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.

Olivari, Fiedler lead rally as Rice takes down UTSA in overtime

Japhet Medor. 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

Point guard Japhet Medor led the UTSA Roadrunners with a season-high 30 points on 11 of 21 shooting from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Guard Quincy Olivari tied his season high with 30 points and center Max Fiedler had a triple-double Monday night as the Rice Owls erased an 18-point deficit to down the UTSA Roadrunners, 88-81, in overtime.

Fiedler, a 6-foot-11 junior, hit 10 of 12 shots from the field and finished with 24 points. He also produced 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Playing with poise on UTSA’s home court, the Owls also received a boost from guard Travis Evee in the extra period. The 6-foot-1 playmaker buried a three on the end of a long possession with 1:56 remaining to help the visitors pull away.

Massal Diouf. 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

Massal Diouf (at right) had his hands full all night as he tried to check Rice center Max Fiedler, who finished with a 24-point triple double. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Evee finished with 19 points for the Owls, who improved to 13-5 on the season and 4-3 in Conference USA.

Japhet Medor scored 30 points to lead the Roadrunners. UTSA fell to 7-12 overall and 1-7 in the C-USA despite playing well for most of regulation. The Roadrunners played for the second straight game without injured center Jacob Germany, who is out with a concussion.

Rice coach Scott Pera said “it came down to defense” in climbing out of double-digit deficits that spanned much of both halves.

“I thought (assistant coaches) Van (Green) and Greg (Howell) did a great job making a huge adjustment for the second half,” Pera said in a video posted to Rice’s Twitter page. “We got just enough stops. I thought we could get good shots offensively.

“Obviously, we weren’t making ’em in the first half. Even in the second half, we just struggled. We struggled with things we are normally good at. But our kids are old enough now to stay with it. They also listened to the game plan down the stretch, and that was to own three feet and in.

“Keep getting that ball three feet and in. Get to that foul line, because they were in the double bonus. You know, Mekhi (Mason) hit a huge three when Quincy drove. Travis hit a huge three. And then Cam (Sheffield) made an unbelievable play to get us the ball late. And Travis hit a big shot — again (in the overtime).

“Just a great team win, and I thought our three older guys (Olivari, Fiedler and Evee) certainly carried us.”

For UTSA, the loss stung badly. It was the team’s fourth straight setback. It was also a lost chance for the Roadrunners to prove that they could beat one of the better teams in the C-USA.

In addition, they needed the momentum with two home games remaining this week, including a Thursday night test against the conference-leading FAU Owls.

They needed the win, but they couldn’t get it, despite holding an 18-point lead with four minutes left in the first half and a 13-point spread at intermission. When Christian Tucker hit a jumper with 7:06 left in the game, the Roadrunners hiked the advantage to 16.

At that juncture, things started to unravel for the home team.

DJ Richards. 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

Freshman DJ Richards scored 14 points for his seventh straight double-figure scoring effort. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Owls, one of the better offensive squads in the nation, started to roll. Olivari hit a jumper with 6:47 remaining to start a 21-5 run by Rice to the end of regulation.

A couple of misses on the front end of one-and-one free-throw situations and a turnover against the Sheffield-led backcourt pressure in the final minute cost UTSA dearly.

In addition, Medor had a chance to win it for the Roadrunners with 1.1 seconds left, but he couldn’t get it done. With UTSA trailing by one, he went to the free throw line and missed the first attempt, and then he tied it 72-72 by knocking down the second.

Once the game reached overtime, the Owls took control. They played better defense and outscored the Roadrunners 16-9. With UTSA failing to generate offense on its own end, Olivari knocked down six free throws in the final 1:24 to seal it.

Asked about the mood in the locker room afterward, UTSA coach Steve Henson said it “was what it should be.”

“Our guys were devastated,” the coach said. “This one hurts bad. I wouldn’t expect any other response.”

Notable

Jacob Germany suffered the concussion sometime during the UTEP game last Wednesday in El Paso, Henson said. As a result, he sat out last Saturday at Charlotte and again Monday night against Rice.

Henson said he doesn’t expect Germany to to play on Thursday against the FAU Owls. He said “there’s a chance” that the 6-foot-11 senior will be ready by Saturday.

The timeline for the return of forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah is also murky. Addo-Ankrah has missed all eight conference games with a fracture in his left wrist. Henson said he could begin shooting some at the end of this week and could have the cast removed next week.

Records

Rice 13-5, 4-3
UTSA 7-12, 1-7

Coming up

FAU at UTSA, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Individuals

Rice — Guard Quincy Olivari scored 30 and pulled down eight rebounds. He also had 30 points on Dec. 17 at home against Northwestern State and on Dec. 4 on the road at Texas State. Olivari hit nine of 18 from the field and five of 12 on three-pointers. Max Fiedler had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. Five of his rebounds were on the offensive end. Travis Evee had 19 points and five assists.

