Prairie View A&M strikes early, holds on late, to down UTSA

Jhivvan Jackson. Prarie View A&M beat UTSA 79-72 on Saturday night at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points for UTSA against Prairie View A&M. It was Jackson’s second 30-point game in a row and his third of the season. — Photo, Joe Alexander

The Prairie View A&M Panthers on Saturday night raced off on a 19-0 streak early in the game and made it stand up late for a 79-72 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Senior guard Gerard Andrus led the Panthers with 20 points and 10 rebounds to hand UTSA its sixth loss in seven games this season, and its first at home.

After Keaton Wallace scored on a drive to pull the Roadrunners to within three with 29 seconds remaining, Andrus hit four straight free throws to help the Panthers put it out of reach.


Prairie View 3-5
UTSA 1-6

‘A favorable match up’

Prairie View coach Byron Smith said his team brought momentum into the game after beating Central Arkansas in a neutral-site game in its last outing.

The Panthers knocked off the Bears 78-72 in overtime Saturday at Riverside, Calif., in the 2K Empire Classic.

“I think it just kind of pumped us up and we came out and got after it (tonight),” Smith said. “Obviously (UTSA is) a quality team. We felt like it was a favorable match up. UTSA is a good program and they’re going to be a really good team. They’re struggling a little bit.

“We thought our chances were good tonight, and we just got after them. We were ready to play from the opening tap.”

UTSA was hopeful that it had turned the corner after winning its last game, a 90-78 victory last Friday at home against NAIA Wiley College.

Prairie View had other ideas, shooting better than 50 percent from the field in both halves and finishing 30 of 54 for 55.6 percent.

On the other hand, UTSA couldn’t find the basket early against a Prairie View match up zone, allowing the Panthers to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 21-4 lead.

The Roadrunners misfired on eight straight shots during the Panthers’ run, including six 3-point attempts.

Frustration for UTSA

The Panthers, surprisingly, led for the rest of the game in front of an announced 888 fans at the Convocation Center.

“Frustrating,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Just haven’t put together any stretch of days all season where we felt real, real good about things. We were hoping we were taking some little steps this week …

“Hoped we had made enough progress to find a way to win this game. We didn’t.”

A team effort

Several Panthers played well, including Andrus, Darius Williams (15 points) and Lanell Henry (14).

Combined, the threesome hit 19 of 32 from the field.

But it was Andrus who put away the Roadrunners at the end with his free-throw shooting.

Asked if he liked Andrus at the line in tight situations, Smith laughed and said, “I like him anywhere. In an alley fight, he’s your guy. He’s going to step up. He’s going to make plays. He’s got a lot of toughness. He’s overcome a lot. He’s a great kid.”

Jackson scores 30

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points on 11 of 26 from the field. He was 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts.

As a team, the Roadrunners 26 of 67 for 38.8 percent. From three, the Roadrunners struggled again, hitting only 7 of 30 for 23.3 percent.

The Roadrunners have struggled from three all season, making only 28.2 percent.

Wallace shot 4 of 14 from the floor and 0 of 8 from three.

Bynum’s return

In his return to the Convocation Center, former UTSA guard Tamir Bynum scored seven points off the bench for Prairie View.

He hit all three of his shots from the field, including a driving layup with 14:06 remaining that capped a 7-0 run. Prior to the run, the Roadrunners had pulled to within one and were threatening.

Last fall, the former Houston-area high school standout played in nine games for the Roadrunners before transferring to Prairie View at the semester break. He averaged 1.9 points at UTSA.

Bynum has played in eight games for the Panthers this fall, averaging 4.9 points and 1.3 assists.

“Normally you’ve got to sit (out) a year but his mother had been ill, so he got a waiver and he was able to play immediately,” Smith said.

UTSA vs. Prairie View A&M photo gallery

Atem Bior had 9 points and 7 rebounds. Prarie View A&M beat UTSA 79-72 on Saturday night at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Atem Bior had 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Prarie View A&M beat UTSA 79-72 on Saturday night at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UTSA adjusts to expanded three-point arc in Division I basketball

Keaton Wallace.UTSA beat Wiley College 90-68 on Friday in the Roadrunners' first home game of the 2019-20 men's basketball season. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace produced six points, five assists and four steals in the second half of a 90-68 victory last Friday against Wiley College. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Last season, if you hit a jump shot from 20 feet, 9 inches in an NCAA Division I college basketball game, court side wags would dutifully write down a “three” next to your name on the score sheet.

