USTA vs. UAB: Friday photo gallery

Jacob Germany. UAB beat UTSA 64-57 on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Conference USA action at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany had 13 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in UTSA’s loss to UAB on Friday.

UAB beat UTSA 64-57 on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Conference USA action at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UTSA’s Jackson credits teammates, coaches for career scoring achievement

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson expressed surprise this week when he learned that he had become the leading career scorer in NCAA Division I among players born in Latin America. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Like any young man with dreams, record-setting UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson has faced challenges.

One of the biggest came when he was growing up in Puerto Rico, and he knew he wanted to move to the U.S. mainland to further his ambitions as a basketball player.

To make the move effectively, Jackson had to learn how to speak English.

“My parents already knew my dream was to play college basketball,” he said. “In P.R., the school that I was going to, for two or three grades I went to bilingual school so already all my classes were in English down there. The only class I was taking in Spanish was an actual Spanish class.

“My parents, they knew at one point I wanted to come out here. They kind of wanted me to, early on, learn English. Like I say, I went to that bilingual school for a couple of years, and that got me right. I watched a lot of TV, and then when I moved for seventh grade I already knew English. I wasn’t fluent. You know, I had a strong accent. But I understood it.”

Jackson made the move to Texas. He went on to attend Euless Trinity High, where he became one of the best ball players in the Dallas area.

“It was a little challenging, obviously, but after a couple years, after eighth grade, I was already good,” he said. “I’m good at learning language. Like I said, I already had schooling and knew how it was. It was all about writing it and taking the accent away a little bit. But, everything was smooth. Like I said, my dad helped me with that. He did it with me and my brother. That got us better.”

As a basketball player, Jackson continues to improve.

He entered UTSA as a freshman for the 2017-18 season with high hopes but no guarantees. In that time, he has led the Roadrunners to winning records in three of four seasons.

Jackson has also created a splash with his offensive production, averaging 18.4 points as a freshman, followed by seasons of 22.9 and 26.8. This year, he’s averaging 20.4 as UTSA continues its quest for an NCAA tournament bid.

An important step comes tonight when the Roadrunners host the UAB Blazers. The Blazers, with 18 wins on the season, remain as one of the best teams in Conference USA despite having lost three of their last four in conference play.

As usual, UTSA coach Steve Henson will call on Jackson and fellow senior standout Keaton Wallace to step up to meet the moment. The two had power knocked out in their apartment last week during the winter storm. But they’ll be ready. It’s perhaps their last weekend at home, so the expectation is that they’ll put some pressure on the Blazers. Quite a bit of pressure, probably.

Leroy Jackson, the ball player’s father, said basketball drives his son.

“He’s very dedicated toward it,” Jackson said. “Since he was a kid, he was always that way. Always. He loves working out. Basketball takes him away from everything that’s negative. That’s a sacred time for him.”

Ultimately, Jackson wants the NCAA tournament bid and he wants it badly.

Along the way, though, the spotlight will continue to shine on him because of his scoring prowess. Last year, he became the school’s all-time scoring leader. Two weeks ago, he moved into the Top 100 in all-time career scoring in NCAA Division I.

Earlier this week, he learned that he had become the top career scorer in Division I history among athletes who were born in Latin America. Jackson (with 2,461 points) has passed the likes of J.J. Barea, Greivis Vasquez, Luis Flores, Felipe Lopez, Khadeen Carrington and Rolando Blackman on the list.

Barea is a Puerto Rico native who played in college at Northeastern. Blackman came out of Panama and played years ago at Kansas State. Both enjoyed long NBA careers. Blackman, in fact, was an NBA all-star four times.

Jackson said it’s “crazy” to think about what he has accomplished.

“Some of those players are players I kind of look up to a little bit or have seen play growing up,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy that I passed them. But, obviously, all the credit goes to my hard work, my teammates and my coaches. They really were the ones that trusted me and put me in those positions to be the player that I am right now.”

Coming up

UAB at UTSA, today, 6 p.m.
UAB at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.
C-USA tournament, March 9-13, at Frisco

Records

UAB 18-5, 10-4
UTSA 12-9, 8-6

Scoring honors

Here is the list of athletes born Latin America who have been identified in the top seven in Division I career scoring:

Jhivvan Jackson, born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, scored 2,461 points at UTSA, through 2021.