Aleu Aleu. 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

With Jacob Germany not playing, Aleu Aleu started at forward and contributed nine points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA — Japhet Medor scored 30 points, including 19 points on seven of 11 shooting from the floor in the first half. In the second half, he cooled off to three for eight, and then one for two in the overtime. On free throws, Medor was six for eight for the game, but he missed a couple in the final minute. DJ Richards scored 14 and John Buggs III 13. Aleu Aleu started and produced nine points, eight rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes.

First half

Playing without their starting center for the second straight game, the Roadrunners kicked up the tempo and raced to a 45-32 halftime lead on the Owls.

UTSA hit eight three-point shots en route to one of their best offensive halves in weeks. Buggs and Richards buried three triples each, and Medor had two. Medor led the way with 19 points and three assists.

The Roadrunners played with pace from the outset. Even though the Owls rank as one of the top-scoring teams in NCAA Division I, the Roadrunners didn’t back down from the challenge. With 4:07 remaining, they had built their biggest lead at 18 points.

UTSA played without injured senior center Jacob Germany for the second game in a row.

UTSA men to embark on a C-USA trip to Louisiana Tech, UAB

Japhet Medor. 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 guard Japhet Medor returned to practice Wednesday after experience holiday travel delays in getting to San Antonio from his home in Florida. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Forging through a few uncertainties coming out of the Christmas break, the UTSA Roadrunners are scheduled to take a bus ride to Louisiana today on their first Conference USA trip of the season.

The Roadrunners (6-6, 0-1) are scheduled to play the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-5, 0-1) on Thursday night in Ruston. Next up, UTSA will move on to Alabama to face the UAB Blazers on Saturday.

The most pressing issue for UTSA centers around starting point guard Japhet Medor.

Steve Henson. 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

Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners hope to gain traction in the Conference USA race with a victory at Louisiana Tech. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Like most players on the team, Medor went home for the holidays. He was in Florida visiting family as the Roadrunners took three days off following a Dec. 22 home loss to North Texas.

When UTSA returned to on campus workouts Monday, Medor was not there.

Like a lot of people traveling this week, he had been unable to get from Point A to Point B on his itinerary. The last time I checked with Roadrunners coach Steve Henson on Tuesday afternoon, Medor was expected to arrive in San Antonio some time Tuesday night.

The team’s leading scorer was due to work out with the team Wednesday morning before everyone boarded a bus bound for Ruston. In a late-breaking development, the Medor travel issue has been resolved.

Henson just texted to say that Medor had arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday night, as scheduled, and practiced with the team on Wednesday.

Another issue of note was the ongoing question surrounding the status of 7-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr. UTSA, as expected, has forwarded its request to the NCAA to clear a path for the former Stevens High School standout to gain immediate eligibility.

A transfer from Kansas State, Linguard has been ineligible since he arrived this summer. Henson said Linguard fared well academically in the fall semester, and so UTSA has made the request.

“We’ve submitted the paperwork and hopefully will get an answer from the NCAA soon,” Henson said.

Another unrelated complication in Linguard’s efforts to play this season started to unfold when the team took a mid-December trip to play at New Mexico and Utah. He apparently suffered a concussion on the trip and is now in protocol.

Linguard’s absence from practice was a factor Tuesday afternoon.

“That affected our workout quite a bit,” Henson said. “Our guys hit the wall today. We were without Isaiah (Addo-Ankrah), Carlton and Japhet. So that gives us 12 bodies and two point guards (Erik Czumbel and Christian Tucker).

“So they had to go every single rep. Every single rep they were on the court … There wasn’t much down time for anybody. There was just one sub on each team.”

Linguard’s situation could be vital to the long-term success of the team this year. Since he started to practice full speed following a months-long knee rehabilitation, he showed quickness, jumping ability and multiple skills.

Henson said he doesn’t know how long it will take the NCAA to sort out Linguard’s academic issue.

“My belief is that they move a little faster (on requests) during the season,” the coach said. “The NCAA knows people are sitting around waiting on that. But I think there’s a lot of stuff going on with the (football) bowl games, waivers and appeals and those kind of things.

“I would hope (in Linguard’s case) relatively soon. It’s possible they look at it and want to know more information. More clarification. Our compliance office does a great job handling those situations. We kind of lean on them for it.”

Henson said Linguard “did a very good job in the classroom, an excellent job” in the fall semester. That was part of the process, to show that since he has been in school at UTSA, that he was making progress, the coach said.

“He’s a good student,” Henson said. “He’s got a good (grade point average). We just got to show that we’ve got everything lined up for him. That he’s in good standing. That he’s in good hands. That the move here has been positive for him.”

As for Addo-Ankrah, one of UTSA’s top three-point shooters, it was announced prior to UTSA’s Dec. 22 game against North Texas that he would be out a month with a fracture in his left wrist. It’s his non-shooting hand.

