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.

Incarnate Word’s Shon Robinson sinks a game-winner with less than a second remaining

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Shon Robinson hit a contested 6-foot jumper with two-tenths of a second left as the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals beat the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 67-66 Wednesday night.

As soon as he made the shot, Robinson celebrated with fans on the front row at UIW’s McDermott Center. But the game wasn’t over. Officials put two-tenths back on the clock.

The visiting team from Jacksonville, Ala., subsequently tried a long pass from the baseline to the other end that was batted away as the horn sounded, ending quite a dramatic contest.

On the day before Thanksgiving, UIW (3-2) nearly blew the home game that it seemingly had well in hand. Early in the second half, with 18:40 left on the clock, the Cardinals led by 18 points. They took a 42-24 lead at that juncture on two Sky Wicks free throws.

Undeterred, Jacksonville State (1-4) started to make a run. With 4:47 remaining, the Gamecocks cut the deficit to nine on a Quincy Clark step-back jumper.

UIW’s Josh Morgan made it a 10-point game 20 seconds later when he hit a free throw. But Jacksonville State would not go away. The Gamecocks surged on a KyKy Tandy-led 14-0 run to take a four-point lead. Tandy hit two long threes in the streak.

With Jacksonville State leading 66-62 and only 16 seconds left in the game, the momentum swung back to the home team, as UIW responded with a series of clutch plays to win it. First, Robinson hit two free throws. Next, Josiah Hammons stole an inbounds pass to give the ball back to the Cardinals.

After UIW’s Davante Davis missed two free throws, Robinson rebounded the second one and was fouled. Going to the line, Robinson made the second of two to bring the Cardinals to within 66-65 with 10.1 seconds left.

From there, UIW’s pressure on the inbounds kept Jacksonville State from salting away the victory. First, a trap in corner forced Jacksonville State to call time with 3.7 seconds left.

With Jax State inbounding again, Hammons got a hand on it, deflecting it off Jacksonville State and out of bounds with two seconds remaining. The critical call was upheld on an officials’ review at the monitor.

Next, Elijah Davis inbounded for UIW. Robinson, a 6-foot-9 graduate transfer from Austin Peay, flashed through the paint, caught the pass and curled back toward the basket. He pulled up, hung in the air for a moment and then sank the winning bucket.

Coming up

The game on the UIW campus near downtown San Antonio served as an appetizer for three more days of holiday basketball starting Friday on the city’s Northwest side at UTSA. In a multi-team event billed as the Roadrunner/Cardinal Classic, Jacksonville State will play host UTSA at noon on Friday. On Saturday, UTSA will host UIW at 3 p.m. On Sunday, it will be UIW and Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. in a rematch.


UIW, under first-year coach Shane Heirman, has scored three consecutive victories. The first was at home over Division III Schreiner, 104-63. The next came on the road at Division I Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 100-81. Finally, UIW rallied at the end to claim a one-point thriller at home over Jacksonville State.

The Gamecocks are coached by Ray Harper, who played two seasons for the late Abe Lemons at Texas in 1980-81 and 1981-82. In ’81-’82, the Longhorns won their first 13 games and soared to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll. But after a season-ending knee injury to forward Mike Wacker, the Horns failed to make the NCAA tournament and Lemons was fired.

Harper went on to finish out his playing career at Kentucky Wesleyan and then started his head coaching career there, as well. He is 564-225 in 25 years as a head coach, part of it in NCAA Division II. Wacker once worked as an assistant coach at UTSA for the late Ken Burmeister and later went on to a long career as head coach at Judson High School. He coached six years at Texas Lutheran University before retiring in 2022.


UIW: Guard Sky Wicks, 21 points and four rebounds. Guard Josiah Hammons, 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Guard Josh Morgan, 10 points, two assists, two rebounds, two steals. Hammons hit five three-point shots and Morgan three. Forward Shon Robinson, seven points on one of seven shooting from the field.

Jacksonville State: Guard KyKy Tandy, 19 points on eight of 16 from the field. Guard Quincy Clark, 13 points on five of nine. Juwan Perdue, nine points and 10 rebounds.

First half

Sky Wicks and Josiah Hammons combined for 20 points as the Cardinals, shooting 51.9 percent from the field, raced to a 38-24 halftime lead on the Gamecocks. Leading by one point, UIW stormed past Jacksonville State on a 21-8 run to close the half.