J.J. Barea, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, 2,290, at Northeastern, through 2006.

Greivis Vasquez, Caracas, Venezuela, 2,171, at Maryland, through 2010.

Luis Flores, San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, 2,160, at Rutgers and Manhattan, through 2004.

Felipe Lopez, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1,927, at St. John’s, through 1998.

Khadeen Carrington, Trinidad, 1,846, at Seton Hall, through 2018.

Rolando Blackman, Panama City, Panama, 1,844, at Kansas State, through 1981.

Wallace’s coach in high school recalls a fierce work ethic

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace has emerged as the No. 2 all-time scorer at UTSA leading into perhaps his last two home games this weekend. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Riding on a bus down a West Texas highway earlier this week, Abilene High School basketball coach Justin Reese and his team were en route to a playoff game in Fort Stockton against El Paso Eastwood.

As anyone who has traveled through that part of the state knows, Reese had some time on his hands to do some things, such as return a phone call.

There was a voice message left on his office phone back in Abilene, an inquiry from a reporter about one of his former players, Keaton Wallace. So Reese dialed the number and started to field a few questions.

At an earlier stage of his career, when he coached the Richardson High School Eagles, Reese had the good fortune to watch Wallace grow as a player, from middle school to high school varsity and, ultimately, to college prospect.

The experience left an impression on the coach, who remembers the days fondly. Asked to recount the best memories, Reese started to unwind a few of them, stories that evolved into a 20-minute call.

“Well I have a lot of great memories of Keaton and his whole family,” the coach said. “You know, Keaton is one of the really special kids that I’ve ever coached. He comes from a great family. Mike and Kim (Keaton’s father and mother) are great people. And his younger brother, Cason, I just think the world of them.”

Today, the prospect Reese coached as a high school senior in 2016-17 has fully realized his potential as a college athlete. Wallace, a UTSA senior, is preparing for what likely are his last two home games with the Roadrunners.

With UTSA set to play a pair of Conference USA contests against the UAB Blazers, one on Friday night and the finale on Saturday afternoon, the Roadrunners clearly have benefited in every way from Wallace’s presence.

He has scored more points (1,964) than any other player in the program’s 40-year history except for Jhivvan Jackson (2,461). With Jackson and Wallace in the same backcourt for the past four years, UTSA emerged as one of the most entertaining offensive shows in the C-USA.

UTSA coaches admit that the two have surpassed even their own expectations. But it was interesting to hear Reese say in a telephone interview that he was not surprised at Wallace’s progression. From his experience, it’s like he knows now that it’s better never to underestimate the one-time “scrawny” middle schooler.

“I can remember my first memory of Keaton,” Reese said. “You see him now and he’s this tall, lanky, 6-3, athletic shooter. But I remember Keaton in middle school. At the feeder middle school as a little scrawny 5-2, 110-pound eighth grader who was just tiny but could handle it. Could just shoot it and had great vision. And could just do anything you wanted with the basketball.

“He was 5-1, 5-2, 5-4 going into eighth and ninth grade but he was starting to get the long arms. You could see that if he ever grew, he was going to be really, really good,” Reese said. “For his whole life, he just had great skills. Great ball handling skills. And shooting. He had great vision. You know, I can remember, as a junior, he really took the next step for us in high school.

“He kind of hit his growth spurt and got his confidence.”

Looking back, Reese said he was fortunate to have both Wallace and Brandon Averette (now at BYU) in 2015-16. Averette was a senior that year, and Wallace was a fast-rising prospect as a junior.

“We really had two of the best guards in the state,” he said.

Once Averette graduated, Wallace took charge. It was as if Wallace would not be denied.

“He’d go through a two-hour practice with us and then he’d go home and get some strength training in,” Reese said. “Then he’d go to the gym with his cousin, Terrel Harris, and then go do workouts for an hour or an hour and a half. Just, work on shooting and ball handling. He would do that every day.

“So, that summer before his senior year, I would watch him every day in open gym, in the skill workouts, and I knew. Somebody was about to get a steal in college. Sure enough, he got some offers.”

