Temple snaps a 10-game losing streak by downing UTSA, 83-77, in AAC men’s basketball

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Leading by three with two minutes left, the Temple Owls broke it open down the stretch thanks to a Steve Settle three pointer, and then they went on to snap a 10-game losing streak with an 83-77 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

In an American Athletic Conference played game at Philadelphia, the Owls shot 45 percent from the field and knocked down eight threes to win for the first time since Jan. 7. UTSA has now dropped six straight and hasn’t won since Jan. 24.

Guard Hysier Miller scored 20 points to lead four Temple players in double figures. Settle finished with 16, followed by Jahlil White with 15 and Jordan Riley 12.

UTSA played the second half without floor leader Christian Tucker, who was disqualified just before halftime for leaving the bench area. Jordan Ivy-Curry led the Roadrunners with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists. PJ Carter hit three three-point baskets and finished with 13. Dre Fuller Jr. had 11 points and four rebounds.

The Roadrunners shot 42.7 percent from the floor and made six three-point baskets.

First half

In a blow to the Roadrunners’ chances to win, guard Christian Tucker was ejected just before halftime. It all started when Temple guard Hysier Miller was trapped in the corner adjacent to the UTSA bench. Guarded closely by Roadrunners’ guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, Miller pushed off. Ivy-Curry fell backward and went down on the floor.

Tucker, who was not in the game at the time, stood up in front of the bench. Then he came out on the court, extending his hand to help Ivy-Curry get up. But, by rule, he was ejected, leaving UTSA short-handed for the second half. The Roadrunners went into the dressing room leading 41-34 after Ivy-Curry hit a free throw awarded on a technical foul against Miller for pushing off.


UTSA 2-11, 8-18
Temple 2-11, 9-17

Coming up

South Florida at UTSA, Wednesday, 7 p.m.


Christian Tucker had one point, two rebounds and two assists at the time of his ejection. For the season, he was averaging 12 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

UAB wins in the final seconds against UTSA, 78-76

UAB guard Efrem ‘Butta’ Johnson (No. 24) circles the perimeter, receives a pass and knocks down the game-winner. Johnson, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Huntsville, Ala., hit two baskets in the last minute of the game and finished with 17 points for the Blazers. – Video by The JB Replay

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Guard Efrem Johnson nailed a 16-foot jumper off the side with three seconds left Tuesday night, lifting the UAB Blazers to a 78-76 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners in the inaugural American Athletic Conference game for both teams.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UAB beat UTSA 78-76 in the men's basketball American Conference opener on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Jordan Ivy-Curry produced 20 points and 10 rebounds. It was his second straight game of 20 or more. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“They made a contested two to win it,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “Frustrating. Frustrating.”

After a timeout, the Roadrunners had 2.5 seconds left to try to pull it out. They were inbounding with 92 feet to the other end of the court. So it was a low-percentage chance to tie or win it. And, sure enough, the play was blown up when UAB guard Eric Gaines intercepted the inbounds.

“Disappointed for our guys,” Henson said later in the interview room. “We did some things very well in the game. It feels a little like the Oregon State game, where we did enough good things on both ends to win the ball game. It’s right there.”

UAB forward Yaxel Lendeborg emerged as the individual star of the night with 23 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots. The performance followed his 24-point, 15-rebound effort in a 90-85 victory over UNC Asheville last Friday in Birmingham. Against UTSA, Lendeborg knocked down five of six 3-point shots.

Coming into the conference opener, the Roadrunners talked openly about how they felt “disrespected” in a preseason poll that pegged them for a last-place finish in the 14-team league. One player mused that “a lot of people think we’re not even supposed to be in this conference.”

Even with the loss, the Roadrunners might have changed some opinions with their all-out effort against a team that had been picked fourth in the same preseason poll. Playing in front of a television audience on ESPNU, UTSA pressured on defense and forced UAB into 40 percent shooting from the field and 20 turnovers.

“I think we made a statement that we’re not here to quit or lay down, and that we’re going to fight in every game,” UTSA forward Dre Fuller Jr. said.

Christian Tucker. UAB beat UTSA 78-76 in the men's basketball American Conference opener on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Christian Tucker finished with 15 points on six of nine shooting from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The final minute of the game was hotly contested. In fact, it looked a lot like a game headed for overtime.

First, UTSA power forward Trey Edmonds sank a short hook shot with 57 seconds left to tie the score. On the other end, Johnson nailed a pull-up jumper as UAB went back in front by two.

Not to be outdone, UTSA’s Jordan Ivy-Curry made a play to tie it again. Defending at the top of the circle, Gaines stepped in front of the UTSA playmaker try to draw a charge. But Ivy-Curry got the call, went to the line with 25 seconds left and knocked down two free throws. Once again, it was deadlocked, this time at 76-all.

On the ensuing possession, the Blazers played it perfectly. As Gaines dribbled at the top, Johnson set up in one corner. As the clock ticked down toward 10 seconds, Johnson started to circle the perimeter, headed for the other side of the floor.

