Pearson leads Texas State into the UTSA Convocation Center

Texas State guard Nijal Pearson drives around Rice’s Chris Mullins Wednesday night in San Marcos. — Courtesy photo by Brooke Adams

SAN MARCOS — Deep down inside, Texas State shooting guard Nijal Pearson always knew he could play at a high level in NCAA Division I basketball.

“I always figured it would come in due time,” the 6-foot-5 junior said Friday afternoon.

Even though Pearson didn’t have the total skill package at Beaumont Central High School, Texas State coach Danny Kaspar said he could see the potential.

“He’s like some of my players at Stephen F. Austin,” the coach said. “They weren’t recruited very hard, and the knock on them was, they were not great shooters.”

On the other hand, Kaspar said he always sees intangibles in some young men, particularly those who excel both in academics and athletics.

He said he tells them honestly that they will need to work on their offense.

“You just knew (Pearson) would do it,” Kaspar said. “He was in, I want to say, the top ten (academically) in his (high school graduating) class. He’s one of our best students here. So, he just competes in every way, shape or form. In the classroom. On the court.

“(He) is very much a competitor. You challenge him about getting in the gym and putting up 400 and 500 shots a day, and he responds.”

The work has paid off for Pearson, who leads the Bobcats in scoring at 21 points per game coming into a weekend road test against the UTSA Roadrunners.

Pearson has emerged as the story of the season so far for Texas State (6-1) as it prepares to play UTSA (2-5) on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

Tipoff is at 3 p.m.

The Bobcats have won four straight, including three last week at the Portland Classic in Oregon and again Wednesday night at home against Rice.

Pearson scored a career-high 33 in the finale against the Portland Pilots, and then added 25 for good measure in a 74-60 victory over the Owls.

“We’re just having fun playing together, sharing the ball and playing defense,” he said. “For the most part, we figured we were a pretty good team. We knew in the summer time. So, I wouldn’t say we are really high right now. Basically, we’re doing what we’re expected to do.”

Beating UTSA is important to Pearson, who is 0-2 in his career against the Roadrunners.

“It’s a rivalry game,” he said. “I’m excited about playing in it. I don’t think I’ve made my mark in a UTSA-Texas State game yet, so, I’m excited that I get a chance to do that tomorrow. I’m anxious to play.”

Last year’s loss still stings a bit, because UTSA rallied in the last 70 seconds to erase a nine-point deficit and win, 79-78.

Asked what he remembers about last year, he shrugged and said simply, just that the Bobcats lost.

Because of a lock-down defense yielding only 37 percent shooting per game, Texas State would seem to have a better chance this year against the Roadrunners, who have struggled some offensively.

Pearson’s offense, meanwhile, has been consistently good.

He is shooting 52.9 percent from the field, including 53.2 percent from the three-point line. On top of that, he’s averaging 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals.

Pearson is not the same player that shot 43 percent as a freshman and 39 percent as a sophomore.

“I work hard on my game,” he said. “I just kept working. I knew eventually it was going to happen. I just didn’t know when … But, I’m just staying with it. (I’m trying to) focus, letting the game come to me, having fun out there.”

UTSA’s Jackson has delivered ‘in a huge way’ since return

Guard Jhivvan Jackson said it feels “really good” to be back on the floor, playing in games again for the UTSA Roadrunners.

UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson shoots around before the Roadrunners' game against Oklahoma on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The sophomore guard has not played yet this season while he rehabs from an injury he suffered last season. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson shoots around before a
Nov. 12 home game against Oklahoma. – photo by Joe Alexander

Likewise, it feels good for the Roadrunners to see their leading scorer from a year ago rounding into form.

“He’s worked so hard,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Thursday afternoon. “He’s had such a good offseason in so many ways.”

The offseason, for Jackson, was both painful and grueling.

Knocked out at the end of last season with a left knee injury, he underwent anterior cruciate ligament surgery and spent months consumed with strength exercises, combined with basketball workouts.