One moment in Wallace’s senior year at Richardson stands out for Reese. In January of 2017, Richardson hosted what Reese remembered as a No. 1-ranked and undefeated Dallas Skyline team, with Kansas-bound guard Marcus Garrett. The game went to overtime and Richardson emerged with an overtime victory. With Garrett guarding him, Wallace scored 35.

“We just put the ball in Keaton’s hands all game, and we got out of the way, and we just let him make plays for us,” Reese said. “Over and over and over. That was Skyline’s only loss all season until they lost at the state tournament in San Antonio. That was a special, special memory for Keaton and our program. It just shows you what a competitor he was.”

A few months later, Wallace signed with the Roadrunners. Looking back, Reese had a feeling that Wallace would turn into a good college ball player. But, 2,000 points good?

“UTSA was a great fit for him,” Reese said. “But it’s all about Keaton and his work ethic. So, anything he does, anything he’s done at UTSA, doesn’t surprise me a bit.”

Determined to keep winning, UTSA prepares for UAB

Steve Henson. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners have won four straight and seven of their last eight going into a weekend home series against the UAB Blazers. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson said Wednesday afternoon in a zoom call with reporters that the UTSA Roadrunners’ two Conference USA home games against the UAB Blazers this weekend likely would be the team’s last games in the regular season.

They’re set for Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

In addition, Henson said he expects the games also will be the last two at home in the remarkable careers of Roadrunners seniors Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, the leading scorers in the program’s 40-year history.

Both Jackson and Wallace told reporters they have not made a decision on whether they might take advantage of an extra year of eligibility. Before the season, all Division I basketball players were given an extra year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even so, Henson said he plans on having “Senior Day” festivities on Saturday for Jackson, Wallace and also for forward Phoenix Ford. The coach was asked how “Senior Day” might be different with the lingering possibility that one or both of his high-scoring guards could return.

“I think we’ll go through it as if it’s their last game and worry about it after that,” Henson said. “The guys, right now, they’re focused on continuing to play (into the tournament). We started talking about this weeks ago — the opportunity to start winning games, to play better basketball.

“At one point, we knew four of our final six were going to be at home. That we could go into the conference tournament with some momentum. So, they liked that.

“What we did yesterday in practice was really, really encouraging. Just from different guys making plays. The ball moving. I think our guys are pretty locked in right now. There’s always that emotional piece on Senior Night, right before the game starts. (But) our guys are still planning on playing basketball for awhile.”

UTSA hasn’t played since Feb. 13. On that day, the Roadrunners completed a two-game, home sweep of the Florida Atlantic Owls, pushing their winning streak to four. A day later, a few players came in to shoot at the Convocation Center, but with cold and inclement weather on the way, the campus was scheduled to close at 5 p.m.

As it turned out, a week of the worst winter weather in South Texas in years descended from cold, gray skies, leading to power outages all over the city.
The UTSA basketball team was not spared.

Some players — notably, roommates Wallace and Jackson — had power go out in their apartments. From a basketball standpoint, the inclement weather kept the Roadrunners off the practice floor through Thursday. Ultimately, the team’s two road games, set for Friday and Saturday at Charlotte, N.C., were scrapped.

It was a blow to the fast-improving Roadrunners, who have won seven of their last eight conference games.

“We wanted to go down there and play,” Henson said. “We just couldn’t make it happen.”

Coming up

UAB at UTSA, Friday, 6 p.m.
UAB at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.
Conference USA tournament, at Frisco, March 10-13

Records

UAB 18-5, 10-4
UTSA 12-9, 8-6

Notes

Before the season, C-USA officials left open the first week of March — next week — for any make-up games. Even so, the two games between UTSA and Charlotte likely will not be played, Henson said, because Charlotte’s end-of-week schedule is full. The 49ers are scheduled to play Covid-related makeups on the road at Marshall on March 5 and 6.

“The chances of us playing Charlotte are slim and none,” said Henson, who added that the likely cancellations have created a “pretty weird situation for us” leading into the C-USA tournament.

“We’ll go 24 days with only two games — these UAB games — in that window there, which is less than ideal,” Henson said. “So we’re still trying to find something for next week. (We’ll) see if we can schedule a game or two. I’d really not prefer to go such a long span with only two games in there. But at this point, as of right now, the UAB games will be our last regular-season games.”

