South Florida men rally past UTSA

Carlton Linguard Jr. South Florida beat UTSA 66-61 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Carlton Linguard Jr. had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against South Florida. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Joe Alexander

(Editor’s note: Jerry Briggs was not able to be at tonight’s game.)

South Florida outscored UTSA 12-2 over the final 3:05 of the game to avoid an upset and the Bulls won 66-61 in men’s basketball at the Convocation Center.

The victory keeps South Florida at the top of the American Athletic Conference at 13-1 and 20-5 overall. UTSA fell to 2-12 in conference and 8-19 on the season.

UTSA led 59-54 after Christian Tucker made two free throws with 4:00 left in the game. The Roadrunners’ only points the rest of the way came on a Carlton Linguard Jr. dunk with two seconds left.

South Florida scored eight of their final 12 points on free throws as UTSA was forced to foul late.

Christian Tucker. South Florida beat UTSA 66-61 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Christian Tucker scored a team-high 15 points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Tucker led UTSA with 15 points and six assists. Linguard had 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks and Chandler Cuthrell had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Selton Miguel led South Florida with 17 points off the bench and Chris Youngblood had 15 points. The Bulls turned 19 UTSA turnovers into 19 points.

The loss was the seventh in a row for UTSA. The Roadrunners play their next game on the road Saturday against North Texas before returning to the Convocation Center on Feb. 28 to play Tulsa.

Chandler Cuthrell. South Florida beat UTSA 66-61 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Chandler Cuthrell had 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Tulsa makes 16 triples and routs UTSA, 107-78, in American conference men’s basketball

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Freshman PJ Haggerty scored seven points in a 21-4 burst in the first six minutes of the second half, and the home team Tulsa Golden Hurricane continued on to rout the UTSA Roadrunners 107-78 Wednesday night in the American Athletic Conference.

Tulsa’s opening burst after intermission expanded what had been a five-point lead at intermission and made it 22-point spread with 14:01 remaining. The Roadrunners never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.

With Tulsa shooting 59 percent from the field and knocking down 16 three pointers, the Golden Hurricane (10-7, 1-4) broke a four-game losing streak. In giving up a season-high in points in regulation play, the Roadrunners (7-11, 1-4) lost their third game in a row and their seventh in their last nine.

Haggerty. the second-leading scorer in the American, finished with 25 points. He came in averaging 18.8. The 6-foot-3 freshman from Crosby, Texas, also produced six rebounds and seven assists. He hit nine of 12 shots from the field, including four for four on three-point attempts.

For UTSA, Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

The Roadrunners shot the ball reasonably well in the first half, hitting 48 percent from the field, to stay within five points at intermission. But in the second half, the offense came undone, as the team hit only 9 of 33 for 27.3 percent.

First half

In a fast-paced half, the Golden Hurricane hoisted 15 three-point attempts and hit 10 of them to take a 53-48 lead on the Roadrunners at intermission.

Haggerty knocked down three for three from beyond the arc to lead the Golden Hurricane, who hit 63.6 percent from the field in the half. Another freshman, Isaiah Barnes, knocked down two from distance, as did Tyshawn Archie and Cobe Williams.

The Roadrunners also played well offensively, with Jordan Ivy-Curry and Christian Tucker scoring 12 points apiece.

The lead in the game went back and forth for the first eight minutes before the Golden Hurricane ran off on a 17-5 burst. Barnes emerged as a principal in the outburst by scoring nine points in a row for Tulsa.

Barnes capped the streak by rebounding his own miss and hitting a put-back for a 44-32 lead with 4:31 remaining. In response, the Roadrunners went off on a 12-0 run of their own. Two free throws by Tucker tied the game 44-44 with 2:16 left.


Tulsa’s 107 points ranked as an opponent season high in regulation against the Roadrunners. Minnesota beat UTSA 102-76 on Nov. 10 in the second game of the season. On Jan. 10,
the 15th-ranked Memphis Tigers downed the Roadrunners 107-101 in overtime, in a game that was tied at 94 at the end of the second half … Guard Adante’ Holiman has missed four straight games with an ankle sprain.


UTSA 7-11, 1-4
Tulsa 10-7, 1-4

Coming up

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.

AAC men’s basketball gets an infusion of talent from Conference USA

Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May. No. 24 Florida Atlantic beat UTSA 83-64 in men's basketball on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Dusty May and his FAU Owls won the Conference USA title and advanced all the way to the NCAA Final Four last spring. The Owls are now picked to win the American Athletic Conference in their first year as a member of the league. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With the departure of Houston, UCF and Cincinnati from the American Athletic Conference, a compelling question looms. Will the glory days of AAC men’s basketball soon fade into the frayed and yellowed pages of history?

Or, with the arrival of six schools from Conference USA, including Final Four darling Florida Atlantic, has the AAC actually started to trek down a road to become a better league — from top to bottom — than it has been in recent years?

Steve Henson. UTSA lost to UAB 83-78 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson talked to reporters Monday in Dallas at the AAC media day. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“I think we’re going to have the best roster of coaches in men’s and women’s basketball that we’ve ever had,” Commissioner Mike Aresco said at the televised AAC media day on Monday morning in Dallas. “I think this conference is deeper than it’s ever been.

