No. 24 Florida Atlantic rides strong bench play to an 83-64 victory over UTSA

Christian Tucker. 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

Christian Tucker started at point guard in the absence of injured Japhet Medor against the Conference USA-leading FAU Owls. Tucker finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

First, a bad omen emerged. UTSA point guard Japhet Medor didn’t come out for warmups. Then, the alarm bells, metaphorically speaking, started to go off. A few minutes before game time, Medor stepped onto the court at the Convocation Center, wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

With the team’s leading scorer injured and unable to play on a foot sprain, the end result was all too predictable.

Japhet Medor. 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

UTSA starting point guard Japhet Medor (at right) sat out with a foot sprain and is tentatively listed as doubtful to play Saturday at home against the FIU Panthers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The 24th-ranked Florida Atlantic University Owls, running waves of talented players onto the floor for 40 minutes, rolled to an 83-64 victory over the struggling Roadrunners. The game carried some historic significance for UTSA in that it was the first time in 42 years that it had hosted a ranked opponent on campus.

That sort of novelty was fun for fans to think about initially, in terms of what it could mean if the team could spring an upset. In the end, though, the game turned into just another painful experience, as the Roadrunners have lost five in a row and 12 of 15.

Guards Johnell Davis (14 points) and Alijah Martin (11) came off the bench to spark the Owls to their 17th straight victory. UTSA was within six early in the second half, but, later, a 19-0 run by FAU turned it into a runaway. In the last few minutes, the Owls led by as many as 27 points.

In all, the FAU reserves outscored UTSA’s 44-26. The visitors also crushed the Roadrunners in fast-break and second-chance points.

FAU coach Dusty May said it’s been fun to coach a team with so many talented athletes.

“It’s very comforting knowing the group that’s not starting the game is equally explosive and capable,” said May, who’s in his fifth year with the Owls. “And, they support each other. They share minutes. They share shots. They play unselfishly … When you have players that display those characteristics, it makes it so much more fun to coach.”

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’s Florida Atlantic Owls have won 17 games in a row for the second-longest winning streak in the nation. – Photo by Joe Alexander

For UTSA, senior center Jacob Germany notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in his first game back after missing two with a concussion. Freshman guard DJ Richards had a hot start early in the second half but cooled off and finished with 13 points. Christian Tucker, starting for Medor at the point, scored 11.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said the Roadrunners were hurt in the first half with FAU players tipping out missed shots to create second chances. When the Roadrunners started doing a better job on the glass, they put together a run after halftime.

“Our guards did a better job of rebounding,” the coach said. “On the other end of the floor, we started making one more pass. Got some really good looks. DJ and (John) Buggs knocked down a couple of shots. Just started the second half the right way. I liked what we did for quite a stretch there.”

In response, FAU unleashed guards like Davis, Jalen Gaffney, Michael Forrest and Martin, who all contributed during the 19-point streak. So did 7-foot center Vladislav Goldin. When Gaffney assisted to Martin for a layup with 8:08 remaining, the Owls were up 75-48.

“That run was frustrating,” Henson said. “That’s happened to us on a few other occasions this year. We’re continuing to try to figure out how to offset those. They were just kind of steady. On their end, they’d get a bucket, or two or three. We came down and got the right shot. On many of those occasions, we had decent possessions.

“We had had a pretty good mindset during that stretch, but we weren’t converting. Ball wasn’t going in the hole. It was going in the hole for them. Then we had a stretch where we turned it over a few times in a row, and that’s where it got away from us.”

Steve Henson. 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

Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners made a push early in the second half to come within six points of the 24th-ranked team in the nation. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Though Henson praised Tucker for what he called “an outstanding” effort, the team will be missing a key element of its identity for as long as Medor is out of the lineup. The coach said his starting point guard and leading scorer tweaked the foot late in a practice held on Wednesday afternoon.