Senior Day emotions

Jackson has scored 2,461 points and Wallace 1,964. Jackson has twice been first-team all-C-USA. Wallace, in turn, has been second-team all-C-USA twice. The Roadrunners have built their program around them, which means that Saturday likely will be an emotional day.

“I’ll probably be as emotional as anybody, with the exception of some of the family members,” Henson said. “Keaton’ll probably be pretty stone-faced. That’s kind of his M.O., anyway. Jhivvan will be emotional, I think.

“Once the ball gets tipped, I think they’ll play great. It’s unfortunate that we can’t have an arena full of fans come and honor them in that regard. We’re going to honor Phoenix, as well. Those guys have done a great job. Great ambassadors for our program.”

With Covid restrictions, attendance will be limited.

“Keaton and Jhivvan helped us turn this thing around,” the coach said. “Got the attention of everyone around the country, everyone around the league. Really proud of them. It’s amazing the accomplishments they’ve had. Wish we could celebrate it in more grand style. But we’ll do the best we can with Covid.”

Henson is approaching the games against the Blazers as if they’re as if they’re the last ones at home for his two stars.

“My anticipation is that they have accomplished so much, I anticipate they’re ready to move on,” the coach said. “They love it here, and we’re glad they do, and we love having them here, but they both have sights set on winning a bunch more games here and then going and playing professionally. We haven’t spent a lot of time on the details with the scholarship numbers, or anything like that.”

Jackson has boosted UTSA’s profile in Latin America

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Southern Miss 78-72 in Conference USA action at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

Is UTSA senior Jhivvan Jackson the No. 1 Latin American-born scorer in NCAA Division I history? Apparently so, based on a review of online records by The JB Replay. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

Jhivvan Jackson has supplied so many thrills for fans of the UTSA Roadrunners in the past four seasons, it’s hard to quantify his impact on the program.

Paired with Keaton Wallace, the duo always gives UTSA a chance to win. It’s always worth it to come out and watch the two of them, because there’s always a chance for something special to happen.

Jackson, particularly, brings a skill level unmatched in the school’s 40-year basketball history.

He’s got the ability to shoot the long ball or the pull-up floater. Jackson on a mad-dash to the hoop is something to see. Now, if he can team with Wallace and friends to reach the NCAA tournament in a few weeks, then that certainly would boost his stature as one of the program’s most important players.

If he reaches the NBA some day, that, too, would solidify his standing — along with Derrick Gervin and Devin Brown — as an athlete that fans will talk about for the next 40 years.

Clearly, Jackson already has left an indelible mark on Roadrunners basketball, and part of it has to do with bringing in new followers.

For fans of the game south of the United States, UTSA’s profile is pretty high right now. People are watching. Why? Because, from what I can tell, the 6-foot native of Puerto Rico has scored more points in his college career than any other Latin American-born NCAA Division I player in history.

Based upon online research at websites such as sports-reference.com and basketball.realgm.com, along with assistance from NCAA statisticians and member schools, Jackson ranks No. 1 on this unofficial list compiled recently by The JB Replay.

Here is the list:

Jhivvan Jackson, born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, scored 2,461 points at UTSA, through 2021.

Puerto Rico native J.J. Barea scored 2,290 points in college for the Northeastern Huskies in Boston. He later went on to enjoy a 14-year career in the NBA, 11 of them with the Dallas Mavericks. — Photo, courtesy of Northeastern University athletics

J.J. Barea, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, 2,290, at Northeastern, through 2006.

Greivis Vasquez, Caracas, Venezuela, 2,171, at Maryland, through 2010.

Luis Flores, San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, 2,160, at Rutgers and Manhattan, through 2004.

Felipe Lopez, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1,927, at St. John’s, through 1998.

Khadeen Carrington, Trinidad, 1,846, at Seton Hall, through 2018.

Rolando Blackman, Panama City, Panama, 1,844, at Kansas State, through 1981.

Once again, this is by no means an official list on file at the NCAA. Neither is it found on any website that I have seen. It’s just something I’ve researched for the past few weeks based on my coverage of the game since the late 1970s.

Taking one last step in my little project, I messaged the NCAA office that handles basketball statistics.