If everything works out on his recovery timeline, fans might expect to see the Houston native back on the floor some time around the first of February.

Henson, talking after Tuesday afternoon’s workout, smiled when it was suggested that a healthy Addo-Ankrah and an eligible and healthy Linguard were two of his recent requests to Santa Claus.

“Those would have been pretty high on the Christmas list, for sure,” the coach said.

Coming up

UTSA at Louisiana Tech, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Records

UTSA 6-6, 0-1
Louisiana Tech 7-5, 0-1

Branden Carlson-led Utah romps to a 91-70 victory over UTSA

For the second time in four days on the road, the UTSA Roadrunners faced a team with superior size and quality athleticism at several positions.

In the Utah Utes, they played a team that had beaten the Arizona Wildcats, a top-five opponent, less than two weeks ago.

UTSA raced to an early lead in the first half and then faded down the stretch Tuesday night, falling 91-70 to the Utes.

With 7-foot center Branden Carlson and the Utes defending homecourt at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, they pumped the lead up to 20 points on the Roadrunners for most of the last six minutes of the game, leading by 28 at one point.

UTSA coach Steve Henson, in his postgame remarks, didn’t sugarcoat what happened to his team on the trip. Beaten by 18 at New Mexico on Saturday. Whipped by 21 at Utah.

At the same time, he also was heartened by some good things his team did in both games against opponents that likely will be playing in the NCAA tournament.

“Disappointed we didn’t play better in the second half here,” Henson told UTSA broadcaster Andy Everett. “Our guys practiced so well. I’m so proud of the way they practiced. We traveled. You know, we’ve been on the road here for several days.

“Had a really good practice two nights ago. Had a good practice again last night. They’re doing what we’re asking, for the most part.”

Guard Japhet Medor led the Roadrunners against the Utes, rolling to 23 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Medor, a 6-foot senior transfer from the Florida junior college circuit, also made five steals in a dynamic showing against a Pac-12 Conference contender.

“We’re getting better,” Henson said. “I think we’ve taken some steps here. Both scores were pretty disappointing. But, if we’ll stay together and go back and get to work, I think we’ll keep improving. Different guys are getting a little more comfortable with their roles. That’s what we got to do at this point.”

For Utah, Carlson was the story. The preseason all-conference selection hit 10 of 14 shots from the floor and scored 27 points. He also had eight rebounds, including four on the offensive glass. If that wasn’t enough damage inflicted on the Roadrunners, he also had four blocked shots.

Guards Gabe Madsen and Marco Anthony scored 16 apiece as the Utes (9-2) rallied from a six-point, first-half deficit and won their fifth straight. Anthony, a sixth-year senior from San Antonio Holmes High School, also had 10 rebounds and four assists.

UTSA (5-5) made a go of it early in the game, pushing behind point guard Medor on a 22-4 run. When Medor hit a jumper with 7:05 remaining, the Roadrunners had the Utes down 28-22 and had the home crowd silenced.

“We were playing hard,” Henson said. “That was a big part of it. Kept them off the glass. Didn’t keep them off the glass, kept them from getting rebounds. They were getting shots and there were three guys right around the rim. We had five guys and were able to dig those rebounds out.”

Records

Utah 9-2
UTSA 5-5

Coming up

Bethune-Cookman at UTSA, Sunday, 3 p.m.

Notable

With the loss, UTSA fell to 0-3 on the road this season, with losses at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, New Mexico and Utah. Roadrunners freshman guard D.J. Richards scored 12 points for his third double-figures game in the last four. Senior center Jacob Germany had 10 points and five rebounds. He was four of ten from the field, completing the road trip seven of 19 afield.

The Utes held shooting guard John Buggs to five points on two of seven shooting.

In losing to Utah, UTSA extended a string of futility against Power 5 conference competition, falling to 0-25 since they beat Iowa of the Big Ten, 62-50, in November of 2009. Since the Iowa game, the Roadrunners haven’t won a game against an opponent from the Pac-12, the Big 12, the Big Ten, the Southeastern Conference or the Atlantic Coast Conference. The loss to Utah puts them at 0-6 against teams from the Pac-12 in that stretch.

First half

Trailing by six, the Utes tightened up on defense in the lane late in the half, reeled off plays on both ends of the floor and surged into a 39-34 halftime lead.

Lazar Stefanovic hit a three and Carlson went inside to hit a layup to cap a 17-6 run for the Utes in the final seven minutes.

It was an impressive opening 20-minutes for Carlson, a preseason Pac-12 all conference pick, who had 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

The Roadrunners, sparked by Medor and Richards, attacked on offense and gave the Utes everything they could handle for a five-minute stretch midway through the period.

Medor sparked a 22-4 run, scoring 11 points in the streak. Richards had 10 during the outburst, including a couple of three-point baskets.

