Basketball fraternity mourns the passing of Ken Burmeister

Ken Burmeister. The Incarnate Word men's basketball team opened the season with an 87-71 victory over Southwestern on Friday night. (Joe Alexander / theJBreplay.com)

Ken Burmeister won 311 games in a 21-year career with head coaching jobs at UTSA, Chicago (Loyola), Trinity and the University of the Incarnate Word.

Friends and basketball coaching colleagues on Tuesday paid tribute to the late Ken Burmeister, a fiery head coach who led programs at UTSA, Trinity and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

The passing of Burmeister, 72, was reported first in a tweet from former UIW assistant coach John Smith.

Burmeister, who won 311 games in a 21-year head coaching career, is best known for leading the UTSA Roadrunners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1988.

He posted two 20-win seasons in four years with the Roadrunners through 1990.

Most recently, Burmeister worked a dozen seasons at UIW.

Hired by former UIW president Dr. Louis Agnese in 2006, Burmeister posted three 20-win seasons with the Cardinals.

In 2013-14, UIW opened a four-year transition into the NCAA Division I Southland Conference.

Under Burmeister, the Cardinals posted road eye-opening victories at St. John’s and at Nebraska in their transition.

He was fired after a 7-21 season in 2017-18.

His combined record has been calculated at 311-281 based on an online examination of his tenure at UTSA, Loyola-Chicago, Trinity and UIW.

Burmeister, a graduate of St. Mary’s, first made a name for himself as an assistant on Lute Olson’s staffs at Iowa and Arizona.

Burmeister’s tenure at UIW was highlighted by upset victories on the road at Princeton and Nebraska in 2014-15 and at St. John’s in 2015-16.

Guard Denzel Livingston led the Cardinals’ high-powered offensive attack and later earned an invitation to the Houston Rockets’ training camp.

Burmeister is survived by his wife, Brenda, and two children, Amanda and Sam. A student-athlete at UIW, Sam Burmeister played in 100 games and made 56 starts for his father between 2013 and 2018.

Ken Burmeister

Year by Year

1986-1987 UTSA, 13-15
1987-1988 UTSA, 22-9 NCAA tournament
1988-1989 UTSA, 15-13
1989-1990 UTSA, 22-7
1994-1995 Loyola (Chicago), 5-22
1995-1996 Loyola (Chicago), 8-19
1996-1997 Loyola (Chicago), 12-15
1997-1998 Loyola (Chicago), 15-15
1998-1999 Trinity University, 16-9
x2006-2007 UIW, 1-28 (18-11)
2007-2008 UIW, 17-11
2008-2009 UIW, 23-7
2009-2010 UIW, 23-7
2010-2011 UIW, 16-10
2011-2012 UIW, 16-11
x2012-2013 UIW, 12-16 (14-14)
2013-2014 UIW, 21-6
2014-2015 UIW, 18-11
2015-16 UIW, 17-12
2016-17 UIW, 12-17
2017-18 UIW, 7-21

Total: 311-281

Note – Burmeister coached Division III Trinity in 1998-99. Incarnate Word played in Division II from his arrival in 2006 through the 2012-13 season. Burmeister led UIW into a four-year Division I transition starting in 2013.

x – Indicates record adjustments because of NCAA violations in both 2006-07 and 2012-13. Actual records are in parentheses.

South San, Highlands teams created 1960s baseball magic

I called a couple of 1960s-era San Antonio high school baseball players a few weeks ago to talk about their careers and how both of them, as minor leaguers, found their way into the same clubhouse one summer at V.J. Keefe Field.

John Langerhans and Richard Guerra, who both played for the San Antonio Brewers in 1975, were more than generous with their time. At the outset of each interview, I told both of them that, for me, their respective legacies in South Texas were worthy of re-examination at this moment in time, in particular.

Why? Well, first of all, the start of the baseball season has been delayed indefinitely because of a horrific national health crisis. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Missions’ schedule for the first month has been obliterated, and nobody can predict when opening day might be.

It is the longest pause in minor-league operations in San Antonio since 1965-67, when the city went without pro ball for three seasons.

At the time, the parent-club Houston Colt .45s had pulled the team out of San Antonio and sent it to Amarillo. With old Mission Stadium on the south side shuttered, it seemed in some ways as if the game had turned its back on the Alamo City. But that’s also about the same time that some magic started to happen locally on high school diamonds, with Langerhans and Guerra central to all the excitement.