Dominican Republic native Luis Flores (No. 3) started his career at Rutgers, transferred to Manhattan and finished his career with 2,160 points. — Photo, courtesy of Manhattan athletics

Recently, the NCAA responded by sending out my query into a forum that is seen by information directors around the country. In my query, I asked if anyone could supplement my research with knowledge of a player (or players) from Latin America who had scored at least 1,800 points in NCAA Division I.

My query turned up two names — Vasquez and Carrington — that I did not have on the preliminary list. If I get more names and information, I’ll update accordingly.

So, today, I wanted to push out the story, because this coming week may be the last time we will ever see Jackson and Wallace (1,964 points) play at the Convocation Center. The Roadrunners host the UAB Blazers on Friday night and Saturday afternoon in what likely are the last two regular-season games of the season.

Felipe Lopez scored 1,927 points for St. John’s University and was a first-round pick in the 1998 NBA draft by the Spurs, who traded him — along with veteran Carl Herrera — to the Vancouver Grizzles for Antonio Daniels. — Photo, courtesy of St. John’s athletics

A few weeks ago, I asked Jackson’s father, Leroy Jackson, about his son’s emergence as one of the top scorers in Division I history. Jhivvan is 86th on the all-time list and is second in Conference USA.

“I can’t even put it into words,” said Leroy Jackson, a former professional player who works now for American Airlines in Dallas.

Leroy transferred in his job from Puerto Rico to the Metro-Plex in 2008. An older son followed in 2009, setting the stage for Jhivvan to make the move in 2010 for his seventh-grade year. Already advanced as a player at a young age, Jhivvan went on to star at Euless Trinity High School.

At UTSA, Jhivvan has continued to progress. He’s made first-team, All-Conference USA the past two years. Last year, he led the C-USA in scoring and ranked second in the nation at 26.8 points per game.

His father, a native of Panama who played collegiately at Oregon State and professionally for 15 years, mostly in Latin America, said he is not surprised at the trend. “No, I’m not,” he said. “And I know he can do more.”

Rolando Blackman, from Panama City, Panama, scored 1,844 points at Kansas State through 1981. He did it without the 3-point shot, which didn’t come into play in the NCAA until the late 1980s. Blackman played 13 seasons in the NBA — 11 with the Dallas Mavericks — and made four all-star teams. — Photo, courtesy of Kansas State athletics

Leroy said the basketball communities in both Puerto Rico and Panama have taken notice of his son’s achievements. After all, the family is prominent in Latin American basketball circles. Jhivvan’s maternal grandfather, Flor Melendez, is a prominent coach in Puerto Rico. Leroy himself played professionally in Puerto Rico for years.

But even with the hype, Leroy said Jhivvan isn’t thinking now about the headlines he makes or the impact he is having back home.

“Jhivvan thinks, ‘I got a lot more to do, a lot more to do to get better,’ ” Leroy Jackson said. “(He says) ‘I got a lot more work to get done.’ … I say, ‘All these kids from Puerto Rico, when they hear your name, they know who you are … I’m from Panama, and I know a lot of people from Panama follow him.

“I tell him, ‘You don’t pay a lot of attention to it. But a lot of people love your game. A lot of people follow you. A lot of people enjoy watching your highlights.’ But because he is so focused right now, it hasn’t registered with him yet,” Leroy Jackson said.

More than any scoring list, Jackson said his son is more consumed with a team goal at the moment.

“It’s to make ‘March Madness,’ ” Leroy Jackson said.

UTSA road games at Charlotte are postponed

The last road trip of the regular season for the UTSA Roadrunners has been postponed because of winter-weather issues in Texas over the past week, it was announced Thursday night.

UTSA had been scheduled to travel on Thursday afternoon in order to play road games against the Charlotte 49ers on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

But the trip was scrapped in the wake of winter storms that have adversely affected the state of Texas for the past four days. A release from UTSA did not mention possible make up dates.

The Roadrunners (12-9, 8-6 in Conference USA) had won four in a row, sweeping two on the road at Florida International and two at home against Florida Atlantic.

According to the news release, UTSA “will now return to action with its final games of the regular season,” hosting the UAB Blazers Feb. 25-26 at the Convocation Center.

UTSA takes two from FAU, extends winning streak to four

Eric Parrish. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Eric Parrish came off the bench to produce 15 points and 5 rebounds Saturday as UTSA cruised past Florida Atlantic, 86-75. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The dance skills for UTSA men’s basketball coach Steve Henson are questionable, at best.