He caught the pass, rose up and swished it.

On UTSA’s last play, Fuller was inbounding the ball from the baseline. Video showed UTSA guard Isaiah Wyatt streaking down one sideline toward the other end, with Christian Tucker setting a pick near halfcourt to free him. A UAB player backed up, creating contact that sent Tucker sprawling to the court. There was no call.

Dre Fuller Jr. UAB beat UTSA 78-76 in the men's basketball American Conference opener on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Dre Fuller Jr. enjoyed a big game with 15 points. Fuller hit three of six shots from outside the 3-point arc. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Meanwhile, the Blazers had the inbounds covered effectively, with Gaines stepping into traffic to secure the steal — and the game.


UAB 9-5, 1-0
UTSA 6-8, 0-1


The Roadrunners have lost five straight conference openers. Their last victory in a conference opener came on Jan. 3 of 2019 in San Antonio when they beat the UTEP Miners, 75-60. Henson, in his eighth year with the Roadrunners, is 3-5 in games that have kicked off conference schedules … UTSA guard Adante’ Holiman went down with an ankle injury with 4:37 remaining when he was fouled on a e-point shot attempt. Despite the injury, he made two of three free throws and then had to come out of the game … The Blazers lead the series with the Roadrunners, 12-5. UAB has won six out of seven against UTSA under fourth-year coach Andy Kennedy. UTSA has lost five straight to UAB, with its last victory coming on Feb. 27 of 2021. On that day, the Roadrunners won 96-79 in the last game at home for former star guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.


UAB — Lendeborg produced 23 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks in 40 minutes. The 6-foot-9, 230-pounder stepped outside to knock down five 3 pointers. Also, guard Efrem Johnson, 17 points and four assists. Daniel Ortiz, 11 points, with three from behind the arc. Eric Gaines had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds.

UTSA — Jordan Ivy-Curry, 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in nearly 29 minutes. Ivy-Curry had to come out for a few minutes down the stretch when he picked up his fourth foul. Dre Fuller, 15 points on six of 12 from the field, including three triples. Also, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Christian Tucker, 15 points, six of nine shooting.

Key team stats

UAB outrebounded UTSA, 49-35, including 17-13 on the offensive end. The Blazers also knocked down 55 percent from 3-point distance, namely, 11 of 20.

First half

The Roadrunners played one of their better halves of the season as they emerged with a 40-39 lead going into the break at intermission.

UTSA’s pressure defense forced 11 turnovers and held an explosive offensive team to 38 percent shooting from the field.

On the other end, guards Jordan Ivy-Curry and Christian Tucker used their speed and savvy to hurt the Blazers. Ivy-Curry had 10 points on four of seven shooting. Tucker, meanwhile, slashed inside to hit four of six from the floor. He had nine points at the half.

UAB stayed close in the game with its attack on the rim and nine of 10 free-throw shooting. UTSA wasn’t nearly as productive at the stripe, making one of four, with all of the attempts by Trey Edmonds.

Center Yaxel Lendeborg was big for the Blazers, producing 14 points and nine rebounds. Eric Gaines also emerged as a key player with 10 points.

JB’s video replay

Forward Trey Edmonds posts up and scores on a short hook with 57 seconds remaining against the UAB Blazers.

UTSA rebounds after a Jordan Ivy-Curry miss and gets the ball to Christian Tucker, whose drive to the bucket for a reverse layup lifted the Roadrunners into a 72-71 lead with 1:32 remaining.

UTSA’s Christian Tucker drives and dishes to Dre Fuller Jr. for an easy bucket.

UAB forward Yaxel Lendeborg buries a three on a pick and pop play early in the second half. Lendeborg led all scorers with 23 points. He hit five of six from 3-point range.

Jacksonville State rolls in the second half to a 77-62 victory over UTSA

Christian Tucker. Jacksonville State beat UTSA 77-62 in non-conference men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Hard-charging UTSA guard Christian Tucker scored a career-high 19 points in the opener of the three-day Roadrunners/Cardinals Classic. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

The Jacksonville State University Gamecocks hit the boards for nine offensive rebounds and scored 13 second-chance points after intermission Friday, pulling away to record a 77-62 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Playing on UTSA’s home court at the Convocation Center, the Gamecocks held the Roadrunners to 36 percent shooting and forced eight turnovers in the first half to build a 31-26 lead.

The game seemed to be one that UTSA could win at that point despite the poor offense. But that is when Jax State turned up the intensity, hit the boards hard and started turning several possessions into second-chance opportunities.

Dre Fuller Jr. Jacksonville State beat UTSA 77-62 in non-conference men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Dre Fuller Jr. produced 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Gamecocks guard KyKy Tandy emerged as one player who took advantage, scoring all of his 16 points in the second half.

The Roadrunners were also pretty good in the second half offensively, shooting 50 percent from the field as a team. But they couldn’t keep the Gamecocks off the glass, and that was the ball game.