The Cliff Gustafson-coached South San Bobcats, featuring Langerhans as one of the team’s top pitchers and hitters, won consecutive state titles at the Class 3A level in 1966 and 1967. Langerhans, now 70 and retired from high school coaching, punctuated the second championship by throwing a no-hitter in the title game. The Bobcats finished 39-0 after their victory over Beaumont Forest Park.

Trying for a three-peat, South San marched into the 1968 state tournament, but the Bobcats were denied and later settled for a third-place finish.

Guerra, meanwhile, played a major role that same week for a Tom Henslee-coached Highlands team trying to win its first title in Class 4A. Guerra, now a 68-year-old, truck driver, fired a 16-strikeout no-hitter for the Owls in the state semifinals against Arlington. An ensuing championship victory over Pasadena was historic in that it was the first, and it remains as the only, state baseball title by a San Antonio school in the UIL’s largest classification.

Langerhans watched as a spectator at Austin’s Nelson Field when Guerra, a sophomore playing in his first year on the Highlands varsity, pitched the masterpiece.

“He had a 90-mph fast ball and a great curve ball,” Langerhans recalled. “I mean, he had a fall-off-the-table curve ball. It was just, it was nasty. He was special. There was no doubt about that. Nati Salazar was our ace at South San (in 1966 and ’67). Nati was just as nasty (as Guerra). But he didn’t throw as hard as Richie.

“Nati had what I always called an optical-illusion curve ball. Now you see it. Now you don’t. It was just feared. Richie’s curve ball was similar to that. But Richie threw harder.”

Guerra said he also admired Langerhans’ presence on a ball field, as well.

“He took control out there,” said Guerra, who played against the South San star in the amateur Spanish-American League but never in a varsity high school game. “He was awesome. Had control of all his pitches.”

Langerhans and Guerra took different routes to become Double-A minor league teammates in the Alamo City. Langerhans, a 1968 South San graduate, attended the University of Texas and became an All-American. He was picked up in the second phase of the 1972 draft, selected on the second round, by the Cleveland Indians.

After three seasons of A-ball at Reno in the California League, Langerhans moved up to the Indians’ Texas League team in San Antonio.

Guerra, a 1970 Highlands grad, also entered pro ball in 1972. He was signed by the San Francisco Giants and spent three seasons with the organization, before signing with the Indians and heading to V.J. Keefe in the spring of 1975.

He would join Langerhans on a squad known locally as the San Antonio Brewers. Langerhans remembered the surprise he felt when he first walked into the home team clubhouse at V.J. Keefe, on the campus of St. Mary’s University.

“It was interesting,” Langerhans said. “Richie wasn’t on the Cleveland roster when we broke camp (at spring training). We went in there, and Cleveland had picked up Richie as a free agent … We get into San Antonio and (go) in the clubhouse and there’s Richie Guerra. I’m going, ‘What in the heck are you doing here?’ “

Guerra was trying to find redemption following his offseason release from the Giants.

In August of 1974, he was in San Antonio as a visiting ball player for the Double-A Amarillo Giants. With a game rained out and players from both the Amarillo and San Antonio teams visiting a club on the south east side, a shooting incident ensued. It killed Guerra’s older brother. Guerra and Amarillo pitcher Dave Heaverlo also were hit with gunfire.

“A fight broke out and somebody started shooting into the club from the outside,” Guerra said. “(The shooter) ran in and started (firing). He got me and my brother. I was hit in the neck. I had to have surgery to repair a few things. But I was all right. I was really blessed. I was very lucky.”

Once Guerra had recovered after spending a few weeks in the hospital, he was still grieving the loss of his brother, former Highlands athlete Johnny Guerra, when he got more bad news. Giants farm director Carl Hubbell paid a visit to his home to tell him that he had been released.

“I felt like they would take some disciplinary action, but I didn’t know how harsh it was going to be,” he said.

By the next spring, Guerra would get a new start with the Indians. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound dynamo, once a dominant high school pitcher, enjoyed perhaps his best season in the U.S. minor leagues. Playing mostly in the outfield, he hit .307 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI.

Guerra never reached the major leagues but did play nine seasons in the Mexican League.

For Langerhans, the 1975 season was his last as a professional ball player. He had to give up the game when chronic pain in his left shoulder forced him to retire.