Medor and Buggs combine for 46 points as UTSA downs the Prairie View A&M Panthers, 82-75

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

As pages on the calendar flip to November, as the weather turns cooler and as the Thanksgiving holiday comes around, native Floridian Japhet Medor always thinks about the taste of his mother’s macaroni and cheese.

For John Buggs III, his thoughts sometimes take him home to Louisiana and a heaping plate of Cajun turkey.

This year, Medor and Buggs will spend their first turkey day in San Antonio with their new family — with their coaches and teammates in the UTSA basketball program. It promises to be a good day, with a morning practice, followed by lunch at the home of head coach Steve Henson.

John Buggs III. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Shooting guard John Buggs III rises up to let one fly over a defender on the way to 18 points against the Prairie View A&M Panthers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The impending holiday was made all the more special Tuesday night when the surprising Roadrunners won their third straight game and their second straight against a solid, mid-major program in NCAA Division I.

Five days after UTSA downed the two-time defending Sun Belt Conference champion Texas State Bobcats, Medor and Buggs started to cook on high heat offensively in an impressive 82-75 victory over the Prairie View A&M Panthers.

Medor, playing in only his fifth game as a Division I player, followed a 16-point effort against the Bobcats with 28 against the Panthers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Employing quick bursts into the paint and to the rim, he drew 14 fouls and hit 16 of 20 from the free throw line. On top of that, he added seven assists, for good measure.

Not to be outdone, Buggs scored 18 and matched teammate Isaiah Addo-Ankrah with four 3-pointers. As a team, the Roadrunners knocked down 11 from long distance, including two from D.J. Richards and one from Josh Farmer, to keep the Panthers on their heels.

Outside of nine second-half turnovers, the UTSA offense was about as good as coaches could have asked for.

The Roadrunners shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and 52 percent for the game. Additionally, in notching 13 assists on 24 baskets, UTSA underscored once again its emphasis on sharing the ball.

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah snapped out of a shooting slump by making four of seven from 3-point distance.
He had 13 points, two rebounds and two assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Asked about the meaning of a victory over a group of veteran players like the Panthers, who defeated the Pac-12’s Washington State Cougars last week, Medor didn’t hesitate with a reply. “It means that the sky’s the limit for us,” he said. “We have room to improve, and we’re making it happen. So I feel like the sky’s the limit for our team, and we’re going to get better every day.”

Seemingly, as Medor and Buggs have gained confidence, the players around them also have taken a few positive mental steps forward, as well.

“That’s what we talk about,” Henson said. “With Japhet, he did (tonight) exactly what our coaches said he did when (they) went to recruit him (last spring in Florida). I saw him practice. Our coaches saw him play in games. They came back and said he just draws fouls, puts pressure on the defense.

“He showed signs of that here and there (early this month). He had some stretches in the exhibition game (against Schreiner University), just serving everybody up. I mean, in the second half against St. Mary’s, when he took over the game … He’s had stretches before, and then obviously he took over tonight.

“Drawing 14 fouls,” the coach said, looking again at the stat sheet, “I don’t know if I’ve seen that very often.”

Records

UTSA 4-1
Prairie View A&M 3-2

Coming up

The Roadrunners host the 210 San Antonio Shootout this weekend. They’ll play Grambling State on Friday night (at 7:30), followed by games against Dartmouth on Sunday (7:30) and Incarnate Word on Monday (4:30).

Notable

Some in the program might be a bit surprised at the team’s record leading into Thanksgiving after a trip Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for the second game of the season ended with a 75-55 loss. UTSA took a beating in the second half on that Nov. 11 evening on the Gulf Coast, giving up 50 points.

DJ Richards. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman DJ Richards scored eight points in 18 minutes off the bench. He made two of five 3-point shots, giving him nine of 21 for the season. His 42.3 percent on threes ranks second on the team to John Buggs’ 45.2. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In one stretch covering 17:30, the Islanders pounded the Roadrunners, 47-19. What has changed since then? In a sense, not much. But, then again, maybe the game opened some eyes about what can happen when not everyone on the roster is dialed in and ready to play.

“I think that loss at Corpus kind of lit a fire under us, making us not want to feel that feeling again,” Buggs said. “We’re just doing everything we can to power through games and just push through to get the win.”

Individuals

Prairie View A&M — Guard Will Douglas had 19 points on six of 12 shooting. Douglas also hit seven of nine at the line. Guard Jeremiah Gambrell produced 18 points, seven of 18 from the field. He hit two of seven from long distance. Tekorian Smith had 10 points, three assists and three rebounds. Kortrijk Miles produced eight points and four steals off the bench.

