Turner scored 16 points and hit a decisive three-pointer with 28 seconds left for the Volunteers, now 18-5 and 8-3 in the SEC.

For the Wildcats, who fell to 17-7 and 6-5, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a shot over Kyle Alexander that gave Kentucky the lead in the last minute.

But Turner responded with a three and a 59-58 Tennessee advantage.

A steal and a dunk by Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield salted the game away.

“I tell coach all the time, put (Turner) in late in the game because I think he is the most clutch guy I’ve been around,” Schofield told the Tennessean newspaper. “He is a big-time shooter in my book.

“He puts the work in. … I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. He deserves everything he’s got.

“But the biggest thing is Tennessee beat Kentucky in Rupp tonight. That was our goal coming in here. We got it done.”

Barnes finished 15-19 and 16-16 in his first two years in Knoxville.

But in his third season, the former longtime coach of the Texas Longhorns has sparked the Vols’ roll into the upper tier of the conference.

Tennessee trails only Auburn (21-2, 9-1) in the SEC standings.

If the Vols keep winning, they would become the fourth program that Barnes has led into the NCAA tournament.

He’s done it previously at Providence, Clemson and Texas.

Barnes did the best work of his career in Austin, where he led the Longhorns to 16 NCAA tournaments in 17 years, including the 2003 Final Four.

Two teams from Cincinnati remain in top ten in AP poll

Xavier sharp-shooter Trevon Bluiett is averaging a team-high 19.2 points per game, while shooting 42.4 percent from three-point range.

For the third week in a row, two Cincinnati-based teams have been ranked among the top ten teams in the nation, according to the Associated Press Top 25 released on Monday.

This week, the Xavier Musketeers (21-3) and Cincinnati Bearcats (21-2) are ranked fifth and sixth.

On Jan. 22, the two schools hit the top ten together for the first time since 1958.

While Xavier plays in the Big East and Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference, the two share some commonalities.

Neither plays football at the Power Five level. Xavier doesn’t play football at all, having dropped the sport in 1973 because of cost concerns.

Cincinnati plays football at the FBS level in the American, which is considered a Group of Five conference along with Conference USA, the Sun Belt, the Mid-American and the Mountain West.

Both programs are well-funded and play in front of passionate fan bases.

Cincinnati is playing this season at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky, with the team set to return home to a refurbished Fifth Third Arena in 2018-19.

Fifth Third is slated to undergo an $87 million renovation, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Xavier plays at the 10,250-seat Cintas Center, which opened in 2000-01.

Both head coaches — Chis Mack at Xavier and Mick Cronin at Cincinnati — are well-respected nationally and paid in seven-figure salaries.

Last year, according to a USA Today survey, Cronin made $2.2 million. Mack made $1.4 million.

Cronin’s salary was listed 21st among coaches whose teams played in last year’s NCAA tournament. Mack’s was 33rd.

Passionate fan bases at both programs likely will feel some anxiety in March and April when jobs come open at schools playing in Power Five conferences.

Because Power Five schools bring in the most revenue in Division I, they’re always a threat to poach a coach from a top basketball program like Xavier or Cincinnati.

For the time being, though, fans of the Musketeers and Bearcats can sit back and enjoy some of the best basketball anywhere.

AP Top 25

1 Villanova 22-1 Big East
2 Virginia 22-1 ACC
3 Purdue 23-2 Big Ten
4 Michigan State 22-3 Big Ten
5 Xavier 21-3 Big East
6 Cincinnati 21-2 American
7 Texas Tech 19-4 Big 12
8 Auburn 21-2 SEC
9 Duke 19-4 ACC
10 Kansas 18-5 Big 12
11 Saint Mary’s 23-2 West Coast
12 Gonzaga 21-4 West Coast
13 Arizona 19-5 Pac-12
14 Ohio State 20-5 Big Ten
15 Tennessee 17-5 SEC
16 Clemson 19-4 ACC
17 Oklahoma 16-6 Big 12
18 Rhode Island 19-3 Atlantic 10
19 West Virginia 17-6 Big 12
20 Michigan 19-6 Big Ten
21 North Carolina 17-7 ACC
22 Wichita State 17-5 American
23 Nevada 20-4 Mountain West
24 Kentucky 17-6 SEC
25 Miami 17-5 ACC

UTSA rolls past second-place Western Kentucky, 74-63


UTSA forward Nick Allen hits a jumper off the baseline late in the game, courtesy of a drive into the paint and a slick pass from point guard Giovanni De Nicolao.

