UTSA set to open three-game Costa Rica exhibition series


Still recovering from a knee injury, UTSA star Jhivvan Jackson (2) is running and practicing with the team this summer but won’t play in the team’s three-game series in Costa Rica.

The UTSA men’s basketball team is set to open on Monday a three-game series of exhibitions in Costa Rica.

Third-year Roadrunners coach Steve Henson put the team through 10 workouts in San Antonio leading into the trip.

The coach will have 10 players available, including forward Adrian Rodriguez, who sat out last season after injurying his knee in the regular-season opener.

In addition, newcomers Tamir Bynum, Adokiye Iyaye, Atem Bior and Knox Hellums will see action for the first time.

“The basketball portion is an opportunity for the new guys to get meshed into the system with the returners,” Henson said in an interview on campus last week. “The) things we’re doing now are things that will take quite a bit of time to do when the official season starts.

“So, we’re getting some that stuff out of the way now. Help them create that comfort level.”

Key players from last year, including Giovanni De Nicolao, Keaton Wallace and Nick Allen, are set to play.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson (knee) and forward Byron Frohnen (hand/wrist) won’t play.

Jackson, the leading scorer for a 20-15 team last year, is hopeful of returning to play some time around the start of the season after undergoing surgery last spring.

He has been running and shooting but hasn’t been cleared yet for contact.

“I feel great,” Jackson said last week. “You know, I’m getting better every day. I’m starting to do all the drills except the physical (contact).

“When we get back from Costa Rica, I’m going to get the knee brace. Then, most likely, two weeks after the knee brace, close to a month, I’m going to be able to do the physical (contact in practice).”

Costa Rica exhibitions

Monday — UTSA vs. University of Calgary
Tuesday — UTSA vs. University of Calgary
Wednesday –UTSA vs. U21 Costa Rica national team

UTSA roster

Jhivvan Jackson, sophomore, guard, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Byron Frohnen, junior, forward, Las Vegas
Tamir Bynum, freshman, guard, Houston
Giovanni De Nicolao, junior, guard, Padua, Italy
Mitar Stanojevic, junior, forward, Serbia
Adokiye Ayaye, freshman, guard, Oklahoma City
Adrian Rodriguez, redshirt freshman, forward, Tulsa
Knox Hellums, junior, guard, Tomball/Pepperdine
Keaton Wallace, sophomore, guard, Dallas
Atem Bior, junior, forward, Brisbane, Australia
Nick Allen, senior, forward, Surprise, Arizoona
Toby Van Ry, senior, forward, Fort Collins, Colorado

Notable

UTSA finished 20-15 last season, including 11-7 and fifth place in Conference USA. The Roadrunners reached the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. It was UTSA’s first 20-win season since the 2010-11 squad finished 20-14. Forward Deon Lyle and George Willborn III, who had eligibility remaining, are no longer with the team.

Quotable

“To be honest, we as a team, got really high expectations for ourselves. The main goal is to win the conference and go to the (NCAA) tournament … We got new guys coming in to help us get there and give us energy.” — UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson

Knee injury to sideline UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson for the season

The season for record-setting UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson has come to an end.

“Unfortunately, Jhivvan suffered a knee injury that will require surgery,” coach Steve Henson said in a news release. “This is a season-ending injury.

“Jhivvan was having a terrific season for us. We have a fantastic team of athletic trainers and doctors who will take great care of him.”

Photo caption: UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson (left) poses after a team practice with his grandfather, Flor Melendez, a former Puerto Rico national team coach.

Leading a hoops resurgence

Jackson suffered the injury in the opening minutes of UTSA’s last game on Saturday night, a 74-64 home victory over Louisiana Tech.

The 6-0 guard from Puerto Rico had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam on Monday, and UTSA released the results Tuesday morning.

In 29 games, Jackson led UTSA to a 17-12 record, the most wins in a season for the Roadrunners in six years.

He also set the UTSA freshman scoring record with 534 points.

His effort surpassed the previous mark of 483 established 19 years ago by former Spurs player Devin Brown.

Brown’s first year at UTSA out of West Campus High School was in 1998-99.