But that didn’t stop him from trying to improvise on Saturday afternoon when he walked into the locker room and saw that his players were celebrating their fourth straight victory, an 86-75 triumph at home over the Florida Atlantic University Owls.

Erik Czumbel. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Erik Czumbel scored 11 off the bench for the Roadrunners, who improved to 12-9 on the season and 8-6 in Conference USA. — Photo by Joe Alexander

“You could tell on his face,” UTSA forward Parrish said. “He came in, jumping and moving. I don’t see him move too much like that. Not even at practice.”

Later, Henson confirmed that he let loose with some emotion.

“Oh, we got to celebrate ’em,” the coach said. “Gosh. You know, it’s hard to win college basketball games.”

On Friday night, a Conference USA weekend series against FAU started with UTSA winning 84-80 in a fast-paced game. The pace slowed substantially on Saturday afternoon as athletes on both sides struggled with the quick turnaround.

But UTSA got the best of it with five players in double figures and the team shooting 50 percent from the field on an FAU squad trying to find answers in the absence of leading scorer Jailyn Ingram.

Without Ingram, a 6-foot-7 forward, the Owls produced only a few good stretches in the game. In the early going, midway through the first half, they led by three. At that point, senior guard Jhivvan Jackson and his teammates seized control and never really let up the rest of the afternoon.

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Keaton Wallace, the No. 2 scorer in school history, had 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting against the Owls. — Photo by Joe Alexander

They surged into a seven-point lead at halftime. After intermission, they popped it open to 15 at one point and led by double digits almost constantly.

“We did a lot of good things two days in a row,” Henson said. “We’re on a roll here right now. We got to enjoy those. If I could dance, I would have danced, but I can’t, so we just jumped around a little bit. By the time I get in there, they always usually have celebrated a little on their own.

“You know, we got to ride this out. We’ve got different guys stepping up.”

With Jackson scoring 20 points to become the No. 2 all-time scorer in Conference USA and No. 86 in NCAA history, the Roadrunners completed a four-week run to jump from last place to fourth in the C-USA West division.

The Roadrunners haven’t won four in a row since a seven-game streak in 2018-19. The previous streak started in non conference, in December of 2018, and it carried into January of 2019, when they won first four games on the conference schedule.

This time, rolling along with a 7-1 record in the last four weeks feels especially sweet, especially after the squad started off with a 1-5 record in conference.

“Different guys are feeling good,” Henson said. “Our team’s feeling good.”

Records

UTSA 12-9, 8-6
FAU 8-9, 3-5

Coming up

UTSA at Charlotte, Friday, 5 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Notable

The Roadrunners complete the regular season with two games in Charlotte (9-11, 5-7), followed by two at home against the UAB Blazers (16-4, 9-3). The games against UAB are Feb. 26-27, dates that potentially mark the last two home games for UTSA senior stars Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, the Nos. 1 and 2 scorers in school history.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men's college basketball back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson is 86th in NCAA Division I history and 2nd in the C-USA in career scoring with 2,461 points. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Jackson has 2,461 points in his career, and Wallace 1,964.

Jackson entered the weekend series against FAU with 2,411 and ranked No. 101 on the all-time NCAA Division I career scoring list. He scored 30 on Friday night and added a team-high 20 on Saturday, giving him 2,461, tied for 86th with 1950s-era La Salle star Tom Gola.

By moving into the NCAA’s Top 100 this weekend, Jackson passed the likes of Steve Alford, Chris Mullin, Glen Rice, Vernon Maxwell and Christian Laettner on the list. Now ranked No. 2 in C-USA, he bested former UTEP star Stefon Jackson, who produced 2,456 points in four seasons at UTEP through the 2008-09 season.

Television announces constantly talk about Jackson’s scoring prowess.

But his all-around game right now is as good as ever. On Saturday, for instance, he hit 8 of 13 shots from the field. Jackson also passed for nine assists and grabbed seven rebounds. For the weekend, he ran the team at point guard, hit 19 of 34 from the field and averaged 7.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds.

FAU played Saturday without Ingram, who averages 13.6 points per game.