However, he was far from finished with baseball. He went on to become a head coach in Texas high schools for 27 seasons, including four at San Antonio Madison in the North East Independent School District. Langerhans won 613 games, reached the state championship game twice and claimed one state title, in 1997, with the Round Rock Dragons.

He now lives in Round Rock with his wife, Sharon. Langerhans cherishes memories of playing at South San for Gustafson, who won seven state titles with the Bobcats and later went on to win two NCAA championships at Texas.

“We felt like, there wasn’t anybody that could beat us,” Langerhans said. “Our attitude was, if we didn’t make it to the state tournament … or at least the (way the) community looked at it, if we didn’t go to the state tournament, we had a losing season. It was just the attitude that Gus built. You don’t get beat. You win. You go all the way.

“And, of course, Gus made the difference. We were talented. But back in those days, there weren’t too many great baseball coaches around. In those days, a lot of these schools had football coaches coaching their baseball team. So, Gus basically out-coached everybody, to go along with the talent we had.”

Guerra, a San Antonio resident who still lives in the Highlands neighborhood, said he was coaxed into trying out for varsity baseball by team captains Jesse Causey and Bubba Hermes.

“When I got to Highlands and baseball season came around, I saw the postings for the tryouts,” he said. “I was very hesitant on trying out for the team, because I knew they were really outstanding ball players. So, I wasn’t mentally sure I was going to make the team. I was really hesitant in trying out.

“As a matter of fact, I didn’t think I was going. One day I was sitting in class at Highlands. Jesse Causey, Bubba Hermes and the coach, at that time, Tom Henslee, they all came by. Jesse and Bubba introduced me to the coach. They asked if I was interested. That’s how it started. I went out and made the team, and everything just followed in suit after that. We had a really good season.”

Today, Guerra is a hard-working man. A truck driver ever since he retired from baseball in 1985, he delivers for Borden Dairy. Guerra leaves his home every week day before dawn, checks out a big-rig on the city’s south east side and then drives to Austin, where his trailer is loaded with crates of milk that he delivers to locations around South Texas.

At one time years ago, Guerra would spend nights out on the road. No more. He said he’s home by 7 or 8 each night. Guerra takes pride in his occupation, particularly now, with so many people out of work and experiencing food insecurity.

“I just feel very bad for everyone,” he said. “The virus has made such a tremendous change. But I think we’re going to get through it. Everything’s going to be OK. We just have to be really cautious right now.”

Langerhans encouraged ball players at every level who are facing uncertainty.

“You can’t do anything about it,” he said. “So, keep working out. Try to keep that good attitude. And when the time comes and that door opens, go out and make the best of it. That’s all you can do. You know, everybody is in the same boat. And, so, it’s just a shame that this is happening and that it’s happening in all sports.”

Baseball, in the big picture, seems almost insignificant. But I will admit, as a fan of the game, I do miss it terribly. I miss the major leagues. I miss the minors. I miss the colleges, and I really miss the drama of the high school playoffs.

In talking to the two former San Antonio baseball icons, I found myself dreaming a little bit. Boy, what I’d give if I could see a game today between the ‘67 South San Bobcats and the ‘68 Highlands Owls. A pitching matchup of Langerhans vs. Guerra, perhaps.

When I told Guerra during our telephone interview that school administrators could have sold a few bags of popcorn for that game back in the day, he laughed.
“Yeah, that would have really been something to see,” Guerra said.

On a frightening day in America, UTSA’s season ends

Clinging to a one-point lead in the last minute, the UAB Blazers knocked down six straight free throws down the stretch to hold off the UTSA Roadrunners 74-69 Wednesday night in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.

With the loss, UTSA’s season has come to an end. The Roadrunners finished 13-19. The Blazers will move on to play Western Kentucky Thursday night in the tournament, which is being played at Frisco.

The game was played against the frightening national back-drop of a threat from COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus.

During the day, the NCAA Tournament took a hit when it was announced that fans would not be allowed to attend the games.

Several conferences, including Conference USA, also announced that they were closing their tournaments to all except for players, players’ families, coaches, staff and credentialed media.

In addition, the most shocking development came when the NBA announced it had suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the 10th-seeded Roadrunners were playing to extend what had been a disappointing season, finally coming up short to the No. 7 Blazers.

Keaton Wallace scored 28 points to lead the Roadrunners. Jhivvan Jackson, UTSA’s all-time leading scorer and the No. 1 scorer in the C-USA, was held to 12 points on 4 of 17 shooting.