Addressing the media in the post-game, eighth-year UTSA coach Steve Henson was clearly upset with his team’s performance.

“Pretty frustrating,” Henson said. “Didn’t get off to a very good start. They just went right to the box and scored in the paint over and over and over. I think, something like 16 of the first 18 were paint points. Just kind of dominated down there in the low post. Got to be tougher than that.”

UTSA (2-4) will have an opportunity to make amends Saturday when it hosts the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals (3-2) at 3 p.m. Under first-year coach Shane Heirman, UIW is on a three-game winning streak, including a 67-66 home victory over Jacksonville State earlier this week.

The Cardinals will play the Gamecocks in the Convocation Center at 3 p.m. Sunday to complete the Roadrunners/Cardinals Classic.

The first game played in the multi-team event was hardly classic, if you happened to be a fan of the Roadrunners. Coming off an 89-87 road victory at Houston Christian on Monday night, UTSA had a chance to win its second straight and failed to beat a team that came into the arena with four losses in its first five games.

Steve Henson. Jacksonville State beat UTSA 77-62 in non-conference men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson and the Roadrunners host the Incarnate Word Cardinals Saturday at 3 p.m.- Photo by Joe Alexander

“Offensively, we couldn’t get any rhythm,” Henson said. “Couldn’t get drive-kicks. Had some opportunities to finish and didn’t get the finishes. (We had) eight turnovers in the first half and just couldn’t get any pace. Once they had control of the game, they were certainly more deliberate.”

Jax State sensed a chance to steal a victory and seized it. It seemed like each time UTSA made a push in the second half, the visitors had an answer. Henson lamented the lost opportunities to get defensive stops because of a missed opportunity to get a defensive rebound.

“Our defense was getting broken down and weren’t in good position to rebound on some of those,” the coach said. “It all goes together. They’re getting penetrations (off) ball screens. We’re being forced to help off penetration also takes away your rebounding responsibilities. You got to help the helper. That’s not just on the ball. It’s on the rebound.”

Gamecocks guards Tandy and Quincy Clark both hit a couple of threes and scored 16 points apiece. Ivan Reynolds had 13 points and Marcellus Brigham Jr. scored 12. For UTSA, Christian Tucker scored a career-high 19 points. Dre Fuller Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Tucker came to UTSA a few years ago as a walk on. He played sporadic minutes the past two seasons. This year, he has been consistently productive and has led the team in minutes played.

Carlton Linguard Jr. Jacksonville State beat UTSA 77-62 in non-conference men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Seven-foot Carlton Linguard Jr. had four points, four rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes off the bench. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I got to be a lot better,” Tucker said. “Although I scored tonight, it didn’t contribute to us winning the game. I have to figure out other ways I can help my team. Once I figure that out, I’ll be a much better help to my team.”

After beating Western Illinois at home in the opener, UTSA went on the road and lost at Minnesota, Lamar and at Texas State. They shot 49 percent from the field against Houston Christian. Things were looking up, until they hit the floor against Jacksonville State.

“We got to play a lot better,” Tucker said. “We got to fight more. This game was just about effort and we didn’t get enough of that.”

Giving up too many offensive rebounds has been a recurring problem. It nearly cost UTSA against Western Illinois and it also led to an eight-point road loss at Lamar.

“We just have to figure it out,” Tucker said. “It’s all about boxing out. Rebounding isn’t about skill. It’s about effort. If were not getting enough effort, the other team is going to beat us every time.”


Jacksonville State 2-4
UTSA 2-4

Coming up

Incarnate Word at UTSA, 3 p.m., Saturday
Jacksonville State vs. Incarnate Word, 3 p.m. Sunday (at UTSA)


Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper. Jacksonville State beat UTSA 77-62 in non-conference men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper once was a college roommate with Mike Wacker at the University of Texas. Wacker later coached as an assistant at UTSA before working a long stretch at head coach at Judson High School. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper counts former UTSA assistant and former longtime Judson High School head coach Mike Wacker as a good friend. The two were roommates at the University of Texas in the 1980s.

“He’s coming over (to our practice) tomorrow,” Harper said. “He went to Fort Worth to see his mom for Thanksgiving. He’s going to come over and hang out tomorrow, talk to the team for me, and all that good stuff. I haven’t seen him in, gosh, 20 years.”

Harper was happy to see his players bounce back from a one-point loss at Incarnate Word. In that game, played Wednesday night, UIW led by 18 early in the second half. Jax State rallied and surged into a four-point lead late but then lost it at the end, falling 67-66, on a buzzer beater by Shon Robinson.

“We got a lot of new guys trying to figure things out,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out with different guys. We’ve lost three games — all (on) shots at the buzzer. You know, that tests your character a little bit. And that’s what we talk about. Who are we? How do we respond to that?

“I thought we competed today. I thought we did a good job.”