Jackson sat out the first three games of the new season, but he has since returned to play the last four, averaging 15.5 points in 16.5 minutes off the bench in that span.

It’s hardly a coincidence that UTSA (2-5) has won two straight leading into a Saturday afternoon test at home against the Texas State Bobcats (6-1).

“We were struggling a little bit offensively,” Henson said. “So, it was nice to throw him into the mix. The guys are ready to embrace him in that regard, (and) he’s delivered in a huge way — basically, a point a minute.

“So, it’s pretty amazing to be out that long and step in and do what he’s doing.”

Jackson was cleared medically before UTSA’s three-games in three-days trip to Florida from Nov. 14-16 at the Gulf Coast Showcase.

Originally set to return in the first week of December, he said the doctor told him that he could play in the tournament if he felt he was ready.

Jackson said he had felt ready earlier than that but didn’t want to risk anything.

“I felt great before the first game I played,” he said. “For a couple of practices before that, I felt really great. I told the coach I was ready.”

In the early stages of his return, Jackson has been on a minutes restriction. It was 15 minutes for the three games in Florida and then 20 on Monday in an 86-82 victory at Houston Baptist.

Jackson said he’ll likely be limited to about 20 against Texas State, as well.

Regardless, he has looked good, scoring 21 points each of UTSA’s last two games.

Henson said Jackson’s defense sparked a 12-0 run that erased a six-point deficit late in the game at HBU.

“We got down, and we came out of a timeout, and he was the one that really set the tone defensively,” Henson said. “(He) picked up the ball, got a little ball pressure, ignited our defense.

“He’s a competitor. He’s tough. He’s quick. We count on him for scoring, but he can do other things, as well. Getting him back in there is helping us.”

Pearson scores 25 as Texas State knocks off Rice, 74-60

Junior guard Nijal Pearson hit five 3-point baskets en route to 25 points Wednesday night, pacing the Texas State Bobcats past the Rice Owls, 74-60, in San Marcos.

Texas State (6-1) has won four straight leading into a Saturday afternoon road game at UTSA.

In the game played at Strahan Arena, the Bobcats beat the Owls 40-30 on the boards and made 11 of 27 shots from beyond the arc.

Chris Mullins led the Owls (3-5) with 12 points and four steals.

Pearson, from Beaumont, will come into San Antonio leading Texas State in scoring at 21 points per game.

The 6-5 guard has scored a combined 58 points in his last two games, including 33 against in a 91-68 win at Portland on Saturday night in Oregon.

As a team, the Bobcats are limiting opponents to 57.7 points on 37 percent shooting.

Texas Southern upsets 18th-ranked Oregon, 89-84

Chalk up another victory over a power conference opponent for the Texas Southern Tigers.

Led by center Trayvon Reed’s 23 points, the Tigers downed the No. 18 Oregon Ducks, 89-84, late Monday night in Eugene.

“Trayvon did an excellent job,” Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones told the Associated Press. “It was his best game by far all year long. I thought he performed at a really good pace on both ends of the floor.

“Offensively, he was very effective, and he played with a lot of energy on the defensive end. I thought he had them uncomfortable at both.”

Houston-based Texas Southern (2-4) is no stranger to success.

Under former coach Mike Davis, the Tigers won six straight Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and qualified for four NCAA tournaments.

But this year, Texas Southern is winning in November against the name schools.

The Tigers opened the season with a three-point victory at Baylor. After the win at Oregon, it marked the first time since 2014-15 that they’ve won two games in a season against power programs.

Reed and guard John Jones, the coach’s son, led the way against the Ducks.

Battling against Oregon’s Bol Bol, Reed had his hands full, as the Ducks’ freshman produced 32 points and 11 rebounds.

But Reed held his own, connecting on 9-for-9 from the field — all on dunks. Jones hit four 3-point shots and scored 20.