UTSA — Japhet Medor had 28 points on six of 10 shooting from the floor. He made 16 of 20 at the free-throw line. In a dominant showing, the Roadrunners’ point guard made three fewer free throws than Prairie View made as a team. John Buggs III had a career-high 18 points and hit four of seven from three. Buggs has made 11 of 18 from distance in his last three games. Isaiah Addo-Ankrah also hit four of seven from distance. A long-distance specialist, he started the season three for 23 in his first four games.

Medor’s first half

UTSA unleashed Medor offensively in the first half, and the Florida native responded with a Jhivvan Jackson-like tour de force. Known mostly as a pass-first point guard at Hillsborough College in Tampa, he scored 18 points as the Roadrunners surged into a 36-32 lead.

The San Antonio Spurs' Keldon Johnson. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson, seated courtside at the Convocation Center, shares a laugh with a friend at the Prairie View-UTSA game. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Playing man-to-man defense, the Panthers simply couldn’t stay in front of the 6-footer, who consistently drove past his man. When that happened, he usually would draw contact from someone else, the whistle usually would blow, and then he’d go to the free-throw line.

“I was told to be more aggressive, and my teammates helped me out a lot,” Medor said. “They closed out on Buggs a lot, and they were denying a lot, so it made it a lot easier.”

Another issue faced by the Panthers’ defense revolved around 6-foot-11 center Jacob Germany, the Roadrunners’ leading scorer from last year. The Panthers seemed reluctant to cheat off Germany, which gave Medor more room to operate.

Buggs and Medor have been in San Antonio working out together since June. In that regard, nothing that Medor does on the floor in a game will surprise Buggs.

“I see this every single day in practice,” he said. “One way or the other, if he’s not having 10 assists, hey, tonight, ya’ll saw 28 points. There’s nothing he really can’t do. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Prairie View’s rise

Under Coach Byron Smith, the Panthers forged records of 22-13, 19-13 and 16-5 in three seasons from 2018-19 through the 2020-21. In 2019, they won both the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular and postseason titles and qualified for the NCAA tournament. Last season, they fell off to 8-19. But coming into San Antonio, they had won three of their first four games, including a 70-59 victory last Tuesday at home against Washington State.

Japhet Medor. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Japhet Medor sank 16 of 20 free throws and scored a career-high 28 points as the UTSA Roadrunners downed the Prairie View A&M Panthers at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Prairie View A&M and its big-guard tandem to challenge the UTSA Roadrunners

Jacob Germany celebrates as time runs out. UTSA beat Texas State 61-56 in men's basketball on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany and the UTSA Roadrunners will try to build on momentum as they host the Prairie View A&M Panthers tonight at the Convocation Center. UTSA had its best game of the season last Thursday night in downing the Texas State Bobcats. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Prairie View A&M Panthers will call on a couple of talented big guards to test the improving UTSA Roadrunners tonight.

Six-foot-five Will Douglas and 6-3 Jeremiah Gambrell will lead the Panthers (3-1) against the Roadrunners (3-1) at the UTSA Convocation Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

A week ago today, the two players with a combined 174 games of experience in NCAA Division I basketball paced Prairie View of the Southwestern Athletic Conference to a 70-59 victory on its home court over the Washington State Cougars.

Douglas, a Prairie View newcomer this season, exploded for 26 points and seven rebounds against the Cougars of the Pac-12. Gambrell scored 19.

Earlier, Washington State had downed the Texas State Bobcats, 83-61, on its home court in Pullman, Wash.

By extended comparison, UTSA played its best game of the season last Thursday in knocking off the Bobcats, 61-56, at the Convocation Center.

Against the Bobcats, the challenge for UTSA was to slow down 5-foot-9 Mason Harrell. Harrell scored 20 on the Roadrunners, but a 2-3 zone defense limited most of the rest of the Texas State offensive threats.

In the meantime, UTSA guards Japhet Medor and John Buggs combined for 29 points to lead the victory.

While Medor and Buggs aren’t the biggest guards in NCAA Division I and may not match up well in size compared to most players they’ll see this season — such as Douglas and Gambrell — they’re showing the ability to play at a high level.

In addition, 6-foot-5 UTSA freshman D.J. Richards is also coming along and gaining more confidence, giving the Roadrunners a chance to grow their offensive capabilities with three unique talents.

Medor is a slasher on the dribble, while Buggs and Richards are two quick-release, 3-point shooting threats.

Lately, Medor is the Roadrunners’ biggest problem for opponents. His quickness is hard to defend, even with help.

The Bobcats couldn’t stay in front of him at the end of a closely-contested game, and UTSA ended up winning by five.

UTSA coach Steve Henson applauded Medor for taking what the Bobcats’ defense was giving him. As the game progressed, Texas State’s defense kept extending, putting more pressure on the perimeter.

“Late in the game, it was super-extended and taking away passes,” Henson said. “When Japhet did beat his own guy, there wasn’t much help (to slow him) from getting to the rim, and we needed that. I wish we had two or three guys who could do that.