Possibly limited by injury, he was held to 0-for-5 shooting on Friday night. UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez (knee) sat out his second straight game Saturday against FAU. It’s not certain whether he will play at Charlotte but Coach Henson is hopeful.

UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic: Saturday video and photo highlights

UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 86-75 at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in the second game of a Conference USA men’s college basketball back-to-back.

Roadrunners hang on to beat FAU for third straight win

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 84-80 on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in the first game of a Conference USA back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson played the pick and roll to near perfection as he scored 30 points against Florida Atlantic University. With the performance, Jackson moved up to 93rd on the NCAA Division I career scoring list with 2,441 points, one ahead of former St. John’s great Chris Mullin. — Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson likes to think some games come down to winning the “toughness battles.”

The Roadrunners won enough of them down the stretch Friday night and held on to defeat the Florida Atlantic University Owls, 84-80, for their third straight victory.

“Early in the second half, they came right at us,” Henson said. “Just drove it at us. (Grabbed) offensive rebounds. They won all the toughness battles there for several minutes. Drew a bunch of fouls on us. Looked up and we got five team fouls early in the second half. So we really challenged our guys in the one timeout to just play tougher.”

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 84-80 on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in the first game of a Conference USA back-to-back. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany battled with 6-foot-11 FAU center Karlis Silins and came up big with a career-high 26 points and 12 rebounds. It was his fifth career double double. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Boosted by senior guard Jhivvan Jackson, who scored 30 points, and sophomore center Jacob Germany, who produced a career-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, UTSA stayed on a hot roll that they’ve kept alive for four straight weekends.

The Roadrunners built an early lead and survived 13 three-pointers by the Owls, moving to 6-1 in their last seven games.

Feeling confident, they’ll try to make it four straight wins and seven out of eight when they host the Owls in Saturday’s Game 2 of a Conference USA home series at the Convocation Center.

At the moment, it’s only Feb. 12, but with different players and combinations contributing each night, it feels like March can’t come soon enough for the Roadrunners, who are averaging 87 points in their last three.

“Each game we get in the win column, that’s just more fuel to the fire,” said Germany, who hit 13 of 21 from the field. “We’re going to try to be one of those teams that gets hot at the right time and just makes a run deep in the conference tournament.”

Records

UTSA 11-9, 7-6
Florida Atlantic 8-8, 3-4

Coming up

Florida Atlantic at UTSA, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Top 100 breakthrough

Jackson was masterful with 11-for-21 shooting, not to mention six assists and six rebounds, on a night when perhaps the best player in program history moved into the top 100 in career scoring on the all-time NCAA Division I list.

By hitting for 30, the 6-foot native of Puerto Rico increased his school-leading career total to 2,441 points, which moved him into 93rd place all time in Division I, one point ahead of former St. John’s University star Chris Mullin.

Jackson’s mid-range game has been particularly good lately.

“Usually, a lot of teams limit my three-point shooting,” Jackson said. “And they always kind of have two guys on me. But I knew today, that team switches a lot. I knew I’d have to use the five (the center, for screens) a lot, and Jacob set some good screens for me.

“I had a couple of good looks. You know, I had a couple of good looks on the floaters and a couple of curls that I missed, but those shots, coach would love for me to take, you know, instead of a hard three. I don’t usually miss mid-range. Growing up, that’s the shot I worked on all the time.”

Down to the wire

As it turned out, the Roadrunners needed just about everything that Jackson and Germany could give them.

The Owls converted on a four-point play with eight seconds left when Kenan Blackshear knocked down a three out of the corner, got fouled, and hit a free throw to make it 82-80.

Keaton Wallace hit two free throws with six seconds left to ice it.

“Once again, we brought too much drama into it,” Henson said. “Think we had a nine-point lead real late and didn’t quite close it out the way you need to. That was a little disappointing. But there were a lot of positives.”

Halftime: UTSA 44, FAU 41

FAU hadn’t played a game in 20 days because of virus interruptions, and it showed early. The Owls were erratic on the offensive end, leading to some easy baskets for the Roadrunners, who jumped out to a 15-4 lead.

Germany hit five shots in the streak, including a variety of hooks, jumpers and layups.

UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic: Friday video and photo highlights


UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 84-80 on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in the first game of a Conference USA back-to-back.