Christian Tucker. Jacksonville State beat UTSA 77-62 in non-conference men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA junior Christian Tucker is averaging 12.6 points, 5.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds through six games for the UTSA Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Steve Henson looking for ‘high-level’ consistency

Forward Dre Fuller Jr. enjoyed his best game of the season Monday night, producing 24 points and four rebounds for the UTSA Roadrunners as they won on the road, downing the Houston Christian University Huskies, 89-87.

Guard Christian Tucker had another solid performance, going for 15 points, eight assists and five boards. As Fuller and Tucker rolled, so did the Roadrunners, who shot a season-high 49 percent from the field to help them snap a troublesome three-game losing streak.

With UTSA set to host the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks Friday at noon, Coach Steve Henson took time out after practice Wednesday afternoon to address a few topics.

First, with a group of five players averaging in the neighborhood of 10 points a game, is he looking for someone like Fuller to break out as a go-to scoring leader to carry the team?

Not necessarily, Henson said.

“Not so concerned with someone stepping up and scoring 16 a game, 15 or 20, or whatever,” the coach said. “Not that part. Just more (of) can you play at a high level every night. Tuck’s kind of done that. Trey Edmonds has done a pretty good job of that most nights.

“(But) Dre has scored it very well in stretches. I still think he’s going to be a pretty good facilitator for us. He doesn’t have that many assists right now. That’s what I thought, prior to (the season), he was going to be our leading assist guy.”

While Fuller leads the Roadrunners in scoring at 12.6 points, Tucker is the assists leader at 6.0 per game. Tucker, a junior, is also averaging 11.4 points and 3.0 rebounds. He’s been something of a revelation so far this season in his first as a scholarship player.

“He’s making it happen,” Henson said.

Other questions are looming as UTSA is set to play on back-to-back days for the first time this season. After playing the Gamecocks on Friday, they’ll take on the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, their Division I cross-town rival, on Saturday.

Will they go with a small lineup again? Will it be Edmonds, Fuller, Isaiah Wyatt, Tucker and Adante’ Holiman, as it was on Monday night at Houston Christian? Maybe. But, maybe not. Henson said after Wednesday’s workout that he hasn’t decided.

Whatever the case, he said he won’t be managing minutes in the Jacksonville State game. Henson said he’ll try to do everything he can to win Friday and then worry about Saturday’s game plan when the time arrives.

The Cardinals, under first-year coach Shane Heirman, have won three in a row.

On Wednesday night at UIW, the Cardinals held an 18-point lead early in the second half, blew all of it and then some, falling behind by four with less than a minute to play, only to rally in the final seconds to beat the Gamecocks from Jacksonville, Ala., 67-66, on a buzzer-beater by Shon Robinson.

Led by veteran coach Ray Harper, who once played guard for the Texas Longhorns, the Gamecocks have lost four straight. Three of the losses — to Utah Tech, North Alabama and UIW — have been by a combined five points.

UTSA season in review

Western Illinois, W, 78-68 (OT)
@ Minnesota, L, 76-102
@ Lamar, L, 82-90
@ Texas State, L, 62-72
@ Houston Christian, W, 89-87

Looking up

The Roadrunners have limited opponents to 40.5 percent shooting and 31.9 percent from three, both to the liking of UTSA coach Steve Henson. UTSA has also turned it over only 52 times. Another good number.

Lingering concerns

UTSA is minus 30 in total rebounds, with opponents grabbing 235 of them to only 205 for the Roadrunners. Free-throw shooting differential is also a problem, 116 for 167 for opponents to only 86 of 124 for UTSA.

Individual leaders

Dre Fuller, Jr. — Team-leading 12.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists. Graduate senior forward from North Carolina, who last played at Central Florida, is shooting 40 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from three, 79.9 percent on free throws.

Christian Tucker — 11.4 points, team-leading 6 assists, 3 rebounds. Junior guard from Arizona, 31.1 percent field goals, 15.4 percent from three, 84.4 percent on free throws.

Adante’ Holiman — 11.4 points, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals. Sophomore from Oklahoma, a transfer from UT Rio Grande Valley, 34.6 percent field goals, 31 percent from three, 70.6 percent free throws.

Trey Edmonds — 9.6 points, 7.4 rebounds. Junior center from Colorado, a transfer from Utah Tech, 51.4 percent field goals but only 46.2 percent on free throws. Edmonds hasn’t shot a three.

P.J. Carter — 8.8 points. Junior guard from Georgia, a transfer from Georgia Highlands, 47.2 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from three, 66.7 percent on free throws.

Coming up

Roadrunner/Cardinal Classic
Jacksonville State (1-4) at UTSA (2-3), Friday, noon
Incarnate Word (3-2) at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.
Jacksonville State vs. Incarnate Word, at UTSA, Sunday, 3 p.m.

Texas State wins 72-62 in an I-35 rivalry game against UTSA

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

The Texas State Bobcats rebounded from a blowout loss at Oklahoma earlier this week, pulled away from the rival UTSA Roadrunners late and emerged with a 72-62 victory Friday night in San Marcos.

