AAC men’s tournament: UTSA’s season comes to an end with a first-round loss to Temple

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Trailing by 14 points at halftime, the UTSA Roadrunners rallied to contest an American Athletic Conference first-round tournament game, battling with the Temple Owls into the final minute. But in the final seconds, they couldn’t get a three-pointer to fall, missing twice, and their season came to an end.

Christian Tucker. Temple beat UTSA 84-82 in the Roadrunners' final home game of the men's basketball season on Sunday, March 10, 2024 at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Christian Tucker produced a team-high 15 points and passed for four assists against the Temple Owls. – File photo by Joe Alexander

The Owls escaped with a 64-61 victory.

A poor first-half performance doomed the Roadrunners. They couldn’t get their offense rolling, hitting only 24 percent from the field and shooting only 1 for 13 from three-point distance. They were playing without injured leading scorer Jordan Ivy-Curry, so nothing came easily.

UTSA played hard in the second half, winning the 20-minute segment, 40-29. Christian Tucker led the charge with his floor leadership, ball-handling and passing. They had a couple of opportunities to take the lead down the stretch and were denied each time.

The final minute was hectic. Hysier Miller drained a three for Temple with 49.6 seconds remaining, boosting the Owls into a 64-58 lead. The Roadrunners answered almost immediately, with PJ Carter hitting a three of his own with 41.9 seconds left.

At the end, UTSA’s defense kept Temple from scoring, eventually forcing Miller into an over-and-back violation at halfcourt with 18 seconds left. With the ball on the side, the Roadrunners worked it first to Carter, who fired a three that was rebounded under the bucket by Carlton Linguard, Jr.

Linguard Jr. flipped it out to Tucker, who passed to Isaiah Wyatt at the top of the circle. With Miller contesting, Wyatt’s shot was off the mark, ending the Roadrunners’ season with an 11-21 record.

It was the third straight 20-loss season for the Roadrunners.

The Owls, who went 3-0 against the Roadrunners this season, will move on to play the sixth-seeded SMU Mustangs Thursday night. All games are being played at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.

Steve Henson. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson said after the game that he expects to speak with athletic director Lisa Campos soon. His contract expires at the end of the month. – File Photo by Joe Alexander

Afterward, UTSA coach Steve Henson addressed questions about his future. Since his contract expires at the end of the month, it’s been a topic of discussion in his last two post-game news conferences. He said Wednesday that he hasn’t talked to his athletic director about the contract.

Even though the stakes were high for the Roadrunners in the tournament, Henson said Ivy-Curry just couldn’t play.

“Juice injured his arm/shoulder against SMU, very end of the (SMU) game (on March 2),” he said. “It was extremely swollen. We had a week off after that one, I think. We had several day days off, anyway, and he tried to get a ton of treatment and tried to practice a little bit. We put him in the game on Sunday (at home against Temple) and he was pretty immobile.

“His arm’s extremely swollen up, and he just couldn’t contribute the way he wanted to and the pain was continuing to increase. It’s really hard to get the swelling out of there, so he just wasn’t able to play.”

Noting that the first-half performance just wasn’t good enough, Henson nevertheless said he was proud of his players.

“In the first half, just offensively we couldn’t get anything going,” he said. “We really struggled on the offensive end. We held ’em to 40 percent from the field. We won enough battles on that end. We just couldn’t get anything going. They were physical with us.

“And then at halftime we kind of flipped it. We started executing better, we started defending much better, and kind of turned the tables on ’em a little bit, made a nice run there.”

In each of the last two seasons, the Roadrunners have lost close games in their conference tournament openers. Last year in Frisco, it was a one-point loss to the Rice Owls at the Conference USA tournament. Japhet Medor hit a shot at the end that would have won the game, but it was waved off on review. This year, it was an equally gut-wrenching one-possession game at the end against the Temple Owls.

“Just extremely disappointed,” Henson said. “The nature of post-season play, it just ends. You’re out there and you’re fighting your tails off and guys are in the huddle playing with a lot of emotion, talking with a lot of emotion, rallying each other, pumping each other, and then that horn goes
off and it’s over. So it’s a very disappointing feeling.”