“We weren’t out there very long, but probably 15 or 20 minutes from being done, he drove it real aggressively, got bumped and immediately felt it, a foot sprain,” the coach said. “It’s not the ankle. It’s the outside of the foot.

“He’s had some other foot injuries in the past. This one, the feeling was a little different. Pretty concerning to him. We went back and forth today. We thought at one point that if the X-ray came back negative, that maybe he could give it a go. It did come back negative, but he just didn’t feel good enough to go.”

Henson said he’d be surprised if Medor practices on Friday. As for Saturday’s 3 p.m. home game against the FIU Panthers, the coach speculated that it’s doubtful that the 6-foot senior from Florida will play.

“We’ll just have to see how he’s feeling,” the coach said.

Medor is leading the Roadrunners in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game. He had his career high of 30 on Monday against Rice. Medor is also the team’s leader in assists (3.8) and is tied for third in rebounding (3.5).

Records

FAU 18-1, 8-0
UTSA 7-13, 1-8

Coming up

FIU at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Notable

The College of Charleston has the longest winning streak in the nation at 19 after a victory Thursday night against Monmouth. Florida Atlantic’s 17-game streak is No. 2 on the list. Only four one-win teams remain in NCAA Division I — Houston (18-1), Purdue (18-1), Charleston (20-1) and FAU (18-1).

The only other UTSA game in San Antonio with a Top 25 opponent was played in November 1981 against 18th-ranked Arkansas. It was played downtown at the old HemisFair Arena. In UTSA’s first game as a basketball program, Arkansas won, 71-42. In 42 years, all of it in NCAA Division I, UTSA is 1-18 against teams in the Top 25.

Analyzing the first half

The Owls unleashed a quick and athletic backcourt on the UTSA Roadrunners, rolling behind Brandon Weatherspoon, Nick Boyd and Bryan Greenlee to a 46-30 lead at halftime.

Weatherspoon, a 6-4 junior, got off to a fast start and finished the first period with 10 points on four of seven shooting. Boyd added eight points and three rebounds, all while Bryan Greenlee ran the attack with four assists.

Playing without leading scorer Japhet Medor, the Roadrunners simply couldn’t keep up with the conference’s best team.

UTSA was within eight points with eight minutes left in the half, and then suddenly FAU started to sprint away. The Owls ripped off 12 straight points in a three-minute stretch to boost the lead to 39-19.

Christian Tucker, starting at the point for Medor, had a sold half with 11 points, two rebounds and an assist. Germany had nine points and nine rebounds in 12 minutes.

Getting underway

The Panthers struck early Thursday night, combining effective offense and solid defense to build a 23-14 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half.

Brandon Weatherspoon hit three of four shots and had eight points. Guard Alijah Martin contributed a highlight when he ran the floor on the fast break and threw down a ferocious dunk.

The Roadrunners started the game with Christian Tucker at the point in place of Medor, flanked by John Buggs III and DJ Richards. Massal Diouf and Aleu Aleu started at the two inside positions.

UTSA’s Germany set to return against the No. 24 FAU Owls

Jacob Germany. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Jacob Germany is expected to play Thursday night at home against the 24th-ranked FAU Owls. Germany is averaging 11.4 points and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With the struggling UTSA men’s basketball program set to take on a historic challenge, center Jacob Germany is expected to return Thursday night when the Roadrunners host the 24th-ranked Florida Atlantic University Owls in Conference USA play.

The Roadrunners, on a four-game losing streak, will play the explosive, once-beaten Owls on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center. Dusty May-coached FAU, from Boca Raton, Fla., moved into the AP Top 25 on Monday.

On Monday night, the Owls won at Western Kentucky for their 16th straight victory. All of which set the stage for a first — FAU will be the first ranked team that UTSA men’s basketball has hosted on campus.