Playing their home opener at Strahan Arena, the Bobcats put forth a strong effort in the paint to win their first game in the I-35 rivalry since 2018.

UTSA had won four out of its last five in the series but failed to get much going on the offensive end, shooting 31.7 percent from the field. The Roadrunners also turned it over 13 times en route to their fewest points this season and their third straight loss.

“They’re really good defensively,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told Jay Howard on the school’s radio broadcast. “They’ve been that way (for years). That’s the sixth time we’ve played against them since I’ve been here and we always know how tough they’re going to be.”

Texas State entered the game looking to make amends for a 93-54 loss to Oklahoma on Tuesday night. The game was played in Norman, Okla., at the home of the Sooners.

As the the Bobcats left Big 12 territory and returned home, their big men answered the challenge and played well against the Roadrunners, a team transitioning into the American Athletic Conference this season.

Six-foot-seven forward Christian Turner led the charge for the Bobcats of the Sun Belt, scoring 19 points. He kept taking it inside and getting fouled, leading to 10 of 12 shooting at the line. Six-foot-nine Brandon Love enjoyed a big night, as well, with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Six-foot-six guard Joshua O’Garro had 13 points, including 11 in the second half.

For the Roadrunners, 6-3 point guard Christian Tucker led with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists. Small forward Dre Fuller Jr. scored 13, including a three-for-six effort from the three-point line.

On the other hand, UTSA starting post players Carlton Linguard, Jr., and Trey Edmonds never found a rhythm, as both fouled out, scoreless, on zero-for-three shooting from the field.

UTSA led in the game only a few times but nevertheless stayed within two possessions for the most part. At the end, however, things came unraveled for the Roadrunners as the Bobcats kept attacking and pushed the lead to double figures for much of the final three minutes.


UTSA 1-3
Texas State 2-2

Coming up

UTSA at Houston Christian, Monday, 7 p.m.

First half

Starting slowly, the Roadrunners misfired on six of their first seven shots from the field and allowed the Bobcats to take an early 8-2 lead on the scoreboard. The UTSA offense never quite find traction, but it did produce five 3-point baskets.

Meanwhile, Texas State did a good job of scoring in the paint and emerged with a 27-25 halftime lead. With Tyrel Morgan and a few other Texas State players injured and unavailable, Turner scored 10 points and Love had seven for the Bobcats.

For the Roadrunners, Tucker led the way with seven points. He was one of five UTSA players with a three-pointer in the half.


UTSA had won six of eight, four of five and the last two meetings in the I-35 rivalry. Texas State put a stop to the surge with a grind-it-out victory that wasn’t pretty except for the final verdict. In a series that started in 1985, played between schools only 50 miles apart, UTSA still leads, 37-26.

The Roadrunners stayed in the game early with three-point shooting, hitting five of 15 from beyond the stripe in the first half. In response, Texas State did a much better job guarding the perimeter late, as UTSA made only three of 12 from distance after intermission.

UTSA opened the season with a 10-point victory at home, in overtime, against Western Illinois. The team started a four-game road trip at Minnesota last Friday and lost 102-76. UTSA played next at Lamar on Tuesday and fell 90-82 in a high-scoring game that had pace. Texas State, in contrast, slowed the tempo and kept UTSA from scoring on many, if any, easy baskets.

UTSA wins 125-84, blowing out McMurry with eight in double figures

Guard Christian Tucker came off the bench Monday night to score 16 points, leading eight UTSA players in double figures, as the Roadrunners blew out the Division III McMurry University War Hawks, 125-84, at the Convocation Center.

Tucker hit seven of nine shots from the field, passed for a team-high tying five assists and pulled down four rebounds. Tucker and the reserves helped boost UTSA to a 51-26 splurge in the final 13:36 of the first half.

Chandler Cuthrell punctuated the half with a massive dunk off a missed three-pointer by Adante’ Holiman. Notching his second straight double-double, Cuthrell finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

New-look UTSA hosts Trinity tonight in exhibition opener

Adante' Holiman. UTSA men's basketball practice on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore point guard Adante’ Holiman, a transfer from UT Rio Grande Valley, is expected to play a major role in the backcourt this season for the UTSA Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Hoping for a fast start with a new-look roster, the UTSA Roadrunners will host the non-scholarship Trinity University Tigers in an exhibition opener tonight at the Convocation Center.

“I just want to see what we can carry over (from practices),” eighth-year UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “They’ve worked hard. I like the pace that we’ve had. There are certain actions that we’re defending pretty well.

PJ Carter. UTSA men's basketball practice on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Junior college transfer PJ Carter is perhaps the most improved newcomer on the team after coming in from Georgia Highlands College. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“It doesn’t mean we’ll see that from Trinity tomorrow. Probably will be some surprises. Always just curious about what will transfer. We’ll play a bunch of guys and see what our conditioning looks like.