UTSA lost 10 players to the transfer portal last spring and replaced them with 10 more signees. As a result, coaches started work last summer with almost an entirely different group. The Roadrunners were good at times on the offensive end. But on the defensive end, they were erratic, though they did play well defensively in a four-game stretch at the end of the regular season.

But then on Sunday, they took to their home floor in the regular-season finale against Temple with a less-than-100 percent Ivy-Curry, and got beat 84-82. The loss was costly. If they had won, they would have had another day to rest before they started the tournament. Instead, they had to play on the first day, and now it’s over.

“Our whole thing this last three weeks has been believe, and we didn’t give up (today),” said Tucker, who finished with 15 points and four assists. “We knew that we (could) compete with this team. We didn’t do enough of it in the first half and we knew we had to bounce back in the second half, so we just came out fighting. I mean, we won the second half, but we dug ourselves into too deep of a hole.”

Freshman guard Zion Stanford paced Temple with a game-high 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting.


Taking advantage of an injury to UTSA’s leading scorer, the Temple Owls built a double-digit lead in the first six minutes of the game, hiked the advantage to 16 with 3:20 remaining and then went into the dressing room with a 35-21 edge.

UTSA’s Jordan Ivy-Curry, a 17.1 points per game scorer, was on the bench in a T-shirt to start the game. Ruled out for the game with a shoulder injury, his status for the remainder of the tournament is unclear.

Regardless, the Roadrunners missed his presence. They opened the game hitting only 1 of their first 11 shots. Late in the half, they misfired on 10 in a row. For the first 20 minutes, the Roadrunners were 9 of 37 from the field for 24.3 percent.

The Owls, one of the worst teams in the AAC all season, started fast with a 13-3 lead.

But in the middle of the half, their own poor shooting allowed the Roadrunners to stay in the game. Finally, the Owls put some things together and scored seven straight points. With the burst, they opened a 33-17 lead with with 3:20 remaining.

Guard Zion Stanford led the Owls with three of five shooting for a team-high eight points in the half. Jordan Riley and Matteo Picarelli had six points apiece. Point guard Hysier Miller, a high-level scorer, played mostly in a set-up role.

He finished the half with three points and four rebounds, scoring only four points.

With Ivy-Curry sidelined, the Roadrunners needed PJ Carter to step up his game. But the Owls knew they needed him, as well, blanketing him with coverage even on the perimeter. Carter was 2 for 9 in the half for five points.


The UTSA Roadrunners men’s basketball team opened play in the American Athletic Conference tournament today without injured Jordan Ivy-Curry, the team’s leading scorer.

Fourteenth-seeded UTSA and No. 11 Temple just got underway at Dickie’s Arena in Fort Worth.

The Roadrunners started the tournament without both Ivy-Curry (shoulder) and Adante’ Holiman (lower leg).

Temple defeated UTSA twice this season. The Owls won 83-77 on Feb. 18 in Philadelphia and won again 84-82 in the regular season finale Sunday in San Antonio. Both finished with 5-13 records in conference play.


UTSA 11-21
Temple 13-19


Eighth-year UTSA coach Steve Henson is facing questions about whether he might have coached his last game with Roadrunners. His contract expires at the end of this month, and he’s had three straight 20-loss seasons.

Henson said he hasn’t had any contract discussions with athletic director Lisa Campos.

“We’ve just been — had our heads down, grinding away, trying to get better. Loved the way our guys played at the end of the season. Lisa and I always talk at the conclusion of the season, so I’m sure we’ll do that again in this case.”

For Henson, it was the second time in his UTSA career that he entered a postseason game without an injured leading scorer. In 2018, guard Jhivvan Jackson sat out four games — two in the Conference USA tournament and two in the CollegeInsider.com tournament — with a knee injury.

Even with Jackson out of the lineup at the end, the Roadrunners finished off a 20-15 season, and Henson was named the C-USA Coach of the Year.

Temple played UTSA twice within the last week under a cloud of suspicion.

Gaming monitors at U.S. Integrity flagged the Owls’ 28-point home loss to UAB on March 7 for irregularities on the betting line in the hours before the game.

Owls coach Adam Fisher side-stepped a question about whether he has addressed the situation with the team, telling reporters in Fort Worth, “I know our university has put out a statement. My focus is on my players.

“I love my guys. We’ve been just trying to prepare for each game and just making sure we do exactly what we’ve done to prepare for each one.”

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