Your effort would be cheered by the fans and hailed by the public address announcer, who’d croon your name along with two additional words, “for threeeeeee!”

This season, a jumper from 20-9 just isn’t the same. It counts the same as a layup. It’s only a two.

To earn three points for your team this season, you must hit the jumper from an arc measured at 22-1 and 3/4 inches.

Division I programs have been practicing with the new distance since the middle of the summer, but it’s still an adjustment for everyone, including the UTSA Roadrunners, as the calendar turns to the last day of November.

The 1-5 Roadrunners are shooting just 29.1 percent from beyond the arc, which represents quite a drop from last year (34.4) and from two years ago (36.1).

But even with the decline in efficiency, UTSA isn’t changing anything in regard to its overall offensive philosophy.

Last Friday, the Roadrunners hoisted 31 threes and knocked down 11 of them in their home opener against Wiley College.

Over the last eight minutes of the game, they took seven and made four from long distance and buried the Wildcats 90-68 for their first victory of the season.

Tonight, UTSA hosts Prairie View A&M, and fans are certain to see much of the same.

The Roadrunners will continue to play what is called “inside-out” basketball, hoping to collapse the defense and then pass out to the open man.

If the open man is standing behind the arc, he’s expected to take it and make it.

Earlier in the season, with UTSA playing its first five games away from home, the perimeter shooting in general was poor for a number of reasons.

But UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said earlier this week that the additional 16 and 3/4 inches on the three-point arc wasn’t a good thing initially for a team that was also trying to figure out its point guard situation.

“I think it affected us a little bit, since we are stretched out on the floor a little bit more,” Wallace said. “I feel like, sooner or later, we’re going to start using it to our advantage.

“We do have guys on our team that can shoot the ball. I feel like it’s going to stretch out the defense a little bit more.

“Once we start putting things together, start jelling a little bit more, I think it’ll be an advantage to us and not a disadvantage.”

Wallace said UTSA players worked hard over the summer in an attempt to adjust to the new court dimensions.

“I feel everyone was locked in and trying to get their shot adjusted,” he said. “Some guys have that shot, you know, muscle memory. When they shoot it, they know it’s going in. It’s just second nature.

“Guys had to make slight adjustments. You know, jump higher. Flick (the wrist) a little harder. We worked on it pretty well.”

UTSA made one major personnel adjustment after the 0-5 start.

In an effort to get a better flow on the offense, the Roadrunners moved freshman Erik Czumbel into the starting lineup at point guard and sent Wallace back out to the wing.

Wallace continued to struggle a bit with his shot against Wiley, hitting only 5 of 14 shots, including 2 of 7 from three.

But the feeling is that Wallace, who is shooting 29.7 percent from the field and 26.5 from three, will come around eventually.

There’s also a feeling that other shooters also will flourish once they get a few home games under their belt.

UTSA coach Steve Henson isn’t so much concerned about the new three-point arc as he is about the execution of the offense. He just wants to see his players take better shots.

“Exactly,” he said. “And to do that, we’ve got to get some different types of penetration. Some dribble penetration. We got to get some guys rolling to the basket. We need to get the ball into the post and then back out.”

Looking for a second straight victory, UTSA hosts Prairie View

As the UTSA Roadrunners prepare to host the Prairie View A&M Panthers Saturday night at the Convocation Center, they know what needs to happen as they continue efforts to dig out of a 1-5 hole to start to the season.

They need to keep making the defensive stops that turned up the tempo in the second half last Friday night against Wiley College.

They need to run the floor in the open court, move the ball around and let the shots fly with some confidence.

Against Wiley, they did that successfully after the halftime break, scoring 51 points on the NAIA program en route to a 90-68 victory.

Now it’s on to Prairie View, and a chance for UTSA to notch its first victory of the season against an NCAA Division I team.

“I feel like we still haven’t found our identity yet,” UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said. “You know, it’s still fairly early. We still got a lot more games to play. We’re not even close to conference yet.