Calling it a “big win,” coach Johnny Jones applauded the team effort.

“We played the 18th-ranked team in the country and a program that has been to the Final Four, and for us to leave here with a win speaks volumes as to how well these guys played tonight,” said Jones, who has coached previously at Memphis, North Texas and LSU.

Jackson, Frohnen score 21 as UTSA rallies past HBU, 86-82

Keaton Wallace. St. Edward's beat UTSA 77-76 in men's basketball on Wednesday night, Nov. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace drives on a defender in a Nov. 8 home game against St. Edward’s.

Jhivvan Jackson and Byron Frohnen scored 21 points apiece Monday night as UTSA rallied past Houston Baptist, 86-82.

Frohnen, a junior from Las Vegas, hit 10 of 12 shots from the floor, scored his career high and led the Roadrunners to their second straight victory.

Keaton Wallace had 20 points, eight rebounds and two steals for UTSA.

The game was played in Houston at Sharp Gym. Houston Baptist came in with confidence, having knocked off Wake Forest, 93-91, on the road last weekend.

Huskies guard Ian DuBose led the home team with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Benjamin Uloko had 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting off the bench, and 6-10 center Edward Hardt scored 13 for HBU.

In a game that went back and forth all night, the Huskies led by six with six minutes left but couldn’t hold on against the Roadrunners, who scored a dozen points in a row to take charge.


UTSA hit its season-high in scoring, while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. Frohnen scored 13 in the first half. Jackson, in his fourth game back since returning from a knee injury, was limited to 20 minutes. He scored 15 points in the second half. Jackson has scored 21 in back-to-back games. Wallace hit four three-pointers, giving him eight in his last two.


“A lot of these teams have to focus on these great shooters in Keaton and Jhivvan. That just opens up some lanes for me, and I took advantage of it tonight.” — Frohnen told the team’s radio broadcast on KTKR.


UTSA: 2-5
Houston Baptist: 2-3

Coming up

Texas State at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.

How it happened

Houston Baptist appeared to be on the verge of winning when Oliver Lynch-Daniels drove for a layup and a 72-66 lead for the Huskies with 5:45 left.

Not to be denied, the Roadrunners surged 12-0 over the next two minutes, with Jackson scoring the first eight in the run.

UTSA point guard Giovanni De Nicolao capped the streak when he sank a free throw for a 78-72 lead with 3:03 remaining.

At the end, DuBose drilled a three-pointer to pull the Huskies within two with 8 seconds left.

But Jackson was fouled on the inbounds, and he hit two free throws to account for the final points.

Texas moves up to No. 17 in AP Top 25; Texas Tech is 20th

The Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders have moved into the Associated Press Top 25 in college basketball for the first time this season, according to the poll released Monday.

Texas (5-1) is ranked 17th after knocking off North Carolina by three points last week in Las Vegas. The Longhorns let a 19-point lead slip away the following day in falling to Michigan State.

Texas Tech (6-0) climbed into the No. 20 position following double-digit victories in Kansas City over Southern Cal and Nebraska. The Red Raiders followed on Saturday night by routing Northern Colorado, 93-63, in Lubbock.

The TCU Horned Frogs had been ranked in the first three polls of the new season but fell into the ‘others receiving votes’ category following a 73-64 loss to Lipscomb, (Tenn.) of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

AP Top 25
Week 4
1. Gonzaga 6-0 West Coast
2. Kansas 5-0 Big 12
3. Duke 5-1 ACC
4. Virginia 6-0 ACC
5. Nevada 6-0 Mountain West
6. Tennessee 4-1 ACC
7. Michigan 6-0 Big Ten
8. Auburn 5-1 SEC
9. Michigan State 5-1 Big Ten
10. Kentucky 5-1 SEC
11. North Carolina 6-1 ACC
12. Kansas State 6-0 Big 12
13. Virginia Tech ACC 5-0
14. Iowa 5-0 Big Ten
15. Florida State 5-1 ACC
16. Ohio State 6-0 Big Ten
17. Texas 5-1 Big 12
18. Oregon 4-1 Pac 12
19. Purdue 5-1 Big Ten
20. Texas Tech 6-0 Big 12
21. Buffalo 5-0 Mid-American
22. Wisconsin 5-1 Big Ten
23. Villanova 5-2 Big East
24. Maryland 6-0 Big Ten
25. Mississippi State 4-1 SEC

