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 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.

UTSA plays at UTEP looking for a 2-0 series sweep

The surging UTSA Roadrunners will start a three-game Conference USA road swing Saturday night in El Paso against UTEP.

UTSA (13-11, 6-5) and UTEP (7-16, 2-9) will meet at the Haskins Center in a game that starts at 8 p.m. central time.

If the Roadrunners win, they would complete a two-game, regular-season sweep of the Miners for the first time in five seasons of UTSA’s membership in the C-USA.

UTSA beat UTEP 65-61 in San Antonio on Jan. 20.

A victory also would keep alive hopes for the Roadrunners to claim a top-four finish in the C-USA standings, which would be rewarded with a first-round bye in the postseason tournament.

Currently, Middle Tennessee leads the conference at 11-1, followed by Old Dominion and Western Kentucky at 9-2 and Marshall and North Texas at 7-4.

After winning three straight, UTSA is in sixth place at 6-5, while Louisiana Tech and Alabama-Birmingham are tied for seventh at 6-6.

Freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson has led the Roadrunners in wins over UAB, Marshall and Western Kentucky, averaging 23 points per game during the streak.

The Roadrunners play on the road next week at Old Dominion and Charlotte.

UTSA notes

UTEP swept two games against UTSA in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

UTSA split in each of the past two years, winning at home and losing on the road.

All time, UTSA is 4-10 overall against UTEP and 1-7 in El Paso.

The Roadrunners’ one and only victory over the Miners at the Haskins Center came on Nov. 11, 2011.

On that night, UTSA guard Michael Hale III produced 12 points, 3 assists and 3 steals as the Roadrunners won the season opener for both teams, 73-64.


Sophomore guard Giovanni De Nicolao drives and twists a reverse layup off the glass in UTSA’s 65-61 victory over UTEP on Jan. 20.

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.

Breaking it down: Western Kentucky at UTSA


UTSA players put up a few shots in advance of their game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Conference USA basketball

Western Kentucky (16-6, 8-1)
at
UTSA (12-11, 5-5)

Game time, 3:05 p.m.

Probable starters

UTSA
5 Giovanni De Nicolao G
2 Jhivvan Jackson G
35 George Willborn III G
3 Byron Frohnen G/F
25 Nick Allen F

Western Kentucky
1 Lamonte Bearden G
13 Taveion Hollingsworth G
15 Darius Thompson G
22 Dwight Coleby F
23 Justin Johnson F

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.

UTSA’s Wallace states case as a play-making guard


UTSA’s Keaton Wallace shakes a defender to hit an 18-footer on Jan. 20 against UTEP.

UTSA freshman Keaton Wallace says he knows what to expect from the Marshall Thundering Herd.

“They like to play fast,” Wallace said. “They shoot a lot of threes, throw a lot of lobs.”

On the flip side, the Marshall coaching staff might not know exactly what to expect from Wallace and the Roadrunners when they meet tonight at 7 at the Convocation Center.

Is UTSA still the team that rushes the ball up the court and then allows one of its freshmen sharpshooters – Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson — to fire away from long distance?

Or, has UTSA’s fun-and-gun offense now been modified?

It’s hard to tell, after Wallace passed for a team season-high of 11 assists last Saturday in an eye-opening, 82-70 victory at Alabama-Birmingham.

As a team, the Roadrunners probably have never looked better in recent years than they did at UAB, when a crisp offense notched 24 assists on 32 field goals.

Wallace said it’s definitely the way he’d like to see the team play as it battles through the last month of the Conference USA schedule.

“That’s Roadrunner basketball,” Wallace said. “Moving the ball. Making open shots. Making plays for other teammates. Getting them open.”

But with powerful Marshall and Western Kentucky coming into San Antonio this week, can the Roadrunners keep it going?

“I feel like we’re locked in,” Wallace said. “We’re ready to play. I feel like we’re doing better things. We’re improving. We’re making better reads on offense and playing harder on defense, making the job easier for us.”

It’s certainly making the job easier for UTSA coach Steve Henson, who had been sweating a string of poor performances, particularly some poor offensive performances.

UTSA never looked worse this season than it did last Thursday in a 75-51 loss at Middle Tennessee State.

The Conference USA-leading Blue Raiders toyed with the Roadrunners, holding them to 34 percent shooting.

On the UTSA bench, Henson watched with some anxiety at the poor shot selection. So much so, that he spent all day last Friday trying to figure it out.

“You know, we kind of got tricked earlier in the year,” the coach said. “We had so many guys feeling good early, had so many guys shooting it well. You know, we just had easy shots.

“As the season went on, certain guys (weren’t) shooting it as well now as we were earlier, which affects everybody else.

“Defenses were getting better. Scouting reports were more specific. And we just (weren’t) running good offense.”

Shooting only 30.2 percent from the field in C-USA play, Wallace took the message to heart.

He emerged at UAB as a player intent on finding shots for his teammates.

In the first half alone, he passed for five assists, with four of them leading to three-point baskets.

How effective was he?

When Wallace entered the game, the Roadrunners led 4-1. When Henson took him out near the end of the half, they were up 37-22.

In the second half, the former backcourt standout at Richardson High School notched six more assists, with four resulting in layups.

As the team boarded the bus, they packed a few statistical oddities.

Giovanni De Nicolao, UTSA’s starting point guard and most consistent playmaker, had hit four three-pointers.

Wallace had only four points, but he had the most assists he’s ever had in a game in his life.

“Like I said, coach emphasized that we got to drive the ball more,” he said. “In previous games I’d been taking a lot of threes. So, he emphasized (that). He believes that I can drive the ball, that there’s more to my game than just shooting.

“I was driving it (against the Blazers), making the defense collapse and kicking it to my teammates. They were knocking down shots. So, credit to them.”

Wallace’s smooth shooting stroke from November and December still hasn’t re-emerged. He was only 2 for 7 against UAB. He took only one three pointer and missed it.

Henson, however, has hardly lost confidence in him.

The coach is staying with a player who has proven he can make a positive impact, one way or the other.

“When he locks in on trying to make shots for others, that helps him,” Henson said after Tuesday’s workout at UTSA. “He’s not going to lose his shooting ability. It’ll be big time when he gets all that stuff packaged together.

“Yeah, he’s got the ability to do what he did (at Birmingham). He did it today (in practice). He was really aggressive driving it.”

Wallace said, in a sense, the shooting slump has had its benefits in that it has sparked him in trying to improve in other phases.

“It forces you to adjust,” he said. “It forces me to think different. It forces me to do different things on the court.

“As far as not scoring as many points as I did before, now I have to think about getting a few more assists, a few more rebounds, so we can win those games.”

So, as his game evolves and the team faces a critical phase of its schedule, does he now consider himself more of a pass-first guard?

“Um, no,” Wallace said. “I wouldn’t say more of a pass-first guard. I would just say, making plays. A play-making guard.”


Freshman Keaton Wallace buries a three on Dec. 31 against North Texas.

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.