“But I feel like we still got a lot of work to do. I feel like we haven’t reached our peak. We still got a lot of potential to bring out of this team.

“Throughout these next few practices, these next few games, we’re just going to keep getting better.”


Prairie View A&M 2-5
UTSA 1-5

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski: SFA ‘played harder than we did’

Nathan Bain scored on a breakaway layup with less than a second remaining in overtime Tuesday night as the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks registered an improbable 85-83 road victory over the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils.

After Bain hit the shot, he was mobbed by his teammates as players and staff charged off the visitors’ bench to celebrate the end of a 150-game Duke winning streak at home over non-conference opponents.

It was the first victory by a visiting non-conference team at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Feb. 26, 2000, when St. John’s won, 83-82.

The Lumberjacks are coached by Kyle Keller, a former UTSA assistant coach.

Keller has worked as an assistant at Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma State, UTSA and Louisiana Tech. He worked at UTSA for one season in 1996-97 under former coach Tim Carter.

In an interview aired via radio broadcast on 94.7 Smoke, out of Charlotte, Keller said he feels blessed to win and fortunate that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski agreed to play the game.

‘Run Nate, run’

Asked what he was thinking when Bain raced up court in the final seconds with no time outs, Keller asked radio hosts if they had ever seen the movie, “Forrest Gump.”

“Run Nate run,” Keller said. “That’s what I was thinking.”

Krzyzewski told the Duke radio broadcast that the Lumberjacks deserved to win.

“They played like an old, veteran team,” Krzyzewski said. “They played harder than we did, and they were tougher … We were coming off winning a championship in New York. We were soft tonight.”

The Lumberjacks trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half. Matthew Hurt hit a shot off a feed from Vernon Carey, Jr., to make it 33-18 with 9:03 remaining.

From there, SFA rallied behind Kevon Harris, who had 20 of his team-high 26 points in the first half. He led a 22-12 streak as the Lumberjacks pulled to within 45-40 at halftime.

SFA kept grinding it out in the second half and forged a 75-72 lead with 3:30 remaining on Nathan Bain’s jumper.

The game was up for grabs in the final minute. First, the Lumberjacks tied it on Gavin Kensmil’s layup with 19 seconds left.

Next, Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley missed shots for Duke, sending it to overtime tied, 81-81.

Overtime evolved into a defensive struggle.

With the scored tied 83-83, Duke was working for the last shot when a pass to the baseline resulted in a loose ball and a pass to the perimeter, where Bain grabbed it and raced the distance to lay it in.

Duke radio reported that Bain’s shot fell through the net with “two or three-tenths” of a second remaining.

‘Prayed it would go in’

“I looked up at the clock and saw I had 2.6 seconds, just going as fast as I can to lay it up. Like a layup drill. Prayed it would go in,” Bain told reporters at the game site, as reported by the Associated Press. “I wasn’t sure if the guy was going to foul me or not. Get it on the rim to give us a chance.”

Keller said both teams were “gassed” in the second half and overtime.

“We had gone up and down,” he said. “It was such a fast-paced first half. Both teams were pressuring and playing old school pressure, denial, hit you in the mouth, force the turnovers and run up and down. Nobody had anything left by the time we got to the second half, to be honest with you.”


Former UTSA assistant Jeremy Cox is an assistant head coach with the Lumberjacks. Cox also worked for the Roadrunners in the 1990s … The Lumberjacks have played in NCAA tournaments in five of the past 11 seasons. Keller and Cox led the Lumberjacks to the tournament in 2017-18 … Former Spurs great James Silas, whose jersey No. 13 is retired in the rafters at the AT&T Center, played at SFA.


Keller said he was so proud of his players going into the overtime, he asked them what offensive sets they wanted to run. “For four minutes and 59 seconds we scored two points,” the coach pointed out. “That’ll be the last time I let them run offense.”


SFA 5-1
Duke 6-1

Statistically speaking

SFA: Kevon Harris had 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Cameron Johnson scored 16 off the bench. Gavin Kensmil produced 15 points and 7 rebounds. Nathan Bain had 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

Duke: Vernon Carey Jr., had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Tre Jones had 17 points, 12 assists. Cassius Stanley, 15 points, 5 rebounds. Matthew Hurt, 15 points.