Records

UTSA 13-19
UAB 19-13

Notable

It was a tough day for Jackson, who had enjoyed the best individual, single-season scoring effort in school history. He never found a rhythm, tying for his second-lowest point total in 32 games.

UTSA coach Steve Henson, interviewed on the team’s post-game radio show, expressed some frustration at how the team was able to get Wallace on a hot streak, while Jackson struggled.

Quotable

“Jhivvan’s been so good here, and Keaton’s been struggling as of late,” Henson told Andy Everett on KTKR radio, The Ticket. “So we just talked to ’em real briefly. We didn’t have a ton of practice time. We just talked about sliding Keaton off the ball, just maybe trigger that thought.

“Knew it really wouldn’t play itself out that much, in terms of how often Jhivvan was the point (guard) and Keaton was off. I still think that’s a little bit overrated. But, maybe that clicked for Keaton.

“He didn’t have to initiate the offense for the first two or three minutes. We got some screens for him and got his first few shots to go down. That part was terrific. Downside was Jhivvan never got going.”

UTSA’s Jackson, Wallace honored on all conference squad

Conference USA released its all-conference teams Monday. Predictably, both Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace of UTSA were honored. Jackson made first team and Wallace was on the second team.

The Roadrunners open the C-USA tournament on Wednesday night in Frisco. UTSA, the 10th seed in a 12-team event, will tip off against the No. 7 UAB Blazers at 8:30 p.m. The Roadrunners and Blazers split a pair of games in San Antonio this season.

UTSA to take on the UAB Blazers in tournament play

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA came from behind in the second half to beat UAB 66-59 in a Conference USA bonus play game Sunday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson, the nation’s second leading scorer, averages 27.2 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Roadrunners.

The UTSA Roadrunners will play the UAB Blazers on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in Frisco in the first round of the Conference USA men’s basketball tournament, officials said.

The tournament is being played at The Star in Frisco.

UTSA will need to win four games in four days to earn the C-USA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Roadrunners earned the 10th seed in the C-USA tournament and a date with the No. 7 Blazers. The teams split two games this season, both of them in San Antonio.

If UTSA wins the opener, it would advance to the quarterfinals Thursday against No. 2 seed Western Kentucky.

UTSA’s Henson vows that his team won’t pull apart now

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson scored 37 points and sparked a late rally, but Marshall held on for an 82-77 victory Saturday afternoon. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After an excruciatingly painful setback Saturday afternoon to close a disappointing regular season, UTSA coach Steve Henson talked about starting over next week at the Conference USA Tournament.

About pulling together to try to salvage the year.

Keaton Wallace. UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace had a tough day, scoring 13 points on 4 of 18 shooting. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

It was a tough day for Henson, no doubt, as his team played a dynamic 10-minute stretch at the end, only to suffer the misfortune of seeing the Marshall Thundering Herd hold on to win 82-77 at the Convocation Center.

So, what’s next?

Needing four wins in four days to reach the NCAA Tournament, the Roadrunners open the C-USA postseason on Wednesday in Frisco.

“New season,” Henson said. “I know it’s a cliche’. But it’s where we’re at right now, you know, and the fact that this group has stayed together — we haven’t had any chemistry issues. We haven’t had any locker room issues. We don’t worry about that at this point.

“If we were going to have that … if guys were going to pull apart out of frustration, that would have happened already. You know, this group had high expectations. We wanted to compete for the regular-season Conference USA title.

“We fell short of that, and our guys did not pull apart. So, they’re not going to pull apart now. We’re healthy. Keaton (Wallace) looked a little bit tired (today). We’d been riding him so hard, so long, all year. He needs a good day and a half off now.

“Got to get him going, obviously. We need to have some other guys step up. But, I don’t worry about our resiliency. I don’t worry about our chemistry. Our guys will come in ready to go on Monday.”

Scheduled to open the C-USA tournament as the 10th seed, UTSA has lost two straight games and four of its last five. The Roadrunners, picked to finish second in the C-USA preseason poll, have also dropped nine of their last 14.

Records

Marshall 16-15, 10-8
UTSA 13-18, 7-11

By the numbers

Marshall — Forward Mikel Beyers scored 20 points off the bench to spark the Herd. He was one of five Marshall players in double figures, a group that also included Jarrod West (15), Andrew Taylor (12) and Jannison Williams and Taevion Kinsey (10 each).

