The Florida Atlantic University Owls shut down high-scoring Jhivvan Jackson, raced to a 24-point lead in the second half and then held off the UTSA Roadrunners 79-64 Thursday night at home in Boca Raton.
In the Conference USA opener for both teams, the Owls held Jackson to a season-low eight points on 3 of 18 shooting.
Junior forward Jailyn Ingram led FAU with with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Keaton Wallace scored 27 for UTSA.
After trailing twice by 19 points in the first half, the Roadrunners made it an 11-point game at halftime and cut it to nine in the opening moments after intermission.
But after that, they suffered their worst shooting drought in weeks, missing 15 field goal attempts in a row.
Meanwhile, Richardson Maitre knocked down a pair of three-point shots mid-way through the half, boosting the FAU lead to 65-41.
The Roadrunners battled back to within 70-60 on a Wallace three with 1:21 left, but they couldn’t get any closer.
UTSA 6-8, 0-1
FAU 9-5, 1-0
UTSA at Florida International, in Miami, on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Jackson entered the game averaging 26.2 points, good for second in the nation. He hit his first shot of the game, a three, and then he misfired on his next seven field goal attempts. He closed the first half 2 of 12.
UTSA coach Steve Henson, in his post-game radio interview on The Ticket, addressed Jackson’s early struggles. “A couple of those were forced. I thought he got fouled on one or two of ’em. I thought he was attacking. Driving and popping up. But he just couldn’t get it going.”
Florida Atlantic came out hitting shots from everywhere, at one time knocking down 15 of 21 in one stretch early in the first half.
Some of the 15-bucket barrage was a surprise, as backup center Aleksandar Zecevich sank three of them, and sub-40 percent shooters Everett Winchester and Jaylen Sebree hit two apiece.
Henson: “They jumped right on us. We just couldn’t get shots to fall … They had some guys who normally don’t shoot perimeter jumpers (who) made some shots. Yeah, they jumped all over us. You could just see their confidence. Everyone was feeling good for them. We just couldn’t get it going.”