Steve Henson. Rice beat UTSA 88-81 in overtime in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson says he’s excited to have center Jacob Germany available to play against the FAU Owls. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson made the announcement about Germany’s return from a concussion after his team’s Wednesday afternoon practice. The 6-foot-11 senior from Oklahoma has been out since he took a few blows to the head against UTEP on Jan. 11 in El Paso.

He has missed the team’s last two games.

“He looked good (today),” Henson said. “You could tell he was feeling good, just walking around the last few days. He’s looking good, feeling good. Process has gone a little faster than I would have thought.”

Another hopeful sign for UTSA centered on Isaiah Addo-Ankrah and 7-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr., two other injured players, who also practiced on a limited basis. Neither, however, will be ready against FAU.

Henson didn’t say directly whether Germany would start, but things seem to be trending in that direction.

“He hasn’t been out that long, so the conditioning won’t be a big factor for him,” Henson said. “So, whether we start him or bring him off the bench, it doesn’t really matter. He’ll settle into that rotation and probably get some quality minutes.

“We’re excited to have him back.”

UTSA (7-12, 1-7 C-USA) hasn’t had much luck in conference play and has lost 11 of its last 14. The team is coming off a heart-wrenching 88-81 overtime loss to Rice on Monday night. Regardless, the opportunity to do something special looms against C-USA leading FAU (17-1, 7-0).

Through their 42-year history, the Roadrunners are 1-17 against ranked opponents, with the lone victory coming in December 1994 at 13th-ranked Arizona State, 87-85, in overtime. In their last meeting against a Top 25 foe, the Roadrunners lost 82-50 in November 2019 at 17th-ranked Utah State.

In the only previous occasion when the UTSA men hosted a ranked opponent in San Antonio, the Roadrunners were in their first season and in their first game, taking on Eddie Sutton’s 18th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks on Nov. 30, 1981 at the old HemisFair Arena.

The Razorbacks, with future NBA guards Darrell Walker and Alvin Robertson, won 71-42 in the game played in downtown San Antonio at the former home of the Spurs. Once situated south of what is now the Grand Hyatt Hotel and north of the Tower of the Americas, the arena was razed in 1995 to make way for convention center expansion.

In regard to playing FAU, Germamy is a realist. He knows his team is struggling. But he said at courtside after practice that he’s excited about the possibilities.

“I used to say it more as a freshman, but I look forward to a challenge like that,” Germany said.

For UTSA, the last few months have been hard to handle. Since a 4-1 start, the team has lost 11 of its last 14 and four in a row.

Germany sat out a 72-54 road loss to Charlotte on Saturday. On Monday, he also watched from the bench as his friends played well for most of the night against Rice, only to be outscored 21-5 in the last seven minutes of regulation and 16-9 in overtime — on their home court.

For the first time since he’s been at UTSA, he didn’t play and was forced to deal with all of those emotions.

“It was tough,” Germany said. “It was weird. Honestly, I can’t really even explain it, it was so weird. I haven’t missed a game since eighth grade. I felt, like, out of place almost … I felt like I wanted to help them.

“Man, such a terrible feeling. I hated that. I’m thankful I’ve been able to come back so fast. It’s the first games I’ve missed in my career here. It kind of opened my eyes to be thankful for my good health.”

Germany said he remembers getting hit with two elbows against UTEP in El Paso.

“One, on a rebound, hit me on the top of the nose,” he said. “The second one, there was actually a knot about the size of a golf ball on my head. I was fine after it happened. But once I got to the locker room I was so out of it, I don’t really remember it that much.

“The next day, flying (back to San Antonio), it didn’t really help. I was tired. Kind of just out of it a little bit.”

Germany said he’s worked his way back into physical activity the past few days, leading into the Wednesday practice, in which he went through half-court drills and ran some sprints.

“Today I had limited contact, and (on Thursday), I’ll be OK,” he said.