Jackson also made his mark nationally, averaging 18.4 points for he fifth highest average among freshmen in NCAA Division I.

Freshmen ranking ahead of Jackson in the latest Division I scoring list include Oklahoma’s Trae Young (28.3), Howard’s RJ Cole (23.6), Duke’s Marvin Bagley III (20.7) and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton (19.9).

Young leads all scorers in Division I.

Looking to the future

But in UTSA’s 97-85 loss at OU earlier this season, Jackson had 31 to Young’s 28.

“Jhivvan’s support from his family is terrific, and he has an extremely bright future with us,” Henson said.

UTSA closes out the regular season this week with road games at North Texas on Thursday and at Rice on Saturday.

The Conference USA tournament is scheduled March 7-10 in Frisco.

Jackson was born in Bayamon Puerto Rico, and played on three Puerto Rican junior national teams.

He moved to the Dallas area in middle school and attended Euless Trinity High School.

UTSA rallies to beat LA Tech, 74-64, after Jackson limps off


Known more for his jump shot, UTSA forward Deon Lyle weaves through traffic and double-clutches for a layup late in the game against Louisiana Tech.

UTSA shrugged off an injury to its leading scorer Saturday night and won its 17th game of the season, 74-64, over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Playing for most of the night without guard Jhivvan Jackson, who hurt his left knee early in the first half, the Roadrunners rallied with double-figure scoring from Deon Lyle, Giovanni De Nicolao, Keaton Wallace and Byron Frohnen.

“LA Tech’s a good team with a lot of good athletes, and they shoot the ball very, very well,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “We had to lock in and do it with our defense tonight. We did some good thing offensively, but I loved our fight and our effort on the defensive end.”

Lyle led the Roadrunners with 17 points and seven rebounds. He hit five 3-point baskets.

De Nicolao scored 11, including nine points in the final 5:28. Wallace contributed 10 points and eight assists, while Frohnen produced 10 points and nine rebounds.

Guard Jacobi Boykins scored 17, including a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs to within three with 3:42 left.

But Boykins was held without a point after that against UTSA’s stingy perimeter defense.

LA Tech forward Oliver Powell added 14 points and guard Exavian Christon came off the bench for 11.

With the win, the Roadrunners remained in fifth place in the Conference USA standings, one game out of fourth with two to play.

The top four in the C-USA get a bye through the first round of the tournament.

UTSA’s main concern looking forward is the status of Jackson, who is scheduled for an MRI early next week.

Diagnosis on Jackson termed ‘very concerning’

“It’s the type of play that looked bad,” Henson said. “The initial diagnosis is very concerning. We’ll just have to wait until we get more (information).”

Henson said he was proud of Jackson for displaying a positive attitude on the bench.

“It’s a very, very difficult thing,” the coach said. “The doctor told him it was serious. He could have sat over there and pouted but he stayed very involved.

“He was involved in the huddles. In the locker room at halftime, we could hear him talking to the players before we got in there.

“So, it’s hard to keep your head up in a situation like that. But he handled it very, very well.”


UTSA forward Nick Allen sees an opening on the baseline and takes it to the rim for a stuff against Louisiana Tech.

In the opening minutes of the game, Jackson appeared to be in good form. He hit two three pointers and was active defensively.

On the fateful play, he took off speeding down court on the dribble and drove hard, only to crumple to the court underneath the goal.

Staying on the floor until a trainer came out, the 6-foot guard from Puerto Rico was helped off without putting much weight on the leg.

Jackson was leading the team with an 18.9 average, the fifth best in the nation for freshmen.


UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao maneuvers into the lane and lofts a soft floater into the net for two points late.

Records

UTSA 17-12, 10-6
Louisiana Tech 16-14, 7-10

Seniors’ last hurrah

It was a sweet win for UTSA’s four outgoing seniors, Austin Karrer, Kendell Ramlal, James Ringholt and Kyle Massie, who waved to the crowd for the last time at the Convocation Center.

Karrer, from New Braunfels Canyon, had four points, three rebounds and an assist. Ramlal also scored four points, including a mighty, two-handed slam at the end for UTSA’s last field goal.