Free throws

Duke lost the game at the free throw line. The Blue Devils were 24 of 40 at the line. The Lumberjacks were 11 of 17.

UTSA picks up its first victory, racing past Wiley College, 90-68

Freshman point guard Erik Czumbel on Friday night shrugged off the pressure of making his first start in college basketball.

He just played his game, guiding the UTSA Roadrunners to their first victory of the season, a 90-68 win over the NAIA Wiley College Wildcats.

Afterward, the 6-foot-3 native of Italy couldn’t hide his joy at moving into the starting lineup in only his sixth game for the Roadrunners.

“It feels great,” Czumbel said. “It gives me a lot of confidence, and the home crowd gave me energy. It gave all the team energy, especially in the second half.”

Playing its home opener in front of an announced 917 at the Convocation Center, UTSA turned it on after intermission, shooting 54 percent from the field and outscoring the visiting team, 51-37.

As a result, the Roadrunners finally notched a mark in the win column, improving to 1-5.

Coach Steve Henson acknowledged some sloppy play by his team early, which allowed the visitors to stay close.

“Second half, (we) kind of let them hang (around) and then finally at one point, a couple of guys really stepped up,” Henson said. “I thought Atem (Bior) and Keaton (Wallace) stepped up defensively, and Jhivvan (Jackson) got a little more active.

“I thought Erik was terrific all night all night long. When those two or three guys really set the tone for us defensively, our activity picked up and we got some transition, and that kind of allowed us to pop the game open.”

Jackson led the Roadrunners with 31 points on 10 of 19 shooting. Bouncing back from some sub-par outings earlier in the season, Wallace filled the box score with 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds. He also had five steals.

Bior came off the bench for 11 points and six rebounds. But it was the play of Czumbel, who had 10 points, five assists and six rebounds, that had the media on press row talking.

If he can emerge as a steadying force as a starter at the point, UTSA has a chance to make a run for a conference title in March.

Czumbel played well on Monday in a loss at Utah State, which prompted coaches to consider giving him an expanded role against Wiley. He continued to play well in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and, by Friday, he was the starter.

“Really proud of him,” Henson said. “I thought he did a lot of good things the other day against Utah State. He’s been steady all year in practice. Again, it’s just the impact we think he can have on getting Keaton back to his normal self.”

First-half recap

The Roadrunners hit six 3-pointers in the first half, racing to a 39-31 lead on Wiley College at intermission.

Playing its first home game of the season at the Convocation Center, UTSA nailed 6 of 18 from long distance and out-rebounded the Wildcats, 27-15.

Nine offensive rebounds for the Roadrunners contributed to a 22-5 advantage in second-chance points.


UTSA 1-5
Wiley 2-2


The Roadrunners are 3-1 in home openers under Henson.

UTSA vs. Wiley College photo gallery

UTSA's Keaton Wallace (center) passes the ball up to Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Wiley College 90-68 on Friday in the Roadrunners' first home game of the 2019-20 men's basketball season. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace (center) passes the ball up to Jhivvan Jackson.

UTSA beat Wiley College 90-68 on Friday in the Roadrunners’ first home game of the 2019-20 men’s basketball season.

Czumbel could get start at point guard tonight for UTSA

UTSA guard Erik Czumbel is averaging 4.4 points in 12 minutes off the bench through five games. - photo by Joe Alexander

Erik Czumbel is averaging 4.4 points in 12 minutes off the bench through UTSA’s first five games. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Hoping to break through with their first victory of a new season, the UTSA Roadrunners are considering a change in the starting lineup on the eve of tonight’s home opener.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said Thursday he may start with freshman Erik Czumbel at point guard when the Roadrunners play the NAIA Wiley College Wildcats.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Asked if Czumbel could get his first start, Henson said it could happen.

“We haven’t made the full decision on that, but there’s a very good chance,” the coach said.

Surprisingly, the Roadrunners haven’t won any of their first five games.

Moreover, they couldn’t sustain much consistency in a road opener at Oklahoma, in three neutral-site games in Florida and, finally, in a 32-point road loss Monday at 15th-ranked Utah State.

“We haven’t played the way we expected to, the way we are capable of, against some really, really good opponents,” Henson said. “We expected to be a little further along than we were.