The UTSA Roadunners on Saturday soared to their third straight victory over a top-tier team in Conference USA, taking down the second-place Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 74-63, in front of 1,305 fans at the Convocation Center.

Freshman Jhivvan Jackson scored 22 points to lead the Roadrunners.

UTSA (13-11, 6-5) held Western Kentucky (16-7, 8-2) to 36.1 percent shooting, the worst shooting effort of the year for the Hilltoppers, who had won nine of their last 10.

Only nine days ago, the Roadrunners were blown out 75-51 on the road at first-place Middle Tennessee. It was their fourth loss in five games.

But since then, UTSA notched a victory at Alabama-Birmingham and followed at home this week with wins against Marshall and Western Kentucky.

Those teams are the fourth-, fifth- and second-place teams in the conference, respectively.

To view the upset in another context, Western Kentucky was 46th in the Ratings Percentage Index leading into the game. UTSA was 214th.

“Just shows that we can compete with anyone in this league,” Roadrunners forward Byron Frohnen said.


UTSA forward Byron Frohnen hits a follow shot off a miss from Toby Van Ry in the first half. Frohnen and Keaton Wallace led a UTSA rebounding onslaught with eight boards apiece.

Jackson scored 15 points and UTSA held Western Kentucky to 22.6 percent shooting in taking a 37-25 lead on the Hilltoppers at halftime.

In one of their best halves of the season, the Roadrunners alternated between man and zone defenses and limited the visitors to 7 of 31 shooting from the field.

Western Kentucky entered the game shooting 49.4 percent from the field in 22 games and 48.5 percent in nine conference games.


Emblematic of UTSA’s defensive prowess, Van Ry and guard George Willborn III (35) combine forces to protect the front of the rim on a Western Kentucky possession early in the first half.

Celebrating a victory

After the game, the worst kept secret of the day was confirmed, that UTSA players celebrated in the dressing room and that coach Steve Henson got right in the middle of it.

“Yeah, we had a little celebration,” Frohnen said. “It’s always good to get a big win, especially against one of the best teams in the conference. That just shows that we can compete with anyone in this league.”

From the outset, the Roadrunners just seemed to bring more energy than the Hilltoppers.

“We came out to play and they came out kind of asleep, to be honest,” Frohnen said. “So, definitely, getting on their backs right out of the gate was huge momentum for us.”

In 2015-16, the UTSA program had hit bottom with a 5-27 record, leading to the dismissal of the coaching staff and the hiring of Henson.

In the coach’s first year, the team was better, finishing 14-19 and 8-10 in the conference.

UTSA even won a game at the C-USA tournament, downing Western Kentucky before getting ousted by Middle Tennessee in the quarterfinals.

But over the last few weeks, it feels as if the entire program has executed another positive step forward.

“Our guys have practiced so well for three weeks in a row,” Henson said. “To see the progress and get the results, because of the practices, is what you want.

“The guys are figuring some things out. I think we’re getting better, which is very important at this point of the season, especially with young guys.

“You know, freshmen are sometimes hitting the wall. I don’t think our freshmen are doing that. They’re getting better every day. We’re in a good spot right now.”


UTSA freshman Jhivvan takes off on the dribble and passes to Deon Lyle for a layup in the first half.

Freshmen on the rise

Jackson and Wallace, arguably two of the best freshmen in school history, are both hitting their stride.

Jackson has scored 24, 23 and 22 points in his last three games, respectively.

