UAB rallies to oust UTSA from C-USA tournament, 85-76

The UTSA Roadrunners wanted to play all weekend in Frisco, if they could.

And, for most of the first half Thursday night, it looked as if they might have the right mojo to make a strong run in the Conference USA basketball tournament.

The UAB Blazers had other ideas.

Guard Zack Bryant produced 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the fifth-seeded Blazers, down by seven at intermission, rallied to eliminate the No. 4 Roadrunners, 85-76, in the tournament quarterfinals.

Steve Henson. Old Dominion beat UTSA 65-64 on Thursday night in a Conference USA game at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson – File photo by Joe Alexander

Coming on strong late in the game played at The Star in Frisco, the Blazers shot 50 percent from the field and hit six three-point shots in the second half.

As a result, UAB will advance to take on the top-seeded Old Dominion Monarchs in Friday’s semifinals.

Jhivvan Jackson led the Roadrunners with 35 points on 9 of 24 shooting from the field. Keaton Wallace shot 5 of 14 from the floor and finished with 12 points.

Jackson left the game for a few minutes early in the second half after turning his ankle. It was a key sequence for the Roadrunners, who lost the lead and never recovered.

UAB held UTSA to 11 of 33 shooting from the floor after intermission.

First-half recap

Jackson came out firing in his first C-USA tournament game.

The 6-foot guard from Puerto Rico scored 21 points in the first half as the Roadrunners built a 42-35 lead.

Trailing by 12 points early and by 11 on a few more occasions, the Blazers rallied with a Tyreek Scott-Grayson-fueled 6-0 run in the last few minutes.

Scott-Grayson hit two shots in the run. UTSA answered with a Giovanni De Nicolao layup with 29 seconds to account for the final points in the half.

Records

UAB 20-13
UTSA 17-15

Coming up

It’s possible that UTSA could get a bid to either the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. But UTSA coach Steve Henson didn’t say for certain that the team would play again this season. As for the Blazers, they’ll face the Monarchs in Friday’s C-USA semifinals. Old Dominion escaped Louisiana Tech, 57-56, on a three in the final seconds by point guard Ahmad Caver.

Notable

UTSA was limited at the outset with Nick Allen trying to play on a fractured toe. But things got worse as the game went on, with Atem Bior getting in early foul trouble and then Byron Frohnen and Adrian Rodriguez suffering minor injuries in the second half. Taking advantage in the paint, UAB outrebounded UTSA, 42-30, including 17-9 on the offensive glass.

Quotable

“They just exerted their will and just crushed us on the glass (in) both halves. Drove it at us. Drove it at us. Drove it at us. And they mixed in some threes … Just overpowered us. You know, rebounding, driving at us and getting to the free-throw line … They dictated everything in the secod half in terms of physicality.’ — UTSA coach Steve Henson

Jackson, Wallace named to all-Conference USA squads

UTSA sophomores Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace both have been named to all-Conference USA teams, with Jackson taking home first-team honors.

Wallace was listed as a second-team selection.

Old Dominion swept the top honors with guard guard B.J. Stith getting player of the year and Jeff Jones coach of the year.

The C-USA tournament opens Wednesday in Frisco.

For the first time in six years in the conference, UTSA has earned a first-round tournament bye, and, as a No. 4 seed, will open play Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against either UAB or Middle Tennessee.