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson, a Conference USA Player of the Year candidate, finished with a double-double of 37 points and 11 rebounds. He scored 15 points in a row down the stretch for the Roadrunners. After Jackson, there was little help, with Wallace held to 13 points. Freshman center Jacob Germany finished with 10.

At the end

Trailing by 19 against the Herd with 10:26 remaining, the Roadrunners finally found a spark that had been missing all day. They outscored the visitors 30-14 over the next 10 minutes to pull within three points.

At the end, in the final seconds, a turnover by West opened the door for UTSA to tie the game. But with the Roadrunners trailing 80-77, the Roadrunners gave it right back, as Jackson fumbled an inbounds pass out of bounds.

Forced to foul, UTSA sent West, a junior guard, to the line on the other end. He promptly knocked down two free throws with eight seconds left for the final points of the game.

Jackson, who played 37 minutes, declined to blame fatigue for his error at the end.

“No sir,” he said. “When I’m on the court, I don’t get tired. It just slipped out of my hand. If I would have caught it, it would have been a basket. It just happened. I’m going to catch the next one, for sure.”

First half

West scored 11 points in the first half as hot-shooting Marshall moved out to a 52-40 lead at intermission. Marshall shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down seven three-pointers in the half against the struggling Roadrunners. Jackson had scored 19 for the Roadrunners. UTSA shot only 40 percent and got out-rebounded 24-18.

Second-half

A poor shooting performance by the Roadrunners in the first eight minutes — 1 for 14 — allowed the Herd to take control of the game. Jackson was 1 for 6 during the stretch and Wallace 0 for 4. As a result, the Herd built the first of two 19-point leads. In the last nine minutes of the game, UTSA warmed up by hitting 9 of 18, but it was too late.

Senior Day

UTSA honored Byron Frohnen and Atem Bior on Senior Day. Frohnen holds the school record for career rebounds with 901. He also has records for games played and started with 131.

Byron Frohnen. UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Byron Frohnen holds school records for career rebounds (901), starts (131) and also games played (131).

In Frohnen’s last game at home, he had five points, five rebounds and four assists. He hit two of three from the field. Bior, a two-year player for UTSA, had four points, six rebounds and three steals.

Frohnen said “it sucks” to lose on what likely is his last appearance at the Convocation Center. He said he wanted to go out with a win.

“I had great memories here,” he said. “I definitely won’t forget anything. I had a great time here.”

It’s also possible that it could have been the last home game for Jackson and Wallace, too, as Henson has said that both are scheduled to participate in an NBA Draft evaluation process after the season.

The process, as explained by Henson in January, will allow the high-scoring duo to get an evaluation of their market value, with an option to return to play another year for the Roadrunners.

Jackson, asked if he had considered whether the Marshall game might have been his last at home, shrugged off the question. “No, I haven’t thought about that yet,” he said.

Old Dominion explodes in second half to rout UTSA, 84-59

The Old Dominion Monarchs shot 57.1 percent from the field in the second half Wednesday night, breaking from an intermission tie and routing the UTSA Roadrunners, 84-59.

In the game played on Old Dominion’s home court in Norfolk, Va., Monarchs guard A.J. Oliver produced a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Four other ODU players scored in double figures, including Xavier Green with 19, Malik Curry (15), Joe Reece (13) and Kalu Ezikpe (10).

Keaton Wallace led three UTSA players in double digits with 18 points. Jhivvan Jackson scored 14 and Jacob Germany 10.

The Roadrunners shot 27.3 percent in the second half and 32.8 percent for the game en route to their second-widest margin of defeat this season.

UTSA’s 25-point deficit was second only to a 32-point loss at Utah State on Nov. 18, in their fifth game.

Early in the second half, Old Dominion broke open the game with a 26-2 run. With the burst, the Monarchs opened a 66-41 lead.

Jackson, the NCAA’s second-leading scorer, was held out of the starting lineup because he was late to practice earlier this week.

He played 23 minutes and shot 5 of 11 from the floor.

With the performance, Jackson broke the school single-season record for field goals in a season (274).

Derrick Gervin had the old record of 272, set in 1984-85.

He also reached 2,004 points in his career to become the first player in school history to eclipse the 2,000 barrier.

Records

Old Dominion 13-17, 9-8
UTSA 13-17, 7-10

Coming up

Marshall at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m. It’s the regular-season finale for both teams. The Conference USA tournament is March 11-14 at Frisco.