Karrer said he had “mixed emotions” playing for the last time at home, noting, “l love these guys. I’d spend four more years here if I had ’em.’ They all know that. They know I love ’em. I’d like to think they played a little harder for me. I’d like to think that, at least.”

Coming up

UTSA at North Texas, Thursday; UTSA at Rice, Saturday (end of regular season)

C-USA tournament, March 7-10, at Frisco

Jackson-led UTSA beats Charlotte in overtime, 97-89

Freshman Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points Saturday as the UTSA Roadrunners turned back the Charlotte 49ers, 97-89, in overtime.

In the game played at Charlotte, North Carolina, UTSA’s all-time freshman scoring leader reached the 30-point mark for the third time this season.

Jhivvan Jackson

He made 11 of 22 shots from the field and, for good measure, he also nailed 4 of 12 from three-point distance.

Freshman Keaton Wallace scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half for the Roadrunners, who barely escaped against the last-place team in Conference USA.

Charlotte has lost 12 straight. UTSA, meanwhile, bounced back from Thursday night’s 100-62 loss at Old Dominion.

The Roadrunners are 6-2 in their last eight.

Crunch time

With the game on the line, Jackson nailed two straight jumpers in the final 25 seconds of regulation.

After Jackson hit the first one, guard Andrien White completed a three-point play to give Charlotte an 84-82 lead.

With the clock ticking under 10 seconds, UTSA advanced the ball and found Jackson, who hit the tying shot with 2.9 ticks left.

Jon Davis missed the potential game winner off the front of the rim at the regulation buzzer.

Overtime heroics

Jackson scored seven points in the extra period to give him 30 for the game and 518 for the season.

Devin Brown held the UTSA freshman record of 483 points until Jackson surpassed it Thursday night at Old Dominion.

In the overtime against Charlotte, he showed that he can also do more than score.

The former three-time Puerto Rican junior national team member created opportunities for teammates.

Two of Jackson’s late drives to the bucket led directly to four points, on a layup and two free throws, by Byron Frohnen.

Records

UTSA 15-12, 8-6
Charlotte 5-20, 1-13

Quotable

“Exactly what I expected. I thought they’d be really, really good and that it’d be a fight the whole way, and it was. They have good players. They’re just a little snake-bitten. They can’t quite finish ’em right now. They have a couple of terrific guards. It was tough.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

Charlotte highlights

Junior guard Andrien White produced 25 points, six rebounds and four assists. Backcourt mate Jon Davis had 18 points and eight assists.

Coming up

Southern Miss at UTSA, 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22
Louisiana Tech at UTSA, 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24

UTSA’s Jackson ‘just trying to win as many games as possible’

The UTSA Roadrunners didn’t have much to celebrate in the wake of a 100-62 loss at Old Dominion on Thursday night.

It was the worst loss of the season for the Roadrunners.

Regardless, it’s worth noting that guard Jhivvan Jackson broke a 19-year-old school record for most points in a season by a freshman.

Jackson scored 22 against the Monarchs, hiking his season total to 488.

With his effort, the 6-foot Puerto Rico native surpassed the previous record of 483 points by Devin Brown, who did it in 1998-99.

Brown, from South San West Campus High School, went on to play in the NBA and claimed a championship ring with the Spurs.

Jackson was never aware that he ranked among the top freshmen scorers in the nation or that he could break the UTSA school record until it came up in media interviews last month.

At the time, he said, “It really just comes down to how much my teammates and my coaches trust me with the ball and give me the right to make plays. They trust me to do that.

“That’s really what I’m doing. Trying to win as many games as possible for this team. Just, making the right play and making everyone better.”

Jackson, averaging 18.8 points per game, ranks fifth among freshmen on the NCAA scoring list.

Ranking ahead of Jackson on the national list are Trae Young of Oklahoma (first overall in Division I at 29.1 ppg), Howard’s RJ Cole (24.3), Marvin Bagley III of Duke (21.2) and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton (19.7).