“Hoping to see a great defensive effort. A great rebounding effort. Hope we’ve got some pace. The offense will take care of itself if we’re locked in on the other end of the floor.”

After tonight, the Roadrunners will continue practicing before hosting McMurry University next Monday to wrap up the exhibition schedule. The regular season opener is Nov. 6 at home against Western Illinois.

For the fans, the exhibition against Trinity will serve as an opportunity to take their first look at the Roadrunners since the roster was almost totally revamped during the offseason.

First-year players in the program who are expected to see action tonight include the likes of Adante’ Holiman, Dre Fuller, Jr., Nazar Mahmoud, PJ Carter, Isaiah Wyatt, Chandler Cuthrell, Trey Edmonds and Josh Reid.

Another player making his UTSA debut will be seven-foot center Carlton Linguard Jr., who is eligible for the first time after rectifying academic issues following a transfer in the summer of 2022 from Kansas State University.

Returning players from last year’s squad include Christian Tucker and Massal Diouf.

Jordan Ivy-Curry, Justin Thomas and Juan Reyna, who are all scheduled to sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules, are not expected to play against Trinity. It’s possible that they could be cleared at some point, but it would require a waiver from the NCAA. So, those three, along with guard/forward Blessing Adesipe, who is rehabilitating an injury, won’t be on the floor against Trinity, the coach said.

Initially, UTSA fans might notice lineup combinations in the frontcourt that will have more heft, if not more height, than last year.

In the interior, Henson might play Linguard (7-foot, 225 pounds) in the post along with Diouf (6-9, 240) or Edmonds (6-10, 255). A more traditional set could feature any of the three big men, paired with Cuthrell (6-8, 220) at power forward.

In addition, the Roadrunners also could go smaller on the front line with the versatile Fuller (6-6, 220).

In the backcourt, the Roadrunners believe they have some speed with the likes of Holiman and Tucker, both of them point guards, along with a grouping of wing players who will be tasked with running the floor, shooting and defending.

That group would include Carter, Mahmoud, Wyatt and also Fuller, a former three-year veteran from the Central Florida Knights who sat out all of last year following the death of his mother.

Henson said it’s possible that he might play both Tucker and Holiman, possibly one of the most natural scorers on the team, together.

“They both earned the right to be out on the court, so we’ll play them together quite a bit, I would anticipate,” the coach said. “Christian’s done a really good job for us. He’s taken a good step (forward) for us on both ends of the floor. He’s the (player) most familiar with what we’re doing, the most experienced in our program. So, yeah, both of those guys will play a lot.”

Asked to identify the newcomer who has made the biggest jump from his time of arrival earlier this summer, Henson didn’t hesitate in saying that it has been Carter, a 6-foot-5 wing player from Atlanta, who averaged 16.3 points and shot 43 percent from three last year at Georgia Highlands College.

“He’s doing now what we saw on film, what we anticipated,” Henson said. “When he first got here, he wasn’t in very good condition. I don’t think he did a lot in the spring. He was finishing up his academics. I don’t think he was on the court a lot certainly with intense game action of any kind.

“His condition (in the summer) prevented him from playing the way we anticipated. We were concerned early on, but his condition just got better and better. He’s been a good, solid player. Versatile. Good feel for the game. High IQ guy. He’s been really good since he got in shape.”

Another player who has made significant strides, the coach said, has been Wyatt. Last week, the 6-4 Ohioan who shot 46.9 percent from beyond the arc last year at Division II Chadron State, Neb., went on a six for seven, three-point shooting binge during a 15-minute full court, full-speed scrimmage.

“He had a lot to do academically this summer and that was wearing him down,” Henson said. “But once he got through that, we had to work on his conditioning. We knew he could shoot the ball well. He’s picked up on our schemes defensively. He’s improved on that end a lot.”

Players that have been better than expected? Henson talked about Edmonds, who played last year at Utah Tech. Edmonds is expected to be a defender and a rebounder, primarily. “He’s such a conscientious player who wants to do things right, on and off the court,” Henson said.

The coach also mentioned Mahmoud, a 6-5 freshman guard from the Austin area.

“We started recruiting him several years ago, Henson said. “I loved him when I first saw him. We were fairly aggressive with him, I guess, it was the summer before his junior year. I thought he had terrific upside. He’s a little better than I anticipated. He’s got some work to do defensively. But he knows (offensively) how to set his man up, make cuts, reads defenses and shoots it with confidence.”

After putting in all the work, UTSA players are anxious to test themselves against an opponent. Wyatt said that, with Trinity at the Division III level, he wants to see the Roadrunners win by at least a double-digit margin.

“We worked our butts off to get to this point, and now we’re heading into the season,” Wyatt said. “I already know, a lot of people have a different narrative about how UTSA basketball is, and we definitely want to change that.

“We’ve got quite a few new faces, and a lot of them have been through junior colleges, he added. “If anyone knows anything about junior colleges, we all have a chip on our shoulder. We all have something to prove.”