Notable

The Monarchs hit 14 of their first 20 shots from the field in the second half to break the game open. Green, a 6-foot-6 junior, heated up considerably during the stretch. He made four in a row at one point.

Quotable

“We played zone. We played 2-3. We played 3-2. We played man. None of it worked in the second half. We didn’t compete hard enough, I guess.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast.

Jackson-led Roadrunners rally late, down the UAB Blazers, 66-59

Jhivvan Jackson scored 28 points to lead UTSA past UAB on Sunday at the UTSA Convocation Center in a Conference USA bonus play game. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored 28 points to lead UTSA past UAB on Sunday at the Convocation Center in Conference USA basketball. – photo by Joe Alexander

Trailing by nine points with 4:53 remaining Sunday afternoon, the UTSA Roadrunners didn’t seem to have the spark necessary to win on the first day of March.

But, you know what they say about March and college basketball.

Jhivvan Jackson exploded for 14 points in a maddening 16-0 run as the Roadrunners rallied for a dramatic 66-59 victory over the UAB Blazers.

Sophomore forward Adrian Rodriguez made his first career start as UTSA beat UAB 66-59 in Conference USA bonus play on Sunday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore forward Adrian Rodriguez produced five points and seven rebounds in his first career start. – photo by Joe Alexander

“I think once we started getting stops in the second half, that gave us that little intensity to get back on offense,” Jackson said. “We started making easy shots. I made a couple of shots.

“I got a couple of looks, and they went in. Coach gave me the trust just to go to work. I was kind of hot, and the shots went in.”

For most of the day, Jackson wasn’t his usual self, missing 15 of his first 20 shot attempts and picking up a technical foul mid-way through the second half.

But in a riveting span of 2 minutes and 24 seconds at the end of the game, he hit four three-pointers, sank two free throws, assisted on a basket and made a steal.

Near the end of the explosion, the nation’s second-leading scorer hit threes on consecutive possessions that had the home crowd at the Convocation Center roaring in approval.

On the first one, he drifted into the corner, jab-stepped inside the arc and then stepped back outside the line before drilling the shot.

With the crowd still energized, he did it again with 2:07 left, swishing a 25-footer over 6-foot-10 Makhtar Gueye for a 62-55 lead.

UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez credited Jackson for shooting the ball well under pressure.

“It happens all the time,” said Rodriguez, who started the first game of his career at power forward. “It’s insane. That kid has a lot of talent. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Records

UTSA — 13-16, 7-9
UAB — 17-13, 8-9

What it means

For UTSA, the victory provided a boost to morale after a rough stretch in which the team had lost two straight and five out of seven.

With Jackson shooting poorly for most of the afternoon and some calls from the officiating crew not going their way, the chances for victory going into the last five minutes were not promising.

In that regard, it was an impressive showing to come back and win, and much needed, especially with the final two games of the regular season and the Conference USA tournament looming.

“Players are tired at this point in the season,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Officials are tired. Yeah, you got to stay together. You got to stay focused.

“This was an important win for us, just to get us re-charged. It would have been tough to bounce back (ordinarily) but I’ve been very impressed with our guys’ resiliency.

“I’ve mentioned that, almost every time we come off a loss, our guys have done great with that … We needed this one, for sure.”

Coming up

UTSA at Old Dominion, Wednesday at 6 p.m. Marshall at UTSA, Saturday at 3 p.m. (End of regular season.) UTSA at the Conference USA tournament, March 11-14, at Frisco.

By the numbers

UTSA — Jackson had 28 points on 10 of 26 shooting, including 5 of 6 in the last five minutes. Keaton Wallace added 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Byron Frohnen had three points, four assists and seven rebounds. Rodriguez had five points and seven rebounds.

UAB — Tyreek Scott-Grayson 18 points, eight rebounds. Tavin Lovan, 13 points on 3 of 11 shooting. Will Butler, four points on two of four from the floor. Lovan had 19 points and Butler 18 in a 76-68 victory at UTSA on Jan. 30.

First half recap

Struggling early in the game, Roadrunners tightened up on defense and emerged with a 23-23 tie.

UAB dominated in the opening minutes with a couple of dunks in forging a 9-3 lead. From there, UTSA started playing well, forcing the Blazers into awkward possessions and churning out a 14-0 run.