UTSA freshman scoring leaders

1. JHIVVAN JACKSON 2017-18 488 18.8
2. Devin Brown 1998-99 483 16.7
3. Jeromie Hill 2010-11 455 13.4
4. Devin Gibson 2007-08 396 14.1
5. Derrick Gervin 1982-83 347 13.9
6. KEATON WALLACE 2017-18 290 11.2
7. Byron Frohnen 2016-17 280 8.5
8. Giovanni De Nicolao 2016-17 272 8.2
9. Kurt Attaway 2003-04 245 7.4
10. McEverett Powers 1998-99 221 7.6

Winning record in sight

Despite the loss Thursday night, the Roadrunners still have plenty to play for.

They’ll take a 14-12 record and 7-6 mark in the C-USA into a road test Saturday night at Charlotte, the first of five games remaining on the regular-season schedule.

If they can win at least three down the stretch, they’d clinch their first winning record in six years, no matter what happens at the C-USA tournament.

The tournament is set for March 7-10 in Frisco.

UTSA records since 2011-12

2011-12 18-14, 10-6 Southland
2012-13 10-22, 3-14 WAC
2013-14 8-22, 4-12 C-USA
2014-15 14-16, 8-10 C-USA
2015-16 5-27, 3-15 C-USA
2016-17 14-19, 8-10 C-USA

B.J. Stith scores 36 as Old Dominion throttles UTSA, 100-62

UTSA coach Steve Henson looks forward to playing at last-place Charlotte on Saturday night and trying to find a spark.

Trying to start a new winning streak. Trying anything to forget about Thursday night in Norfolk, Virginia.

After B.J. Stith and the Old Dominion Monarchs dominated in a 100-62 victory, Henson seemed to have a hard time shaking the feeling of his team’s worst loss of the season.

“We can’t let this destroy what we’ve done the last few weeks,” Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “We’ve been doing good things. We just got man-handled tonight.

“It was grown men just taking us to school. We didn’t have much response to it.”

Stith produced a career-high 36 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Monarchs, who won their fourth in a row.

In winning their eighth game out of nine, Old Dominion improved to 20-5 overall and 11-2 in Conference USA.

Winners of four straight coming in, UTSA fell to 14-12 and 7-6.

The 38-point margin of defeat eclipsed a 24-point loss that UTSA suffered at Middle Tennessee on Jan. 25 as the worst of the season.

Stith made an early statement, hitting a three-pointer 20 seconds into the game and then scoring 28 by halftime.

By that time, the Monarchs were in charge, 52-36.

“He was just fantastic in the first half,” Henson said. “He was pretty good overall. He just had a real good rhythm going and got hot and made threes. Got to the free-throw line. Did a little bit of everything.”

Jackson breaks UTSA freshman record

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson moved up to No. 1 in the UTSA record books for points scored by a freshman, surpassing Devin Brown.

Jackson pumped in 22, giving him 488 for the season.

Brown, who later played in the NBA and won a championship ring with the Spurs, scored 483 for the Roadrunners in 1998-99.

Around the C-USA

The struggling Charlotte 49ers fell to 5-19 overall and 1-12 in the conference after an 87-86 home loss to UTEP.

After Thursday’s games, Middle Tennessee leads the C-USA at 13-1, followed by Old Dominion and Western Kentucky at 13-2. Marshall is fourth at 9-4.

UTSA and North Texas are tied for fifth at 7-6, while Louisiana Tech and Alabama-Birmingham are next at 7-7.

After that, it’s Southern Miss (6-8), Florida International (5-8), Florida Atlantic (4-9), UTEP (3-10), Rice (2-11) and Charlotte (1-12).

Nearly tournament time

The top four teams in the standings get a first-round bye in the C-USA tournament, set for March 7-10 at Frisco. The top 12 teams qualify.

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.”

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.

Jackson scores 23 to lead UTSA past Marshall, 81-77


Guard Jhivvan Jackson out-races a defender en route to the game-clinching basket with 43 seconds left.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 23 points Thursday night, and the UTSA Roadrunners held off the Marshall Thundering Herd 81-77 at the Convocation Center.

The big play on the defensive end for UTSA came with less than a minute remaining courtesy of Giovanni De Nicolao.