All-Conference USA basketball
First team
Jon Elmore, Marshall, Sr., G, 6-3, 185, Charleston, West Virginia
Ahmad Caver, Old Dominion, Sr., G, 6-2, 170, Atlanta, Georgia
B.J. Stith, Old Dominion, Sr., G, 6-5, 215, Lawrenceville, Virginia
Jhivvan Jackson, UTSA, So., G, 6-0, 160, Bayamรณn, Puerto Rico
Charles Bassey, WKU, Fr., C, 6-11, 245, Lagos, Nigeria

Second team
Jon Davis, Charlotte, Sr., G, 6-2, 200, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Brian Beard Sr., FIU, Jr., G, 5-10, 180, Rancho Cucamonga, California
Cortez Edwards, Southern Miss, Sr., G, 6-2, 180, Kissimmee, Florida
Tyree Griffin, Southern Miss, R-Sr., G, 5-10, 175, New Orleans, Louisiana
Keaton Wallace, UTSA, So., G, 6-3, 175, Richardson, Texas

Third team
Anthony Adger, Florida Atlantic, Sr., G, 6-1, 170, Anderson, South Carolina
C.J. Burks, Marshall, Jr., G, 6-4, 195, Martinsburg, West Virginia
Antonio Green, Middle Tennessee, R-Jr., G, 6-2, 190, Tupelo, Mississippi
Ryan Woolridge, North Texas, Jr., G, 6-3, 175, Mansfield, Texas
Zack Bryant, UAB, So., G, 6-2, 183, Hastings, Florida
Taveion Hollingsworth, WKU, So., G, 6-2, 165, Lexington, Kentucky

All-freshman team
Taevion Kinsey, Marshall, Fr., G, 6-5, 177, Columbus, Ohio
Umoja Gibson, North Texas, R-Fr., G, 6-1, 160, Waco, Texas
Chris Mullins, Rice, Fr., G, 6-3, 170, Grand Prairie, Texas
Efe Odigie, UTEP, Fr., F, 6-9, 280, Houston, Texas
Charles Bassey, WKU, Fr., C, 6-11, 245, Lagos, Nigeria

All-defensive team
Brian Beard Sr., FIU, Jr., G, 5-10, 180, Rancho Cucamonga, California Osasumwen Osaghae, FIU, Jr., F, 6-7, 250, Miami, Florida
Xavier Green, Old Dominion, So., G, 6-6, 200, Williamsburg, Virginia
Cortez Edwards, Southern Miss, Sr., G, 6-2, 180, Kissimmee, Florida
Charles Bassey, WKU, Fr., C, 6-11, 245, Lagos, Nigeria

UTSA to open tournament against either UAB or Middle Tennessee

The UTSA Roadrunners will open play in the C-USA Basketball Championships on Thursday night in Frisco against either the UAB Blazers or the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, according to the bracket released Saturday night.

The C-USA will host its event Wednesday through Saturday at The Star in Frisco, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

Top-seeded Old Dominion, No. 2 Western Kentucky, No. 3 Southern Miss and No. 4 UTSA all will get byes through Wednesday’s first round.

In Thursday’s quarterfinals in the top half of the bracket, Old Dominion will meet either eighth-seeded Louisiana Tech or No. 9 Florida Atlantic, and UTSA will matchup against the No. 5 Blazers or the 12-seeded Blue Raiders.

If the highest seeds win, Old Dominion and UTSA would play in the semifinals Friday at 12:30 p.m.. The championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Southern Miss routs UTSA, 81-48, in regular-season finale

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles knocked down 16 three pointers Saturday and blew out the UTSA Roadrunners 81-48 in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Playing at home in Reed Green Coliseum at Hattiesburg, Southern Miss held UTSA to 28.8 percent shooting in handing the Roadrunners their worst loss of the season.

Next stop for the Roadrunners is the Conference USA tournament in Frisco.

As the No. 4 seed, UTSA will get a first-round bye and will open play next Thursday at 6:30 p.m at The Ford Center.

Conference USA
Group 1 standings

Old Dominion 13-5, 23-8
Western Kentucky 11-7, 18-13
Southern Miss 11-7, 19-11
UTSA 11-7, 17-14
UAB 10-8, 18-13

Saturday’s scores

Southern Miss 81, UTSA 48
UAB 64, Old Dominion 50

Notable

Southern Miss held UTSA’s high-scoring duo of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace to a combined 12 points. Wallace scored seven points and Jackson five. The Eagles limited Wallace to 2 of 14 shooting and Jackson to 2 of 15.