“(It was a) tough start. We got to figure some things out. We got to defend better. Got to get better possessions offensively. We got to settle into a (playing) rotation.

“It’s a combination of everything.”

Hopes were high coming into the season with the presence of scoring stars Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace and a cast of promising newcomers.

With those two 20-point scorers from last year returning, the Roadrunners were picked to finish second in Conference USA.

Readying for a three-game homestand, UTSA has yet to make much magic.

The Roadrunners come in shooting an unsightly 34 percent from the field as a team. They’re averaging only 63 points. Opponents are averaging 81, including 86.5 the past two games.

“We haven’t been making shots, and we haven’t been getting the stops we needed,” Jackson said. “We’re really ready to step it up and start winning some games.”

Henson hopes that a return to the home court will help.

He also hopes that by playing Czumbel more at the point, he can relieve Wallace from some of his ball-handling responsibilities and allow him to start finding open spaces and knocking down more threes.

“We got to get Erik in there a lot more, because that’s going to help Keaton and Jhivvan,” Henson said.

UTSA’s starting backcourt tonight could be Czumbel, with Jackson and Wallace on the wings.

In that case, senior Byron Frohnen likely moves to the power forward, with either Atem Bior or Luka Barisic at center.

For the past three years, the Roadrunners started Giovanni De Nicolao at the point, and he emerged as a steady passer and ball handler who didn’t shoot much unless a play broke down.

He was solid defensively.

Czumbel has also exhibited strong defensive capabilities, but on offense, he has proven to be more of a shooter than a facilitator — at least, to this point.

The 6-3 guard from Italy, averaging 4.4 points in 12 minutes through five games, has has hit 8 of 13 from the field and 5 of 9 from three.

He has four assists and four turnovers.

Texas State rallies for 64-57 road victory at UNLV

The Texas State Bobcats rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half and then held on late to defeat the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 64-57 Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Guard Nijal Pearson led the Bobcats with a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds in the victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Runnin’ Rebels couldn’t get anything going offensively against the Bobcats, shooting 34.7 percent from the field.


Texas State 4-2
UNLV 2-4

Key Sequence

Trailing 26-16, the Bobcats constructed a 12-2 run to tie the game at halftime. Pearson hit four straight free throws and a jumper in the streak that lifted Texas State into a 28-28 tie.

Star watch

Amauri Hardy scored 18 for UNLV, hitting 4 of 7 from beyond the three-point stripe. The junior guard from Detroit was 5 of 14 from the field. Hardy entered averaging 19 points.

Pearson, a senior guard from Beaumont, hit 8 of 16 from the floor. He was only 1 of 5 from three. But he nailed 8 of 9 at the line. He came in averaging 17.8.

No. 15 Utah State shakes off slow start to down UTSA, 82-50

The 15th-ranked Utah State Aggies allowed the UTSA Roadrunners to hang around for a few minutes to start the game.

But they weren’t going to be that generous for too long.

Utah State rolled on a 14-0 run over a four-minute stretch in the first half and never faced another serious challenge in routing UTSA 82-50 Monday night.

In the game played before a raucous crowd of 8,667 in Logan, Utah, Sam Merrill scored 21 points to lead the undefeated Aggies, who improved to 5-0.

The Roadrunners fell to 0-5 on a night when they were out-rebounded 55-36.

UTSA played well defensively in stretches but couldn’t close out possessions, getting beat 38-8 in second-chance points.

An ugly offense and, perhaps an unsettled point guard situation, also contributed to the Roadrunners’ demise. They shot 28.6 percent from the field.


UTSA is 0-5 for the second season in a row.


“Probably the best team we’ve played in my three-plus years here. Great environment. Great opportunity for us. I thought we were ready to go there in the first half. We (knew we) were going to have to play a really, really good ball game. We gave up that (14-0) stretch and in the second half we got whooped.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson, on the team’s radio broadcast.


UTSA 0-5t
Utah State 5-0

Statistically speaking

UTSA stars Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace combined to shoot 11 of 41 from the field. Jackson was 7 of 25.

Coming up

UTSA opens its home schedule Friday night against Wiley College, an NAIA program based in Marshall, Texas.

A three-game home-stand continues against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 30 and against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 3.

The Roadrunners play at Texas State on Dec. 7.