Trailing by one, Marshall had the ball and a chance to take the lead.

De Nicolao had other ideas. He made a steal on the baseline, and UTSA advanced the ball quickly.

Jackson, on the dribble, out-raced a Marshall defender to the rim and scored a layup with 43 seconds left for an 80-77 UTSA lead.

Marshall’s C.J. Burks and Jon Elmore misfired on threes on the next two possessions to end the threat.

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace hit a free throw with a second left for the final point, as the Roadrunners won their second in a row and their third in four tries.

Consecutive victories over UAB and Marshall have boosted UTSA’s confidence leading into a Saturday home game against Western Kentucky.

“It just tells us we can come out here and beat anybody,” Jackson said. “We just got to keep playing the way we are, keep getting better on defense every day, and it just going to come out.”

Records:
UTSA 12-11, 5-5, T7 in C-USA
Marshall 14-8, 5-4, T5 in C-USA

UTSA did a good job in keeping Burks under control, but Elmore was hard to handle.

Elmore produced 23 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Herd. He hit five three-point buckets.

Burks, on the other hand, was held in check with 16 points. He made only six of 16 shots and misfired on all six three-point tries.

“They’re a really good offensive team,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there.”


UTSA forward Deon Lyle hits a three out of the corner late in the first half against Marshall.

Playing in El Paso, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers defeated the UTEP Miners, 72-60.

Justin Johnson, a 6-7, 245-pound forward, had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers improved to 16-6 and 8-1 in conference, a half game behind Middle Tennessee.

Jackson, Wallace lead UTSA past Alabama-Birmingham, 82-70

Jhivvan Jackson scored 24 points and Keaton Wallace passed for a season-high 11 assists Saturday night as UTSA posted a surprisingly easy 82-70 road victory at Alabama-Birmingham.

The Blazers entered the game 11-1 at home this season in Bartow Arena, having lost only to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

But the Roadrunners didn’t seem to flinch at history or anything else on a night when they tied a season-high with 15 three-pointers and registered 24 assists on 32 baskets.

UTSA (11-11, 4-5) also out-rebounded the bigger home team, 36-34. UAB (14-8, 5-4) didn’t play up to par in either half.

Left on their heels early by the Roadrunners’ ball movement, shooting and rebounding, the Blazers trailed 42-26 at intermission.

They closed to within eight once early in the second half but couldn’t sustain the momentum against a UTSA offense that continued to click.

“Proud of our guys,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “We needed a win. We needed to play like that, though. That’s the way you got to play.

“I hope people don’t look and say, ‘Well, we won because we made 15 three-pointers. I mean, certainly, that helped our cause. But they were better shots.”

Only two nights ago, UTSA’s offense had stagnated badly in a 75-51 loss at Middle Tennessee.

Even in a 65-61 home victory over UTEP last Saturday night, the ball didn’t always move as Henson wanted.

But UTSA had a good day of practice in Birmingham on Friday and came to the arena on game night with a positive outlook.

The Roadrunners got a steal off the opening tip and a layup by Jackson to set the tone.

“We were just active all game,”” Jackson said. “That really helped us. We played really good ‘D.’ We were patient on offense and we got the shot we wanted.”

It certainly aided the cause that most of the shots were going in.

The Roadrunners hit 48.5 percent from the field and 53.6 percent from long distance (15 of 28).


Fading away, Jackson hits a long three out of the corner against UAB.

UTSA had made 15 threes on three other occasions this year — at Tulsa, at home against NAIA Bethany, Kansas, and on the road at Nebraska.

Against UAB, Jackson, Giovanni De Nicolao and Deon Lyle all buried four. George Willborn III, Austin Karrer and Toby Van Ry all hit one apiece.

With the victory, UTSA moved into a four-way tie for seventh in the conference race.

Middle Tennessee is first at 8-1, followed by Old Dominion and Western Kentucky, both 7-1. Marshall is 5-3. Then, UAB and North Texas at 5-4. Followed by Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, UTSA and Florida Atlantic, all 4-5.

UTSA plays at home next week, hosting Marshall on Thursday and Western Kentucky on Saturday.