Quotable

“Keaton and Jhivvan’s shots were straight-on. Most of ’em straight on, and short. Some of ’em good shots. Some of ’em not. They totally distort what we’re trying to do offensively every time. (Southern Miss coach) Doc (Sadler) does a great job with their switching. Switching and double teaming. You got to be able to find the open guy. They make you make plays.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

UTSA edges Western Kentucky, 81-76, in overtime

Jhivvan Jackson scored nine of his game-high 29 points in overtime Wednesday night, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners past Western Kentucky 81-76.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA came back from 18 points down to beat Old Dominion 74-73 Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson (File photo by Joe Alexander)

In the game played at Bowling Green, Kentucky, UTSA survived amidst 12 ties and nine lead changes, taking over second place in Conference USA and clinching a bye in next week’s conference tournament.

For the Roadrunners, Giovanni De Nicolao scored a surprising 17 on 7 of 10 shooting, while Keaton Wallace added 13.

Jackson, the leading scorer in Conference USA, hit 8 of 22 from the field and 4 of 10 from three.

Charles Bassey, a 6-foot-11 center who played two seasons at St. Anthony in San Antonio, led the Hilltoppers with 21 points. He also added 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

UTSA will close out C-USA regular-season competition Saturday on the road against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The C-USA will hold its tournament March 13-16 in Frisco.

Conference USA
Group 1 standings

Old Dominion 13-4, 23-7
UTSA 11-6, 17-13
Western Kentucky 11-7, 18-13
Southern Miss 10-7, 18-11
UAB 9-8, 17-13

Wednesday’s scores

UTSA 81, Western Kentucky 76, overtime
Southern Miss 59, Old Dominion 52

Notable

UTSA played shorthanded in the post against Western Kentucky. Starting forward Nick Allen, who has an injured toe on his right foot, didn’t play. In addition, Atem Bior fouled out and Adrian Rodriguez went to the bench in the second half with a bloody nose.

Quotable

‘The theme of the game was toughness. I thought our guys fought like crazy. I looked over and we’ve got guys jamming blood-sticks up their nose. (Trainer) Josh (Modica) was working on Adrian (Rodriguez), and Jhivvan needed some tape on his shoulder and Gio was cleaning his own bloody knee. We fought like crazy. I can’t say enough about those guys.’ – UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast.

Notable

With 20 seconds left in regulation, Jackson hit a long three to put UTSA up by one. Western Kentucky’s Lamonte Bearden had a chance to win it but missed the first of two free throws with six seconds left. Jackson, a 6-foot sophomore, scored nine of UTSA’s 13 points in overtime.

Quotable

‘We just got to give credit to Gio (De Nicolao) in the first half and our bigs. Our bigs played great (against Charles) Bassey. He’s tough to defend. We tried to limit the passes inside, just by really bothering the passes. We did that, and down t he stretch, we just got some stops.’ — UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson.

. .

UTSA’s Jackson works to get healthy for the UAB Blazers

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson spent most of Friday afternoon’s workout either going through skill drills and shooting, or toiling with strengthening exercises to rehabilitate a sore left shoulder.

Jhivvan Jackson. Old Dominion beat UTSA 65-64 on Thursday night in a Conference USA game at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson drives to the bucket against Old Dominion. – Photo by Joe Alexander

When the Roadrunners competed in sets involving scrimmaging and contact, Jackson did not participate.

It’s not a particularly good sign for the Roadrunners, who nevertheless are keeping a good thought that the right-handed Jackson can play against the UAB Blazers Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Asked about the status of Conference USA’s leading scorer for the UAB game, UTSA coach Steve Henson said he didn’t know for sure.

“You know, when we left last night, we felt pretty good about it. He woke up pretty sore today. Then we were concerned about it. But he did get some good treatment with (trainer) Josh (Modica),” the coach said.