Forward Rui Hachimura and Gonzaga leaped from third to No. 1 in the rankings after winning the Maui Invitational.

The Bulldogs capped the tournament with an 89-87 victory over previously top-ranked and undefeated Duke. In the new poll, Kansas of the Big 12 remained in second, while Duke tumbled to third.

Michigan State rallies past Texas, 78-68

Trailing by 19 points after nine minutes, the 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans settled down and then roared from behind to beat the Texas Longhorns 78-68 Friday to win the championship in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Guards Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston led the comeback with a remarkable perimeter shooting display.

Langford scored 29 points and Winston added 20 points and 10 assists.

Combined, the two hit nine three-point baskets. The Spartans (5-1) erased what had been a 25-6 deficit.

The Longhorns (5-1) shot 34.4 percent from the field a night after they hit 52 percent in upsetting the seventh-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.

UT guard Kerwin Roach II, who scored 32 on North Carolina, was held to 15 and 4 of 14 shooting. Forward Dylan Osetkowski and point guard Matt Coleman III had 13 points.

Freshman Jaxson Hayes produced 11.

Texas upsets seventh-ranked North Carolina, 92-89

Guard Kerwin Roach soared for slams. He glided inside for floaters. He sank rainbow jumpers.

He did a little bit of everything in scoring a career-high 32 points as the unranked Texas Longhorns stunned No. 7 North Carolina, 92-89, Thursday night in Las Vegas.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Longhorn nation,” Roach told the FoxSports1 television audience. “This is for ya’ll.”

In defeating one of the blue-blood programs in college basketball, the Longhorns offset a team rebounding disadvantage (43-32) with season-high shooting of 52.5 percent from the field.

Texas also forced 17 North Carolina turnovers and turned them into 31 points.

Several players had key roles, including Matt Coleman III, Dylan Osetkowski and Jaxson Hayes, but Roach served as the maestro in orchestrating the Longhorns’ biggest victory of the season.

Roach filled up the boxscore with seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.

Furthermore, he shot 12 of 15 from the field to meet the challenge of negating a standout performance by North Carolina freshman guard Coby White, who scored 33.

North Carolina charged to a 17-4 lead, but Texas would not back down.

“We just stayed resilient,” Roach said on the FS1 broadcast. “We stayed within each other. We just played our game, and it came to us. We didn’t force anything. We played great defense and we played great offense.”

As a result, the Longhorns rallied to take a one-point lead at halftime and then extended it to 11 points in the second half.

The Tar Heels rallied to within two twice down the stretch, the last time when Nassir Little hit a three-pointer with four seconds left.

On the next possession, Longhorns guard Jase Febres was fouled and hit one of two free throws to account for the final score.

Texas deflected the ensuing inbounds pass on the last play, denying North Carolina a shot as the clocked ticked to 0:00.


Texas 5-0
North Carolina 5-1

Coming up

Texas vs. Michigan State, at Las Vegas, 5:30 p.m.


“(Roach) gave us everything he had tonight. At the four-minute media (timeout) I turned to our strength coach and said, ‘I hope he’s got four minutes left.’ Because he did look winded. But he’s really fought, battled, got himself in unbelievable shape. Obviously he was everything for us in terms of creating offense.” — Texas coach Shaka Smart. (Interview with FS1)


In the past 15 seasons under coach Roy Williams, North Carolina has won three national titles. The Tar Heels’ last championship came in 2017. They were knocked out in the round of 32 last year by Texas A&M. In three seasons under Smart, Texas has reached the NCAA tournament twice but hasn’t won an NCAA game. The Longhorns, despite what was then a career-best 26 points from Roach, were ousted by Nevada in the first round last year.