UTSA has played Trinity in exhibitions each of the past two seasons. Two years ago, the Roadrunners rolled to a 97-66 victory and last year, they shot the ball poorly but still won easily, 74-47.

The Tigers enter the game under the direction of fourth-year coach Jimmy Smith, who is expected to depend heavily this season on returning all-conference guards Tanner Brown and Jacob Harvey.

Harvey averaged 12.4 points per game for the Tigers last year. He hit 68 three-pointers and shot at a 42-percent clip from beyond the arc. Brown averaged 11.6 points and 4.5 rebounds. Trinity is 53-15 under Smith, who is entering his fourth season at the university.

Referees add spice to a UTSA fall camp basketball practice

For the first time this fall, the UTSA Roadrunners took the court with referees blowing whistles on infractions against the rules.

The Roadrunners, led by senior guard Japhet Medor, seemed to adapt well during a spirited Thursday afternoon workout. Coach Steve Henson said he thought it was a positive experience.

“I thought we’d be fouling a lot more, because we’ve been very aggressive in practice,” Henson said. “I was glad to see they didn’t call a ton of hand-checks on us. They called a couple of moving screens, which was not surprising.

“There (were) a few fouls we need to clean up. But I think players knew we were going to have officials here toda, so they were a little excited. Felt more like a scrimmage day than a practice day.”

Henson said the team overall had good energy.

“I thought the ball really moved,” he said. “We made some good plays, some really good plays, for each other. Got some wide open looks. Three-point shooters knocked down shots today. That was really good to see.”

Noting that the Roadrunners “weren’t always the most athletic” team in Conference USA last year, the coach was pleasantly surprised at some of the aesthetics.

“We had two or three possessions where we had two or three guys above the rim, tapping,” he said. “(We had) some big-time offensive rebounda from different guys. I was pretty encouraged.”

The duel between speedy point guards was entertaining, with Medor and sophomore Christian Tucker taking turns either setting up teammates or making shots.

“We’re obviously talking a lot about Japhet,” Henson said. “We know (Erik) Czumbel can slide over there and help us, as well. But Christian’s had a good stretch of practices. He’s done a heck of a job.

“He did fine this summer, but I think he’s gotten a lot better the last two or three weeks. Now today, I though Japhet just had a different explosiveness about him, early on in practice. I thought he had an extra gear today.”

Medor, a 6-footer, alternately would use his speed either to burst into the paint or to jump a passing lane for a defelection. Tipping one errant pass, Medor took it three quarters of the length of the court, with Jacob Germany following along.

Germany ended up dunking it.

UTSA practice at a glance

Slicing and dicing

UTEP’s second-half shooting stops UTSA’s upset bid

Down by 11 at halftime and struggling on offense, the UTEP Miners heated up with seven 3-pointers after intermission and finally subdued the UTSA Roadrunners, 69-64, on Thursday night at the Haskins Center in El Paso.

UTEP, paced in the second half by long-distance shooting from Jorell Saterfield, handed UTSA its fifth straight loss and kept the Roadrunners winless in Conference USA. The Miners have won two in a row and three of their last four.

Dogged by injuries and Covid-19 issues, the Roadrunners played only seven players — six of them on scholarship, plus walk-on forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. Division I basketball programs are allowed up to 13 scholarships.


The Roadrunners, sparked by Addo-Ankrah’s nine points off the bench in 17 minutes, stayed in the game through much of the second half until the Miners took over.


“We’re not going to let our guys off the hook,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “We had enough guys to play, and we had enough guys to win. We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch. Need to be a little tougher.

“Yeah, there was some fatigue. Some guys had never played big minutes (in college). Especially the young guys who had never done it … Isaiah, for him to go in there in that setting and do what he did, was pretty impressive.”

Germany’s big night

Junior center Jacob Germany led the Roadrunners with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He hit 9 of 18 from the field, including some long jump hooks. Senior guard Darius McNeill added 19 points, 5 rebounds and an assist. Both McNeill and guard Erik Czumbel played all 40 minutes.

Phoenix Ford had 11 points off the bench for the Roadrunners, who shot 63 percent from the field in the first half but only 28 percent after intermission.

For the Miners, Souley Boum scored 22, Saterfield had 18 and Jamal Bieniemy 11 points. Saterfield hit six of the Miners’ 10 three-point shots. Bieniemy also totaled 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

First half

Playing without Jordan Ivy-Curry for the third straight game, the Roadrunners shot 63 percent from the field and rolled to an improbable 38-27 lead before intermission. UTSA hit its first six shots for a 12-3 lead to set the tone.

The Roadrunners also finished strong by hitting its last three before the half. Germany, a 6-foot-11 lefthander, led the way with 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting. McNeill started and scored 10.

On the defensive end, UTSA was just as effective, holding UTEP to 33 percent (10 of 30 afield), with Boum scoring 13 to keep his team in the game.

The Roadrunners started with a lineup that included McNeill and Erik Czumbel at the guards, Lamin Sabally and Lachlan Bofinger at forwards and Germany in the post.