Jackson hurt the shoulder mid-way through the second half of a Thursday night loss to Old Dominion.

After coming out of the game for a few minutes to stretch it out, he re-entered and played most of the last 10 minutes.

On Friday afternoon, Modica worked with Jackson off to the side for much of the 90-minute drill.

“Josh does a terrific job,” Henson said. “Twenty four hours from now, (Jhivvan)’ll feel a lot better and then Sunday at 2, he’ll feel close to normal. I liked the way he walked out of here today, so that was good.”

Forward Nick Allen isn’t worried about the matter.

“He’s good,” Allen said. “He’s just resting up that little shoulder. I think he bumped it or something last nght. He’s good to go. He’s ready. He’s always ready.”

Notable

Because the UAB game is the last one on UTSA’s home schedule this spring, the Roadrunners will honor seniors Allen and Toby Van Ry and both juniors Giovanni De Nicolao and Mitar Stanocevic, who are both graduating.

Even though Old Dominion has clinched the regular-season title, UTSA needs a victory to bolster its chances of gaining a first-round bye in the C-USA tournament.

UAB (17-12, 9-7) defeated UTSA (15-13, 9-6) on Jan. 19 in Birmingham.

The Blazers won by a score of 83-73 with a balanced attack that featured 53 percent shooting from the field and six players in double figures.

After playing the Blazers, the Roadrunners will take on Western Kentucky and Southern Miss on the road to complete the regular season.

C-USA Standings
Group 1

Old Dominion 23-6, 13-3
Western Kentucky 17-12, 10-6
Southern Miss 17-10, 9-6
UTSA 15-13, 9-6
UAB 17-12, 9-7

Old Dominion holds off UTSA, 65-64, to clinch C-USA title

Jhivvan Jackson, coming off the floor in pain in the second half, scored a team-high 21 points for UTSA on Thursday in a 65-64 loss to Old Dominion at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson, coming off the floor in pain in the second half, scored a team-high 21 points for UTSA on Thursday in a 65-64 loss to Old Dominion at the UTSA Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Old Dominion missed a free throw and left UTSA with an opportunity to tie the game in the final seconds Thursday night at the Convocation Center.

But the Roadrunners didn’t get the three-point shot they wanted, settling for a too-late-to-matter layup by Jhivvan Jackson with a second remaining.

After that, the Monarchs inbounded the ball, and the buzzer sounded on their 65-64 victory, which yielded both redemption and a Conference USA regular-season title.

A month ago, UTSA erased an 18-point deficit and stunned ODU, 74-73, one of the biggest collapses in NCAA history with less than five minutes remaining.

In the rematch, not only did the Monarchs make amends for their previous trip to San Antonio, they also won their first regular-season crown since 2010 when they were in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“This one feels good,” Old Dominion guard B.J. Stith said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

The Monarchs (23-6, 13-3) can rest a little more easily now, though, knowing that they have the No. 1 seed in the C-USA tournament locked up.

As for UTSA, much remains unsettled.

The Roadrunners (15-13, 9-6) will need to regroup quickly to clinch a top-four finish in standings and a first-round tournament bye.

Steve Henson. Old Dominion beat UTSA 65-64 on Thursday night in a Conference USA game at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson – Photo by Joe Alexander

In postgame interviews, Jackson said he slipped when he took a handoff from Keaton Wallace on the last possession.

“By the time I looked down, I was already past the three-point line,” he said. “I tried to get a foul at the layup but they weren’t calling it.”

UTSA coach Steve Henson didn’t know why the play didn’t result in a three-point shot attempt.

“I don’t know if we didn’t know the score or thought we had time for a quick two,” the coach said. “Obviously we didn’t have time for a quick two at that point.”