Coming up

FAU at UTSA, Thursday, 7 p.m.
FIU at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Records

FAU (17-1, 7-0)
UTSA (7-12, 1-7)

Notable

Coach Steve Henson said he thinks Isaiah Addo-Ankrah is close to playing again after rehabilitating a wrist fracture. Addo-Ankrah worked out on a limited basis Wednesday, doing some shooting on the side.

He won’t play against FAU on Thursday, but he’s expected to ramp up activity Friday. Henson said he doesn’t have “high expectations” that he could play Saturday against FIU, but said he could be back for a Jan. 26 road game at North Texas.

Addo-Ankrah, one of the team’s best three-point shooters, has been out eight-straight games — all in conference.

Center Carlton Linguard, Jr., who has not played this season, still has two hurdles to overcome before he can play. First, he needs to get healthy. In addition, he needs clearance from the NCAA on an academic issue.

Physically, he’s getting better. Out for much of the fall with a knee injury and then with a concussion, he did some work in half-court situations Wednesday. He also ran sprints and shot the ball on the side. Henson said he could transition into some contact work by Friday.

As for the possibility that he could be cleared to play from an eligibility standpoint, it is apparently in the hands of the NCAA. Henson said he hoped to hear something this week but said he didn’t have anything to report.

Freshman fuels late run as FAU defeats UTSA, 73-64

Freshman guard Alijah Martin scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half Saturday afternoon as the FAU Owls rallied for a 73-64 victory over the offensively-challenged UTSA Roadrunners.

Martin and Bryan Greenlee, who also scored 16, hit key shots in an 8-0 run for the Owls in the final three minutes of the ball game at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Steve Henson. Florida Atlantic beat UTSA 73-64 on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson worked the sideline Saturday as his team battled the FAU Owls. – Photo by Joe Alexander

During the Owls’ final push, the Roadrunners had several opportunities to turn the momentum in their favor but couldn’t get it done.

“Same story,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Just can’t get the ball to go in the hole.”

After leading by three at halftime, the Roadrunners shot 25.6 percent in the second half and finished with 33.8 percent for the game. As a result, their percentage for the season dropped to 38.0, which ranks last in Conference USA.

Down by nine points with six minutes remaining, the Roadrunners started a charge that felt a little like Thursday night, when they rallied for a victory over the FIU Panthers.

UTSA, behind guard Darius McNeill, surged on an 11-3 streak over the next three minutes.

McNeill had seven points and an assist in the run. His jumper from just outside the paint brought the Roadrunners to within one, 65-64, with 3:18 remaining.

Jordan Ivy-Curry hit a long shot at the buzzer at the end of the first half. Florida Atlantic beat UTSA 73-64 on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry hit a long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer against Florida Atlantic. Ivy-Curry led UTSA with 19 points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

At that point, the Roadrunners couldn’t get a break or score another point for the rest of the afternoon.

After McNeill misfired on a three-point attempt that would have vaulted UTSA into the lead, FAU came down and missed on a Greenlee drive.

A clutch offensive rebound by forward Bitumba Baruti allowed the Owls another opportunity, and Greenlee delivered on a three from the wing that made it 68-64.

As the clocked ticked into the two-minute range, defenses tightened and both UTSA and FAU misfired on three-point attempts. Trailing by four, UTSA would have a chance.

But in one of the key sequences, the Roadrunners made an aggressive play that could have been a momentum changer, only to see it go awry.

Guard Dhieu Deing drove baseline and passed on a difficult maneuver under the basket to teammate Jacob Germany. As it turned out, the pass was low, and Germany couldn’t hang on to it.

Jacob Germany. Florida Atlantic beat UTSA 73-64 on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany had 11 points and 10 rebounds against FAU. The 6-11 center hit 5 of 11 from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Owls advanced it the other way, leading to a driving layup by Martin and a 70-64 lead for FAU with 56 seconds left.

On the next possession, the Roadrunners kept shooting and rebounding and shooting again, coming up with nothing as they skidded to their 10th loss in their last 12 games.

UTSA is 1-8 in conference.

