By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
One of the new members of the American Athletic Conference will play against one of the old guard tonight at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla. The UTSA Roadrunners are looking for a road victory against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Both teams are struggling. UTSA (7-10, 1-3)) has lost two straight and six of its last eight. Tulsa (9-7, 0-4) has dropped four in a row, all in the AAC. At the same time, both squads will send out players capable of pushing the pace and scoring at a high rate.
UTSA has guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, who is averaging 16.9 points in seven games since he became eligible, in addition to Christian Tucker, Dre Fuller Jr., Carlton Linguard Jr. Tulsa will counter with the likes of PJ Haggerty, Cobe Williams and Isaiah Barnes.
It’s a critical time of the season for the Roadrunners, who have played well at times but have failed to generate much consistency. For instance, they led for much of the game at 15th-ranked Memphis on Jan. 10 and then lost 107-101 in overtime.
In their next outing, they returned home on Saturday and couldn’t get the offense cranked up in a 66-58 loss to the Charlotte 49ers, another indication that the Roadrunners tend to play sub-par basketball when the opposing team takes the posture of a slower pace.
To generate momentum, the Roadrunners need to play well tonight, because they will host a 2023 Final Four entry, the Florida Atlantic Owls, on Sunday. They’ll play host to another strong team from the AAC, the Tulane Green Wave, on Jan. 24.
Coached by Eric Konkol, a former UTSA nemesis when he worked at Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs like to run with Haggerty, Williams and Barnes leading the team in scoring. Konkol, in his second season with the Golden Hurricane, struggled in his first year in Tulsa with a 5-25 record, including 1-17 in conference.
Konkol, a former Tulsa student assistant, had his team off to a 9-3 start this season before adversity struck.
The Golden Hurricane suffered a setback on Jan. 2 when it was announced that high-scoring guard Keaston Willis was lost for the season with a broken bone in his left foot. Willis, who played in San Antonio at the University of the Incarnate Word from 2019-21, is expected to seek a medical redshirt to return in 2024-25.
Tulsa has since lost to Memphis, East Carolina, Charlotte and Tulane. Three of the losses were by seven points or less. In its last game, played at home on Sunday, the Golden Hurricane played well but fell to Tulane 94-87 in overtime.
Haggerty, a 6-foot-3 freshman from Crosby, Texas, scored 25 points. He also had five assists and two steals.
UTSA 7-10, 1-3
Tulsa 9-7, 0-4
Florida Atlantic at UTSA, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Tulane at UTSA, Jan. 24, 7 p.m.
UTSA at South Florida, Jan. 27, 3 p.m.