Records

Old Dominion 23-6, 13-3
UTSA 15-13, 9-6

Notable

Jackson, the leading scorer in the C-USA, suffered a left shoulder injury and had to come out with 12:38 remaining. After having it worked on by the training staff, he re-entered the game with 10 minutes left and sparked hope with a dramatic drive for a layup. But his night turned sour a few minutes later when he picked up his fourth foul and had to leave the floor again. He didn’t score again until he hit the last layup.

Quotable

Asked if coming out to have his shoulder checked broke his rhythm, Jackson said, “Yeah, in the moment, the game was really going good. We was getting stops. But, it’s all good, you know. I got back in the game and tried to do everything I could to help the team.”

Individuals

Od Dominion — B.J. Stith, 16 points and 12 rebounds. Ahmad Caver, 13 points and 10 assists. Xavier Green, 14 points.

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson, 21 points on 8 of 19 shooting, three assists. Keaton Wallace, 19 points, six rebounds.

Key Statistic

Old Dominion outrebounded UTSA, 43-29, including 15-4 on the offensive glass.

With these two teams, what else would you expect?

As soon as UTSA junior Giovanni De Nicolao released his shot from beyond halfcourt, it looked good. It was good. He swished it to stun the Monarchs, giving the Roadrunners a 34-32 lead at intermission.

Trailing early in the game, the Roadrunners rallied with defense and hustle plays. Here, freshman guard Adokiye Iyaye flies to the rim past a few Monarchs players who should have been blocking out.

Redshirt freshman center Adrian Rodriguez played well off the bench defensively after senior Nick Allen had to come out with his second foul. With Rodriguez in the game, UTSA stopped Old Dominion on several possessions in a row.

UTSA started slowly on offense, but guard Jackson picked it up with a difficult jump shot.

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson: We’re trying to finish first

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA came back from 18 points down to beat Old Dominion 74-73 Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson (right) leads Conference USA in scoring, averaging 22.8 points per game. Teammate Keaton Wallace is third at 21.2. – Photo by Joe Alexander

At last, bonus play in Conference USA starts tonight for the UTSA Roadrunners, as they prepare to host the Old Dominion Monarchs.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat Florida International 100-67 on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace leads the conference with 109 three-point baskets. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

After an unusually long stretch of 11 days off, UTSA scoring whiz Jhivvan Jackson said he thinks the Roadrunners (15-12, 9-5) are ready to play the Monarchs (22-6, 12-3) and embark on a four-game stretch to complete the regular season.

“We going to be sharp because coach has had us running, going up and down a lot in practice,” Jackson said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re just going to come out and play the same way we been playing, you know. Just get more stops and execute better on offense.”

Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, Southern Miss, UTSA and UAB were first through fifth, respectively, after the first 14 games of the regular season.

As such, they qualified for Group 1 of the bonus play format, which is designed to boost the conference’s postseason profile.

The five teams are playing each other in a battle for the regular-season title.

Also, the top four in Group 1 after bonus play qualify for a bye in the first round of the C-USA postseason tournament.

After last weekend’s opening round, ODU holds a commanding lead in the standings, followed by UTSA and then Western Kentucky, Old Dominion and UAB, with the last three deadlocked at 9-6.

“The season’s not done,” Jackson said. “You know, we’re not finished. We’re trying to get first, you know, and (to do) that we just got to win all four games.”

UTSA hosts UAB on Sunday before embarking on a road swing to Western Kentucky and Southern Miss to close out the regular season.

The UTSA-Old Dominion game has been discussed at length since the conference sorted out the Group 1 schedule on Feb. 13.

It’s a rematch of a Jan. 26 game in which UTSA executed a miracle comeback at the end to beat ODU, 74-73.

In the first game, the Roadrunners erased an 18-point deficit in the final 4:43 to win by one.

They hit seven three-pointers in a 25-6 run to the victory.

Keaton Wallace nailed the go-ahead shot on a three from the corner — while falling out of bounds — with 15 seconds left.

