UTSA beats Southern Mississippi for its 16th victory

Nearly two years have passed since the UTSA men’s basketball program bottomed out with a 5-27 record.

Nick Allen was a part of that squad, and so he takes great pride in knowing that he has figured prominently in re-making a culture that prides itself on winning.

Allen produced a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night, and UTSA won its 16th game with a 64-56, grind-it-out victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at the Convocation Center.

The 6-8 junior from Arizona was beaming when a reporter asked about the atmosphere in the locker room.

“I think we’ve won six out of the last seven, so that’s huge,” Allen said. “The locker room culture has definitely changed. I was part of the team that didn’t do too hot two years ago.

“And, it’s crazy how much the culture’s changed. We want to win. It’s a lot (more fun). Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be here. So, it’s definitely nice.”

With the victory, UTSA improved to 16-12 overall and 9-6 in Conference USA. Southern Miss fell to 13-16 and 6-10.

The Roadrunners remain on pace for their best record since the basketball program transitioned out of the Southland Conference six years ago.

UTSA finished 18-14 and 10-6 in conference in 2011-12, its last year in the SLC.

The nine conference victories are the most for any UTSA team in the past five years, since it played one year in the Western Athletic Conference and the past four in the C-USA.

With three games left in the regular season, plus the C-USA tournament, the possibility of reaching 19 or even 20 victories in coach Steve Henson’s second year as coach seems to be a distinct possibility.

“We’re proud of our guys,” said Henson, who finished 14-19 last year. “(But) we’re not talking about a win total right now. We’re talking about what we’re still playing for.

“The results tonight put us back in the hunt for that No. 4 seed, which is huge in the conference tournament.”

After losing 84-79 to Old Dominion, fourth-place Marshall (19-9, 10-5) now leads fifth-place UTSA by only a game.

A tie for fourth would go to UTSA since it beat Marshall 81-77 in San Antonio on Feb. 1.

The top four seeds gain a bye through the first round in the 12-team C-USA tournament.

UTSA’s defense forces a Southern Miss turnover, leading to a layup on the other end, during a key sequence in the second half.

After leading by 22 early, UTSA ducked into the dressing room at intermission with only a 37-28 advantage.

Southern Miss played well in final eight minutes, out-scoring the home team, 19-6.

Guard Tyree Griffin led the charge with seven points. Guard Domini Magee also produced a key sequence with a layup, a steal and another layup.

At one point, the Roadrunners held a 31-9 advantage when forward Deon Lyle nailed a three with 8:19 remaining.

Nick Allen scores on a fast break layup on an assist from Keaton Wallace early in the first half.

Stat leaders

UTSA: Nick Allen (18 points on 8 of 13 shooting, 11 rebounds); Deon Lyle (14 points, including four 3-pointers); Jhivvan Jackson (10 points, seven rebounds); Keaton Wallace (10 points, four assists).

Southern Miss: Tyree Griffin (17 points, two 3-pointers, four assists); Cortez Edwards (12 points, seven rebounds). 2 of UTSA’s first 14 points.

Coming up

Saturday: Louisiana Tech at UTSA, 7 p.m., Southern Miss at UTEP.

Tournament time

March 7-10: C-USA tournament 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.


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


“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 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.”

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)
UTSA (12-11, 5-5)

Game time, 3:05 p.m.

Probable starters

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.”

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.