The UTSA men’s basketball program announced that the following players would not be available for Thursday night’s road game against the UTEP Miners: Aleu Aleu is out with a season-ending injury. Also, Josh Farmer, Jordan Ivy-Curry and Christian Tucker are all in COVID protocols.

Within the past few weeks, the Roadrunners have also lost guard Dhieu Deing, who left the team to turn professional, and power forward Cedrick Alley, Jr., who is academically ineligible. Both are expected to be lost for the season. Deing was the team’s leading scorer and Alley was the leading rebounder.


UTSA 7-12, 0-6
UTEP 10-8, 3-3

Coming up

Sunday — UTEP at UTSA, 3 p.m.
Jan. 27 — FIU at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 — FAU at UTSA, 1 p.m.
Feb. 3 — UTSA at Rice, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5 — UTSA at North Texas, 5 p.m.
Feb. 7 — UTSA at Middle Tennessee, TBD

UTSA walk-on Christian Tucker makes his presence known

Christian Tucker. UTSA beat St. Mary's 76-65 in men's basketball on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Christian Tucker, a 6-foot-3 guard from Chandler, Ariz., has been around the game all his life. His father was director of security for the Phoenix Suns. — Photo by Joe Alexander

With a key player injured and with the Conference USA portion of the schedule looming at the end of the month, the UTSA Roadrunners clearly will need a boost in the next three or four games.

They’ll need to develop some additional firepower to augment the production of Dhieu Deing, Jacob Germany, Jordan Ivy-Curry and Cedrick Alley Jr. They’ll need a better flow to their offense, for sure.

When the ball swings around the perimeter, and it lands in the hands of someone who bobbles it or hesitates, UTSA can look extremely ordinary and, against the better teams, quite vulnerable.

To be better, the team will need someone else to emerge.

Lately, one source of optimism has been supplied by walk-on freshman guard Christian Tucker, who has stepped into an injury-related void in the backcourt and has slowly started to gain the confidence of coaches.

In the absence of senior Darius McNeill, who has a foot injury, hasn’t played in the last two games and still isn’t practicing, Tucker has jumped in to try and make a name for himself.

Given the opportunity, the 6-foot-3 walk-on from Chandler, Ariz., has shown a savvy presence, modest bursts of offense and some clutch play.

Averaging about 15 minutes in UTSA’s last three games, Tucker has scored a combined 14 points in that stretch, displaying a knack for driving, drawing contact in the paint and knocking down free throws.

He is 11 for 13 at the line combined against Lamar, St. Mary’s and Phoenix, Ariz.-based Grand Canyon University.

“I feel like my all-around game is pretty good,” Tucker said. “But every time I’m able to get in the paint to make a play, or make a strong layup, I feel like I can do that. Not really many people can stop me from doing that, so I might as well just go to it.”

Tucker scored nine points in 12 minutes off the bench in a 79-73 victory over Lamar on Nov. 24. McNeill went down with a foot injury that day, so it was a welcome sight for Roadrunners coaches.

“He’s doing a heck of a job,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “First night we really played him, you could see his court savvy. His gamesmanship. Drew a bunch of fouls that night.

“He had a couple of games where the defense got after him pretty good. But then he settled back down. Made some big shots. Made some big free throws for us.”

Another moment came against St. Mary’s on Nov. 29 when he took a pass from Deing, drove to the rim and was fouled in the waning moments of a close game. He made both free throws to help seal the victory.

“He’s a real confident guy,” Henson said. “Very mature, you know. I’m not surprised. Again, he wasn’t playing at all and then we threw him in there.

“So, he’s going to continue getting comfortable. Like I said, he’s got the right maturity level and confidence level to be able to do what he did.

“That wasn’t easy. To just throw him in there all of a sudden. He’s produced pretty well.”

Tucker, a native of Mission Hills, Calif., moved to the Phoenix area when he was a toddler.

Though he enjoyed playing soccer and flag football as a kid, basketball was his passion.

His father worked as director of security for the Phoenix Suns, so he was around some of the greatest players in the NBA.

“It’s been really good for me,” Tucker said. “Being surrounded by basketball my whole life, it’s pretty much all I know. Watching NBA players, watching all sorts of players compete … has been really good.”

Watching him at practice, you get the feeling that he would enjoy playing basketball even if games were held on a black top somewhere, with chains hanging on the rims instead of nets.

A few days ago, his group made a defensive stop, prompting Tucker to let out a loud scream that could probably be heard in the upper reaches of the Convocation Center.

At the start of the year, he wasn’t playing. Now he is, and Tucker said he welcomes the opportunity. He admitted it feels “really” good.

“My biggest thing is doing whatever it takes to make sure we win,” he said. “As long as I keep doing that, I feel like I can keep getting playing time.”

Coming up

Saturday, 3 p.m. — UTSA (5-4) vs. Sam Houston State (3-5), at Houston, in the Toyota Center.