Wallace had a career-high with 11 assists at UAB, and he has followed with double figures in scoring in each of the past two games.

Against Western Kentucky, he produced 11 points, a career-high eight rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Improving UTSA set to host powerful Western Kentucky


UTSA freshman Jhivvan Jackson is greeted with a hug from athletic director Lisa Campos after an 81-77 home victory Thursday over Marshall.

UTSA will have a fourth-straight opportunity to knock off an upper-echelon team in Conference USA with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in town for a 3 p.m. game Saturday at the Convocation Center.

Already, UTSA has won two of three in perhaps the toughest two-week stretch of its schedule.

Last week, the Roadrunners traveled to Middle Tennessee and got hammered, 75-51, by the C-USA’s first-place team.

Two nights later, they played perhaps their best game of the season in an 82-70 victory at Alabama-Birmingham.

The Roadrunners followed it up with an 81-77 victory Thursday night over the Marshall Thundering Herd, improving to 12-11 overall and 5-5 in conference.

“It just tells us we can come out here and beat anybody,” said UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson, the Roadrunners’ leading scorer.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said second-place Western Kentucky (16-6, 8-1) will be a different challenge than the Herd, who rely on a perimeter shooting attack.

Defending the Hilltoppers will be “a different deal altogether,” he said. “It’ll be a totally different feel. (With) two big guys, they’ll pound that ball inside and be physical.”

Western Kentucky has a balanced attack with two guards and two forwards all averaging in double figures.

But Henson knows UTSA will need to be prepared for the Hilltoppers’ big men, namely Justin Johnson (6-7, 245 pounds) and Kansas transfer Dwight Coleby (6-9, 245).

Defending the post

“Tonight we didn’t have to guard one post up,” Henson said Thursday night. “I take that back. (Marshall guard C.J.) Burks, (on the) first play, posted Jhivvan. But after that, there were no more post ups.

“Saturday there will be post up after post up (with) two of the biggest, strongest guys in the league down their working. They’re good. They’re effective.

“We’ll have to have a little different game plan.”

The Hilltoppers have won nine of their last 10 after beating UTEP on the road Thursday night.

Against the Roadrunners, the Hilltoppers are looking for their sixth straight road win and their fifth straight in C-USA.

But in UTSA, Western Kentucky will encounter a team that is playing much better than it had been only a few weeks ago on the tail end of a 1-4 skid.

The Roadrunners’ home losses to North Texas, Florida International and Florida Atlantic, Henson said, were “very concerning.”

“Last week’s road trip, on paper, was the toughest in the league,” Henson said. “(Middle Tennessee and UAB) those are two good teams.

“The two teams we got in here this week are good teams — top level.

“So, to get a win at UAB was fantastic. To protect home court against another top team (Marshall), those are terrific wins at this point in the season.”

Revamping its style

UTSA has revamped its style in a number of ways since the losing streak, primarily with a change in roles for the dynamic freshman duo of Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

Jackson, who played off the bench through the loss to Florida Atlantic, has started the last four games.

Wallace, a starter through the FAU loss, has been coming off the bench in the last four.

In the wake of the switch, Jackson continues to play at a high level.

He has led UTSA in scoring with 24 points at UAB and with 23 against Marshall.

Wallace has also been effective, passing for a team season-high of 11 assists at UAB.

He sparked the UTSA bench against Marshall with 12 points and five rebounds.

Point guard Giovanni De Nicolao hit four three-point shots in the win at UAB and then followed with another solid outing against Marshall, supplying clutch plays down the stretch.

On paper, it’s a modest win streak.

But two in a row against UAB and Marshall after the earlier struggles is a positive sign for the future.

“(It’s) a real credit to our guys,” Henson said. “You know, the home losses against mid-level teams didn’t discourage us. Didn’t set us back any. We just kept getting better.”


Western Kentucky guard Josh Anderson throws down a monster dunk during a Jan. 27 home game against Marshall.