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 guard Jhivvan Jackson photo gallery

UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson broke the Roadrunners' all-time season and career scoring records during his junior year. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson broke the Roadrunners’ all-time season and career scoring records during his junior year.

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson was named to the Conference USA men’s basketball player all-conference first team on Monday.

The junior from Puerto Rico led the conference in scoring and finished the regular season No. 2 in the NCAA with 27.2 points per game.

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.

UTSA vs. Marshall senior day photo gallery

UTSA seniors Atem Bior (23) and Byron Frohnen (3) were honored Saturday at their final home game at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA seniors Atem Bior (23) and Byron Frohnen (3) were honored Saturday at their final home game at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson scored 37 points but UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners’ final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center.

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.

UTSA vs. UAB photo gallery

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.

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.

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.