Old Dominion missed three shots on the final possession.

“Incredible comeback,” Jackson said. “It started off by us being together, by staying together. Staying positive.

“You know, we made that run by just getting stops. That’s what we’re emphasizing for the game (tonight.) Just getting stops, and the offense will come.”

The game features four players who are likely in contention for the C-USA’s Player of the Year award.

Guard B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver lead the Monarchs. Jackson and Wallace have paced the Roadrunners to four victories in which they have overcome double-digit deficits.

UTSA to host Old Dominion on Feb. 28 in bonus play

The UTSA Roadrunners will get an 11-day break before opening Conference USA bonus play on Feb. 28 at home against Old Dominion, according to the C-USA schedule.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m., with the game telecast on the CBS Sports Network.

UTSA, playing in Group 1 of the C-USA’s new scheduling format, also will host the UAB Blazers before going on the road to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

UTSA schedule

Feb. 28 — (1) Old Dominion at (4) UTSA, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

March 3 — (5) UAB at (4) UTSA, 3 p.m., CUSA TV

March 6 — (4) UTSA at (2) Western Kentucky, 6:30 p.m., beIN SPORTS

March 9 — (4) UTSA at (3) Southern Miss, 5 p.m., CUSA TV

C-USA Group 1

1) Old Dominion 11-3, 21-6

2) Western Kentucky 9-5, 16-11

3) Southern Miss 9-5, 17-9

4) UTSA 9-5, 15-12

5) UAB 8-6, 16-11

Notable

The Group 1 standings leader after bonus play is the C-USA regular-season champion. The top four teams after bonus play receive byes through the first round of the conference tournament.

UTSA versus the elite

Here is a recap of UTSA’s regular-season games against each of its four opponents in bonus play:

x-UAB 83, UTSA 73, at Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 19 โ€“ The Blazers took charge with 16-3 run to close the first half, followed by a 15-0 streak to open the second half

x-UTSA 74, Old Dominion 73, at San Antonio, Jan. 26 โ€“ The Roadrunners rocked the Bird Cage with a 25-6 run in the final 4:43 to erase an 18-point deficit.

x-Western Kentucky 96, UTSA 88, overtime, at Bowling Green Ky., Jan. 31 โ€“ Hilltoppers won in spite of 46 points from UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson.

x-Southern Miss 78, UTSA 71, at Hattiesburg, Miss., Feb. 14 โ€“ Cortez Edwards, Tyree Griffin and Leoard Harper-Baker combined for 56 points, leading the Golden Eagles on a comeback from an early 23-10 deficit.

Bracey scores 23 as Louisiana Tech knocks off UTSA, 72-67

DaQuan Bracey scored six of his game-high 23 points in the final 1:35 Saturday to lift the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to a 72-67 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

UTSA’s hopes of a regular-season title in Conference USA took a major hit, as the Roadrunners made too many mistakes down the stretch and hit only 5 of 29 for the game on three pointers.

Old Dominion leads the C-USA title chase at 11-3. Western Kentucky, Southern Miss and UTSA are 9-5. UAB and North Texas are 8-6.

Coming up

UTSA next will complete the regular season with four games in the C-USA’s new bonus play format.

Group 1 teams in bonus play will include No. 1 Old Dominion, followed by No. 2 Western Kentucky, No. 3 Southern Miss, No. 4 UTSA and No. 5 UAB.

Projected pairings

A C-USA spokesman said earlier this week that No. 4 would host Nos. 1 and 5 and play on the road against 2 and 3.

Which means, presumably, that UTSA will host Old Dominion and UAB and play on the road at Western Kentucky and Southern Miss.

Trying to hold on for the regular-season title, Old Dominion is expected to host Western Kentucky and Southern Miss and play on the road at UTSA and UAB.

The official pairings and schedule are expected to be released tonight.

Records

UTSA 15-12, 9-5
Louisiana Tech 17-10, 7-7