“We put (Christian) Tucker in there a little in the first half, because he’s a guy that can give us a little penetration. That’s key. They took us out of our stuff. They manhandled us out on the perimeter.

“You just got to get by your guy, which is what Japhet did, and he converted.”

Defending against Douglas and Gambrell could pose problems for the Roadrunners.

Not only is Douglas talented, he’s also experienced. The Memphis native has played in 102 games in his career, including 72 at SMU over four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21. At Prairie View, he played in 26 last season and in four in this, his sixth season as a collegian. Douglas is averaging 19.8 points on 52 percent shooting from the field.

In addition, he’s one of the Panthers’ best rebounders, averaging 5.5. Gambrell, with 72 games of experience in Division I, also brings experience. The Houston native is a fifth-year player, having spent two years at Western Kentucky and the past three at Prairie View. He’s averaging 13 points, two rebounds and two assists.

Coming up

Prairie View A&M at UTSA, tonight at 7, at the UTSA Convocation Center. The Roadrunners host the 210 San Antonio Shootout this weekend. They’ll play Grambling State on Friday night (at 7:30), followed by games against Dartmouth on Sunday (7:30) and Incarnate Word on Monday (6:30).

Records

UTSA (3-1)
Prairie View A&M (3-1)

An ‘old head’ and his new backcourt mate are set to lead the UTSA Roadrunners

UTSA's John Buggs III, a sophomore guard from Homer, Louisiana, at men's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s John Buggs III, a redshirt sophomore from Homer, La., is expected to start at shooting guard Wednesday night in an exhibition game against the Schreiner Mountaineers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard John Buggs III would like to say that he brings the same athleticism and burst to the basketball court that he did when he was a high school senior in Homer, La. But that would not actually be the case.

After five surgeries, including major reconstructions on each knee, Buggs relies more on guile and finesse than all-out assaults on the rim.

“The high school me, you’d see me dunking on people, that kind of stuff,” he said. “I kind of became an old head (since then). A lot of jump shots (now). A lot of floaters. Not trying to get to the rim. Using a lot of pace. Not trying to blow by people. Kind of more of a mind game now.”

Whatever the case, the “old head,” now listed as a UTSA redshirt sophomore, has proven himself as more than capable of playing for the Roadrunners.

From the start of the summer, through the early fall semester workouts and into the grind of more intense preseason practices, Buggs and backcourt mate Japhet Medor have supplied a steadying presence to a program looking to bounce back from a tough year.

Accordingly, both are expected to start Wednesday night in an exhibition home game against the Schreiner University Mountaineers.

Counting a closed scrimmage in Belton against UT Arlington a few weeks ago, it is UTSA’s second contest of the preseason against another team and its first in front of the fans. The Roadrunners will host Trinity University in the season opener on Monday night.

Medor, a senior, will play the point against Schreiner. The 6-foot-2 Buggs will be stationed at the two guard, with Erik Czumbel, on the wing, at the three. Isaiah Addo-Ankrah will open at the four, while Germany patrols the paint at center.

Earlier this week, the Roadrunners gathered to meet, to discuss individual roles and various topics. Head Coach Steve Henson made one observation that stuck with Germany, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago.

Henson told the players that the newcomers “really helped the (returning players) mature, if that makes sense,” said Germany, who added that he agrees with the sentiment.

“You look at Buggs and Japhet and the way they approach the game, and even Isaiah, they helped Lamin (Sabally) and Josh (Farmer) — even me — mature to the point where we’re just locked in. All in. Completely bought in to this team,” the 6-foot-11 Oklahoman said.

After experiencing the negative vibes of last year’s 10-22 disappointment, Germany said Buggs and Medor brought in an intangible — a positive spirit. He said the feeling spread to the rest of the players on the roster, and even to the coaching staff. “It just clicked really well,” he said.

“Their attitude and personality just made things so much better,” Germany said. “You look forward to seeing them every day.”

Henson said he agrees that the two guards, both of them four years removed from high school, have made a difference in the team’s preparation.

“I don’t think there’s any question,” the coach said. “Just two terrific teammates. Just their nature. I don’t think they did anything consciously to make that happen. It’s just who they are. Both of them are a little older. They’ve been around awhile.”

Medor, who grew up in South Florida, attended prep school for a year and then spent three seasons at the junior college level.

He’s a point guard with speed who loves to distribute. Medor, at 6 feet, can spot up and shoot from the outside, and he does dunk with surprising authority. But his primary function in Henson’s system will be to create for others.

Buggs, from Homer, in northwest Louisiana, also experienced a year of prep school. He then spent one season at the University of Massachusetts in 2019-20, followed by two more at Hill College in central Texas, about 35 miles north of Waco.

At UMass, Buggs played in four games before he blew out his right knee. He never played again for the NCAA Division I Minutemen. One year later, at Hill, in Hillsboro, Buggs injured his left knee in the season opener.