“We’ll lose Houston, and they obviously did a lot for the conference. When you really think about what Kelvin Sampson (the Houston men’s coach) meant and what he did for the conference, I want to really applaud him. But this conference is now deeper, and it will be better, than it was before.”

On a local level, another weighty question is being asked.

Can UTSA, picked to finish last in its first season in the AAC, ever contend on a consistent basis in what officials hope will become a conference that annually sends multiple teams to the NCAA tournament? Or, are fans of the Roadrunners destined to feel more misery than euphoria in the years ahead?

UTSA coach Steve Henson, whose teams have finished 10-22 in each of the past two seasons, brushed off the poll results and said he’s energized with a roster of players that turned over almost entirely from last year.

“We’re excited about those new guys,” Henson told an ESPN media crew. “We set out this summer, tried to get ’em in as early as possible. It was a little bit of a challenge to get ’em signed, to get ’em all committed, get ’em on board and get ’em to class.

“But the majority of them were around (campus) in the summer. We anticipated needing to do some team bonding, to facilitate some chemistry. But they kind of handled all that on their own. So that was exciting. That was issue No. 1, getting those guys to gel.”

Once coaches started to work with the new group, which features three strong post defenders, a few quick point guards and some wings that can run the fast break, the identity of the squad came into sharper focus.

“We like our versatility,” Henson said. “We’re an older group. We’re not alone in saying that, in this day and age. There’s a lot of older teams right now. But we think this group’s got a chance with our versatility and hunger and desire to do something special.”

Asked about the program in general, Henson said it’s an exciting time to be in UTSA athletics.

“It’s just an exciting time to be at UTSA,” he said. “We’re a young university. A young athletic department (with) a young football program that’s absolutely crushing it. Football in Texas — it’s kind of a big deal. We just try to piggy-back off that momentum. It’s a good basketball city with the Spurs traditionally. Renewed interest there with (rookie Victor Wembanyama) coming to town.

UAB coach Andy Kennedy. UTSA lost to UAB 83-78 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Andy Kennedy and the UAB Blazers are picked to finish fourth in the AAC. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“So, it’s a great place to live. It’s a thriving university. If you drive near our campus, (there’s) construction everywhere. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. People don’t realize we’re the seventh-largest city in the country. Sounds like we’re closing in on No. 6. It’s just a fun place to be right now. A lot of excitement.

“People talk about the River Walk, which is great. If you visit San Antonio, you’re going to go to the River Walk. We’ve got our own separate area around our campus, which is thriving like crazy.”

At one time, Roadrunner basketball was thriving under Henson, who is entering his eighth season at the school. The team posted winning records in three of four seasons in one stretch and finished in the upper division of C-USA with Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace leading the way. Despite the Roadrunners’ recent struggles, Henson firmly believes UTSA basketball can become a contender again.

“Our kids are going to play extremely hard,” he said. “You know, the polls (picking UTSA for last place) are out. We’re not going to have to do a lot of putting that up on the walls. You know, our kids are going to see it. They’re going to use that as motivation. We won’t over-do that with them.

“They’re going to be hungry. They’re motivated. We literally had one kid cry when we offered him a scholarship, he was so thrilled to come in. (But) this group’s going to play hard. We’ve always played fast. This team is built to play fast. We have shooters. We’ve got three big guys on the interior that are all defensive-minded and talk. We’re excited about it.

“Again, this group will use the polls as motivation.”

Last year, the postseason tournaments served as a reminder that Conference USA teams entering the American would be competitive. For instance, after FAU won the C-USA, it turned around and beat AAC champion Memphis in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Columbus, Ohio. Then it went on to win 35 games en route to the school’s first berth in the Final Four.

Furthermore, both North Texas and UAB won berths in the National Invitation Tournament, and both kept winning until they met in the finals in Las Vegas. Once in the title game at the Orleans Arena, North Texas downed UAB, 68-61. In addition, Charlotte won the College Basketball Invitational, downing Eastern Kentucky, 71-68, in the finals at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Combined, the four teams posted a combined record of 117-35. In the AAC preseason poll, FAU was picked to win, with Memphis second, Tulane third and UAB fourth. UAB Blazers coach Andy Kennedy told ESPN on Monday afternoon that the new-look AAC will need to earn its respect in November and December.

“Ultimately, you make your hay in the non-league (games),” Kennedy said. “We’ve certainly challenged ourselves, and I’ve looked around at the other schedules around the league, and a lot of our teams are going to challenge themselves early. We have to win some of those games, so that when we get into the gauntlet of league play …

“People ask me all the time, I’ve coached in the Big East. I’ve coached 12 years in the SEC. And they say,
What’s the hardest league in the country?’ I say, ‘It’s the one you’re in.’ That’s how coaches look at it. So the league is going to be very, very challenging.

“I think if we can do what we need to do as a group, heading into conference play, we’re going to put ourselves into a position to be a multi-bid league.”

AAC Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Florida Atlantic (11) 167
2. Memphis (3) 159
3. Tulane 142
4. UAB 128
5. East Carolina 105
6. North Texas 100
7. SMU 97
8. Wichita State 90
9. South Florida 62
10. Tulsa 59
11. Rice 56
12. Temple 49
13. Charlotte 46
14. UTSA 14

Notes: First-place votes in parentheses. Florida Atlantic, UAB, North Texas, Rice, Charlotte and UTSA are set to play in the AAC for the first time this year after splitting away from Conference USA.