Feeling disrespected: UTSA men open AAC play at home tonight

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners will play their inaugural American Athletic Conference game in men’s basketball tonight, intent on re-casting a narrative that has bothered them for months.

Jordan Ivy-Curry had 22 points and eight assists off the bench for UTSA in a 103-89 men's basketball victory over Prairie View A&M on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry has averaged 11.7 points, 5.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds in three games since he was activated. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Projected for a last-place finish in the official AAC preseason poll, the Roadrunners (6-7) will host the UAB Blazers (8-5). Tipoff is at 8 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“It’s a motivation thing,” UTSA guard Jordan Ivy-Curry said. “We’ve been picked last. That’s not our goal. I feel like they’re disrespecting us. I feel like we’re going to build off that. We’re going to motivate. We’re not going to get down. We’re going to keep moving forward.”

Recently-activated, Ivy-Curry has supplied a spark to the Roadrunners. The junior from La Marque, in his third game of the season, scored 22 points and passed for eight assists last Thursday night in a 103-89 victory over the Prairie View A&M Panthers.

All told, UTSA has lost two games and has won one since Ivy-Curry returned. But it easily could have been 2-1 for the Roadrunners considering they led for most of a game on the road at Oregon State before getting beat by one point in the final seconds.

After dropping the 66-65 decision to OSU, UTSA returned home and played perhaps its poorest game of the year in a 63-53 loss to Army.

Ivy-Curry struggled against the Black Knights, hitting only one for seven from the field and passing for one assist. But against Prairie View, the 6-foot-3 guard was on his game, making making seven of 11 shots while also creating for his teammates.

In three games, Ivy-Curry has averaged 11.7 points, 5.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds.

With the player nicknamed “Juice” in the lineup, the Roadrunners are clearly better equipped to match up with teams in the AAC. And yet, it’s possible that they also might be going through an adjustment phase in how they mesh his talents into their overall scheme.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said, overall, Ivy-Curry has handled the transition well.

“You have to give him a lot of credit,” Henson said. “He handled the first game very well. At Oregon State, (he) jumped in there and passed the ball, distributed the ball. He was not hunting shots. He’s a very good scorer. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to score the basketball.

“(But) I think he understood other guys had been playing (and we were) fairly deep into the season. I think He understood that he needed to make a good impact by doing other things in that ball game. The next two games, he really distributed the ball again. You know, his assist numbers are terrific now.”

Ivy-Curry has been practicing with the team since the summer when he transferred in from the University of the Pacific.

After starting his career at UTSA, moving to Pacific and then moving back, he was one of dozens of players nationwide who was deemed a “multi-time” transfer. He knew when he arrived in the summer that he would likely have to sit out the year as part of the NCAA transfer rule, which has been set aside in the wake of a court case challenging its legality.

Ineligible one day, eligible the next. Ivy-Curry and the Roadrunners have done their best to roll with it.

“I think he’s handled it very well,” Henson said. “You knew that (his presence) would impact someone or maybe more than one guy in terms of minutes or role. But that’s just the nature of it. I think he’s handled it pretty well. I think his teammates have handled it pretty well. I don’t think right now, there’s not much adjusting left.”

Led by fourth-year coach Andy Kennedy, the Blazers are coming off seasons of 22, 27 and 29 victories, respectively. The Blazers also finished in the top tier of Conference USA each season, winning 13, 14 and 14 games. Last season, they went 29-10 and 14-6 and then rolled to the finals of the NIT, where they lost to North Texas in the finals.

The Blazers have won five of six meetings, including four straight, against the Roadrunners during Kennedy’s tenure. Though this year’s squad will not have high-scoring Jordan “Jelly” Walker, who was in the Dallas Mavericks’ camp last fall before getting waived, UAB will come in with a talented squad featuring 6-2 point guard Eric Gaines.

While UAB is expected to finish in the upper division in the AAC, UTSA isn’t getting nearly as much attention at the moment. Tonight, however, the Roadrunners will get their first chance to start making some noise. To drive the narrative in another direction.

“We all have that chip on our shoulders,” forward Trey Edmonds said. “But, with us, we constantly have to be reminded of that. Like, OK. Remember what we’re here for. Remember that. This is the reality of the situation. The reality is, we’re not supposed to be doing anything.

“A lot of people think we’re not even supposed to be in this conference.”


UAB 8-5
UTSA 6-7

Coming up

UAB at UTSA, tonight at 8
UTSA at Rice, Saturday, 2 p.m.

AAC Standings

Memphis 11-2
Florida Atlantic 10-3
Tulane 9-3
Tulsa 9-3
SMU 9-4
South Florida 7-4
UAB 8-5
Wichita State 8-5
North Texas 7-5
East Carolina 7-6
Temple 7-6
Charlotte 6-6
Rice 6-7
UTSA 6-7

Tonight’s schedule

East Carolina at FAU, 6 p.m.; UAB at UTSA, 8 p.m.; Charlotte at SMU, 8 p.m.

NET ratings/AAC teams
Through games of Jan. 1, 2024

18. Florida Atlantic
40. Memphis
47. SMU
94. North Texas
107. Wichita State
112. Charlotte
126. Tulane
160. South Florida
189. Tulsa
201. Temple
215. UAB
225. Rice
239. East Carolina
289. UTSA

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