“We’re just too streaky right now,” Henson said. “Confidence, I think, probably is an issue overall. You know, shots going in becomes contagious. Shots not going in becomes contagious. We’re struggling.”

The Owls clearly had something to do with the Roadrunners’ problems. Unlike the Roadrunners, the Owls had several players who looked confident in their offensive games.

Martin, for instance, hit six of 10 from the field. He also nailed four of eight from 3-point territory. In an all-around solid performance, the 6-2 guard from Summit, Miss., was a handful on the glass with nine rebounds. He also passed for four assists.

Greenlee hit the big three at the end.

Junior guard Michael Forrest, FAU’s leading scorer, wasn’t great. He hit only two of six from the field and scored 12 points. But he stepped up and contributed in other areas. He knocked down seven of eight of his free throws, leading a 22 of 26 showing at the line for the Owls.

Freshman guard Johnell Davis led the Owls off the bench. The 6-4 freshman had 15 points and six rebounds.

Records

FAU 12-9, 5-3
UTSA 8-14, 1-8

Coming up

Feb. 3 — UTSA at Rice
Feb. 5 — UTSA at North Texas
Feb. 7 — UTSA at Middle Tennessee

Notable

UTSA hit two three-pointers in the final minute of the first half to take a 38-35 lead. In the second half, the shots didn’t fall. The Roadrunners made only 10 of 39 for 25.6 percent after halftime. They hit 33.8 percent for the game.

Jordan Ivy-Curry led UTSA with 19 points. But after playing 34 minutes on Thursday, Ivy-Curry didn’t seem to have quite the lift on his jumpers. He hit only seven of 24 from the field.

Germany, who played 35 minutes Thursday, was 5 of 11 from the field and scored 11. He had 10 rebounds. Dhieu Deing suffered a tough day in hitting only three of 14 shots. He scored eight points.

Roadrunners hope to take another step forward today

Rejuvenated by the return of two of their best players, the UTSA Roadrunners will attempt to complete their first Conference USA sweep of the season when they host the FAU Owls Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat Florida International 73-66 on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

After playing 35 minutes Thursday night, UTSA center Jacob Germany will be tested in a quick turnaround as the Roadrunners host the FAU Owls Saturday afternoon. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“The message here is, keep building,” Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said after Thursday night’s 73-66 victory over the FIU Panthers snapped a six-game losing streak.

UTSA’s zone defense held FIU to 26 percent shooting in the first half. After intermission, the offense started to percolate, with the Roadrunners hitting five 3-pointers.

Dhieu Deing hit three of those shots from long distance, a hopeful sign for an offense averaging a C-USA low 67 points.

In January, UTSA played most of the month without Deing and Jordan Ivy-Curry. With both back in the lineup, Jacob Germany was freed up to score 23 points, while Deing had 19 and Ivy-Curry 17.

Now it’s time to see if the team can generate the same level of performance after a quick turnaround.

A night game on Thursday, followed by a 1 p.m. tipoff on a Saturday, will test the Roadrunners’ conditioning and depth.

On Thursday night, Germany played 35 minutes, Ivy-Curry 34 and Deing 26.

Deing had been away from the team for a little more than three weeks, in limbo while weighing whether he wanted to re-join the team. Ivy-Curry had been out for two weeks in Covid protocols.

FAU will enter the game under challenging circumstances, as well. The Owls’ itinerary this week included a flight from their Florida home all the way to El Paso, where they played and lost 70-68 to UTEP Thursday night.

After traveling to San Antonio, the Owls hope to hit a few more shots against the Roadrunners than they did against the Miners.

Based on their track record, a breakout is possible. As one of the better offenses in the conference, FAU has averaged 74.8 points on 46 percent shooting.

The Owls have knocked down 180 three-point shots, led by guards Michael Forrest and Alijah Martin.

Records

FAU 11-9, 4-3
UTSA 8-13, 1-7

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.

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.