It cost him all of the 2020-21 season.

Once a dynamic 6-foot-2 guard who could electrify with his athleticism, he was relegated to another year of rehabilitation. Last season, Buggs bounced back by averaging 15.2 points per game. Notably, he hit 89 of 188 from 3-point range, good for 47.3 percent.

Buggs said Tuesday afternoon that it feels good to be back in Division I.

“It’s really just a long time coming,” he said. “I mean, it’s all the same. I feel like I been doing the same thing since before Division I. When I was in prep school (in Connecticut, in 2018-19), I pretty much played along with a Division I team. So it’s pretty much the same thing. It all translates.

“I’m just excited to be back on this level. It’s more about proving to myself that I could do it. I feel like I was (written) off with the back-to-back injuries. (With) Covid. All of that. So, it’s just kind of surreal. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for, for a very long time.

“I won’t waste the opportunity. I appreciate it so much. Because, I know a million people would gladly be in my shoes.”

From another angle, this preseason marks the first in years for Buggs in which he feels as if he has been healthy enough to prepare himself properly.

“I had five surgeries in all, on my knees,” he said. “I had one before my first major one. Then after that I just had a lot of them, back-to-back. So it was kind of like two years of straight rehabbing. Watching basketball. Not being able to be on the court.

“So I’m really excited because, this year was like my first offseason to actually train and get up shots and put in work. Because the last two summers, going into the season, like at Hill, I got cleared in October. And the season started in November.

“I really didn’t have (any) summers to get any workouts in. So I’m really excited to see how far I’ve come along.”

Buggs has enjoyed some good moments in the last 30-something days of practices. When he finds a rhythm, his teammates sense that everything he shoots is going to find the bottom of the net. For instance, as Buggs unleashes a jumper from long distance, players often call it good as the ball leaves his hand.

In many instances, they have been correct.

Also, the chemistry between Buggs and Medor has been noticeable. Medor is perhaps the first pass-first point guard that UTSA has had since Giovanni De Nicolao. With his quickness, he can get into the paint, and with his awareness, he can get the ball to shooters — with touch.

Opposing teams will need to pay attention first to Medor, to stop his penetration, but also to Buggs, who apparently has been given something akin to a green light. Likely, he and Addo-Ankrah are the most dangerous three-point threats on the team.

Buggs said it’s been an easy transition for him to make, coming in from his two years at Hillsboro.

“Maybe my (UTSA) coaches want me to shoot a little more,” he said. “But, it’s been easy because the team, they’re all on board with what the coaches are saying. If the coaches say, ‘Buggs, you should have shot that shot,’ then, you have 9 or 10 guys saying, ‘Shoot the ball.’

“There’s no second-guessing. There’s no questioning, so I really appreciate my teammates for that. Especially playing with Japhet Medor. He makes it so easy. You get so many easy shots. It’s been really easy. Really simple.”

Tonight’s exhibition

NCAA Division III Schreiner College at Division I UTSA, 7 p.m. The outcome doesn’t count on either team’s record.

Season opener

UTSA hosts Division III Trinity University on Monday at 7 p.m. The Roadrunners will play next on Nov. 11 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The postseason for the Islanders last year included a Southland Conference title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.

UTSA’s Medor bolsters his career through support from a big family

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

On the court, UTSA senior Japhet Medor likes to consider himself as a pass-first point guard, a distributor of the basketball. A team player. First and foremost, he wants to win and to see his teammates, his brothers, have fun.

1 Japhet Medor UTSA basketball at photo day on Sept. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Japhet Medor is preparing to make his NCAA Division I debut with the UTSA Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Off the court, he’s a businessman, promoting his own clothing line, the “Top Floor Boyz.”

But perhaps more to the point of his own identity, Medor is a family man. As the youngest of seven siblings, he expresses gratitude for the guidance of his parents and all of his real-life brothers and a sister, who always provided him with a safe haven.

“It was like, for me, being around them, they’ve been in the same situations I’ve been in,” said Medor, 23, from Wellington, Fla. “A lot of them played sports and a lot — well, all of them — own a business for themselves.

“So just being able to pick their brain and know what and what not to do, growing up, was good. It was good for me. When there’s a hurricane day, you get to have fun with your family (and) stay in.”

Medor has always looked up to hoops icons like Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry.

But, his career as a ball player all started with his sister, Vanessa, and his brothers, including Chris, Evens, Greg, Fred and Dean, all of them supplying him with the steady encouragement that he needed.

“My older brother (Greg) was definitely my mentor. (He) trains me, coaches me,” Medor said. “He always helps me out. My other brothers, they always pick my game apart. Like, if I’m playing, they’ll tell me what I’m doing wrong. (They’ll say) what I’m not doing right.”