When Jackson hit a driving layup, the Roadrunners held a 17-9 edge.

Just as fast as the momentum shifted for UTSA, however, the visitors turned it around for themselves.

The Blazers kept Jackson bottled up during a 14-4 spree to produce a 23-21 lead going into the final minute.

Jacob Germany dunked on an alley-oop play for UTSA’s final bucket.

Notable

UTSA shuffled its starting lineup, with Rodriguez getting the start alongside Germany on the front line.

Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson started in the backcourt, along with Frohnen at small forward. Guard Erik Czumbel, a starter at point guard for most of the season, came off the bench and played 25 minutes.

Defensively, UTSA played well, holding UAB to an NCAA Division I opponent-low for scoring this season.

Florida Atlantic starts fast, then holds off UTSA, 80-71

The UTSA Roadrunners traveled to Florida on Thursday night to open a four-game run in Conference USA bonus play.

The FAU Owls sent them home with a frustrating loss.

Starting fast, the Owls surged into a 22-point lead in the first 11 minutes en route to an 80-71 victory over the Roadrunners at Boca Raton.

Down by 23 in the second half, the Roadrunners pulled to within nine in the final two minutes behind a Jhivvan Jackson scoring spree.

But even with Jackson producing 38 points, it wasn’t enough, as UTSA fell to 2-5 in its last seven games.

Michael Forrest drained six shots from beyond the arc and finished with 21 for the Owls.

Records

UTSA 6-9, 12-16
Florida Atlantic 8-8, 16-13

Coming up

UAB at UTSA, Sunday, 2 p.m.

Notable

The Roadrunners close out the regular season with three games, starting with a rematch against the UAB Blazers Sunday at the Convocation Center.

UAB won at the Convo on Jan. 30, beating UTSA 76-68.

In the last few days of the regular season, UTSA travels to meet Old Dominion on March 4. UTSA finishes its regular-season on March 7 at home against Marshall.

At stake down the stretch is improved seeding in the C-USA tournament. Currently, the Roadrunners are 10th.

The C-USA tourney is set for March 11-14 in Frisco, with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

Quotable

“We really got off to a bad, bad start there on both ends of the floor. They were making shots and we weren’t. I thought we were getting some good looks there early. (But) they built the lead and got real, real comfortable.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson, in an interview on the team’s radio broadcast.

UTSA to open bonus play on Feb. 27 at Florida Atlantic

Keaton Wallace. Western Kentucky beat UTSA 77-73 in overtime in Conference USA on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Junior guard Keaton Wallace averages 19 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Roadrunners.

The UTSA Roadrunners will close out their regular-season schedule in bonus play with a four-game set against the FAU Owls, the UAB Blazers, the Old Dominion Monarchs and the Marshall Thundering Herd, the Conference USA office announced Sunday.

UTSA schedule

Thursday, Feb. 27 — UTSA at FAU, 6 p.m.

Comment: An extremely difficult bonus-play opener for the Roadrunners. The Owls had home-court advantage on Jan. 2 in the C-USA opener for both teams, and they used it to run up a big early lead that the Roadrunners couldn’t overcome. FAU won 79-64.

Sunday, March 1 — UAB at UTSA, 2 p.m.

Comment: Another tough game. The Blazers beat the Roadrunners 74-68 in San Antonio on Jan. 31. In doing so, they won the rebounding battle, 46-24. The Blazers also dominated 38-22 in points in the paint and 15-2 in second-chance points.

Wednesday, March 4 — UTSA at Old Dominion, 6 p.m.

Comment: In one of their better efforts this season, the Roadrunners beat the Monarchs 85-81 in overtime at Norfolk on Feb. 6 behind Jhivvan Jackson’s season-high 45 points. The Roadrunners will need to do a better job in the rematch on Malik Curry, who scored 30, and A.J. Oliver, who added 20.

Saturday, March 7 — Marshall at UTSA, 3 p.m.

Comment: Didn’t we just see these guys? Yes. The Roadrunners won at home, beating the Thundering Herd 72-63 four days ago. Both teams shot poorly, with the Roadrunners at 30 percent and the Herd at 33 percent. UTSA won the game at the free-throw line, with the Roadrunners 21 of 26 against the Herd’s 11 of 19.

Tournament time

The C-USA tournament will be played March 11-14 in Frisco, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

To earn the automatic bid for the program’s first NCAA appearance since 2011, the Roadrunners will need to win four games in four days.