UIW vs. Northern Colorado photo gallery

Northern Colorado beat UIW 90-64 on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 at the UIW Convocation Center.

UIW’s Cody Graham (right) drive’s on Northern Colorado’s Johnatan Reyes.

Northern Colorado beat UIW 90-64 on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 at the UIW Convocation Center.

Electrifying Jordan Davis leads Northern Colorado past UIW

Northern Colorado guard Jordan Davis arrived at the McDermott Center Wednesday night billed as one of the top offensive threats in the Big Sky Conference.

Davis more than lived up to the hype with an all-around performance that lifted the Bears to a 90-64 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

With a quick first step, the nation’s 10th leading scorer made it tough on the Cardinals all night.

Not only did he produce 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting, he also grabbed five rebounds, passed for five assists and made four steals.

His drive and dunk over UIW’s Augustine Ene with four minutes remaining left a bystander behind the basket aghast, as he exclaimed, “Man, that was sick.”

(See video above).

Another Bears’ guard, Jonah Radebaugh, also hurt UIW with 20 points. Radebaugh nailed 5 of 6 three-point baskets.

Davis, 6-2, from Las Vegas, came in averaging 24.5 points.

“He’s really, really tough, really physical,” UIW coach Carson Cunningham said. “We knew he was a lot to deal with. I think he had 32 (points) on Pepperdine. We felt like he was going to present a major challenge for us. So we’re just going to keep battling.”

Davis seemed to turn up his intensity a few notches near the end of the game.

In a sequence of plays that lasted 71 seconds on clock, he drove down the lane for a layup (see video above), assisted on a layup for teammate Jalen Sanders and then threw down the dunk of the night.

“I definitely enjoy playing this pace, and making plays for my teammates,” Davis told The JB Replay. “I thought my teammates did a wonderful job of spacing the floor with screens and just getting me open.”


Northern Colorado: 3-0
Incarnate Word: 4-4

UIW forward Christian Peevy drives to the basket for a field goal late in the first half Wednesday night.

Shooting a high percentage from the field, Northern Colorado surged into a 49-31 halftime lead.

The Bears opened on a 14-3 run in the first five minutes of the game. After UIW responded with a streak to trim the lead to 19-13, Northern Colorado surged again, scoring 13 of the next 16 points.

After the dust cleared, the Bears held a 32-16 lead. The visiting team didn’t look back, building the advantage to as many as 22 points. Long-distance shooting artist Bodie Hume led the way with 13 points, including three baskets from three-point territory, in the first half.

UIW enjoyed perhaps its best stretch of the game in the first four minutes after intermission. Christian Peevy scored seven points in a 14-3 run for the Cardinals that cut the lead to six points.


Peevy produced a season-high 26 points on 9 of 12 from the field and 8 of 9 at the free throw line. Guard Augustine Ene was 7 of 11 for 16 points.

Northern Colorado did a good job on two of UIW’s primary offensive weapons. Freshman guard Morgan Taylor was held to eight points on 3 of 11 shooting. Senior Charles Brown III was held scoreless on 0 for 5 from the floor.

UIW’s defense could use some work before its next game, set for Sunday at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. The Bears shot 55.6 percent from the floor for the third-highest percentage against the Cardinals this year. Previously, the Montana Grizzlies shot 62 percent on UIW. Texas Tech shot 59.6 percent.

Local connection

Johnatan Reyes, a Northern Colorado sophomomre from Clark High School, contributed a rebound and an assist in 11 minutes off the bench. His biggest impact on the game may have been a large gathering of family, friends and supporters from the local area who were wearing ‘Northern Colorado’ shirts and cheering for the Bears.