By all accounts, the UTSA newcomer is getting it right on a pretty consistent basis in his first year of NCAA Division I. Chris, Evens, Greg and the others in the Medor clan should really have few worries about the baby of the family.

In fact, Medor is pushing during fall camp practices to become the Roadrunners’ starting point guard when the season opens in a few weeks.

UTSA coach Steve Henson has been happy with his progress since the summer. On Thursday, during a fast-paced practice that included about an hour of five-on-five, the 6-foot playmaker stood out as perhaps the best player on the floor at the Convocation Center.

“Today, I thought Japhet just had a different explosiveness about him,” Henson said. “I thought he had an extra gear today.”

It’s been a long, long journey through the basketball landscape for Medor, who was one of the nation’s top scorers and assist men in junior college last year at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.

All told, the 2018 graduate of Lake Worth High School spent one year in prep school and three in community colleges, toiling away to make a name for himself.

Now, with the season set to start Nov. 2 in an exhibition against Schreiner and then a Nov. 7 home opener against Trinity, Medor is on the verge of realizing his dream. He’ll be a Division I point guard. Is he feeling the adrenaline? You better believe it.

But in keeping with his personality, he steers the conversation away from his own feelings and talks instead about his teammates. About the team’s dreams.

“With the feeling we have (on) the team right now … the coaching staff and the players, it’s got us fueled up and excited for the season,” Medor said. “Just seeing what everyone is doing right now (in practice), it’s amazing what we can put together.”

Medor is expected to set the tempo for UTSA’s attack with his speed.

“He sees the game and feels it,” Roadrunners associate head coach Mike Peck said. “He really wants to try to set up his teammates (by) hitting the open guy. He sees things before they happen sometimes. He makes plays for other players. Puts shooters in position to … catch and shoot. Which is huge for us. He’s been great in that regard.

“We knew he was fast. But when you see it up close and in person when you’re on the floor with him, it’s at a different level.”

UTSA coaches have also talked during the fall about the maturity and leadership that transfer guards such as John Buggs III and Medor will bring to the program. Peck said Medor’s maturity likely stems from the player’s close-knit family, but also from traveling a hard road to Division I.

“He spent three years at the junior college level,” Peck said. “So, he’s seen some things and dealt with some things … He’s gone through the junior college route where they don’t get much. And you got to fight for everything.

“Coming here and having the resources, I think he has an appreciation for that, and that just adds to his maturity.”

UTSA assistant coach Scott Thompson made the initial contact with Medor last spring. Peck followed up with a visit and started to push to get him on the team as soon as possible. According to reports, he picked UTSA over Valparaiso, Stetson, Fordham and a few others.

Just as Medor made a careful decision on where to attend school this fall, he’s also wise to the world, Peck said.

“He’s definitely got that free-enterprise mindset,” the coach said. “He likes fashion and what’s trendy. He’s tuned into that, like a lot of kids. But even more so with him.”

Medor said he and a friend started the Top Floor Boyz business through a casual conversation a few years ago.

“Like, when we were around each other, we’d always say (it), Top Floor Boyz,” he said. “About 2018, we started an LLC for it, and we started pushing it. Wherever I go, I’ll wear Top Floor Boyz. I’ll push it. I’ll wear my own brand. Stuff like that.”

Medor is also expected to push the pace for the Roadrunners’ offense. Combined with Christian Tucker, the UTSA attack will have two problems for which opposing defenses will need to contend.

In Medor, the Roadrunners have a player who knew from an early age how he wanted to play the game. He was a teammate in high shool with Trent Frazier, a former star at the University of Illinois.

Watching Frazier helped Medor understand how much impact he could have on a game just by hitting the open man with a sweet pass.

“It’s an exciting feeling,”he said. “Just seeing your team happy and working with you. To get a stop on defense and go down to the other end … It just feels good with everyone playing together. You want everyone playing together and being happy together.”

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

UTSA works toward season-opening games in November

The UTSA men’s basketball team continued on Tuesday to ramp up preparation for the season, which starts in November.

After a day off on Wednesday, Coach Steve Henson’s Roadrunners will work out Thursday with referees for the first time this fall. They’ll practice again on Friday to get ready for a closed scrimmage set for Saturday in Belton against UT Arlington.

On Nov. 2, UTSA hosts an exhibition game against Schreiner College. The season opener is Nov. 7 at home against San Antonio-based Trinity University.

Last year, the Roadrunners struggled with a number of problems. Injuries. Covid-19. An academic casualty. Even team chemistry, to an extent.

On the floor, the inconsistency showed up in a few different areas. An inability to get multiple players involved in the offense. Poor shot selection and, ultimately, problems in producing enough points to win.

This fall, the team has been relatively healthy except for center Carlton Linguard Jr.’s knee issue. But newcomers John Buggs III (seen above) and Japhet Medor (below) have inspired optimism that the team could be on the verge of a bounce back season.