By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Sidetracked by a health scare and an unexpected trip to a Houston hospital Wednesday night, Japhet Medor returned to his hotel room and did what you’d expect from any college student.
He slept it off.
An allergic reaction to an apparent peanut butter-like substance in a chocolate cookie would not get the best of him. It would not deter the UTSA point guard from the business at hand.
Medor stated his case emphatically on Thursday night, playing a team-high 36 minutes and making a few clutch plays late in an 84-79 victory for the UTSA Roadrunners over the Rice Owls.
Powered by John Buggs III, Josh Farmer, Jacob Germany and Medor, the Roadrunners snapped a school-record 11-game losing streak and returned home to San Antonio with visions of another upset victory.
They’ll get that opportunity today when they host the UAB Blazers at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
Medor, who has overcome a couple of ankle/foot injuries this season in addition to his bout with the cookie, reflected on it all as the Roadrunners prepared to face one of the best teams in Conference USA.
“It’s been a tough journey,” the Florida native said. “It hasn’t been the season that we all anticipated. It’s been an up and down road for us as a team. Just, being healthy as a team, has been tough. With my foot, when I was out, it just didn’t feel right.”
Medor sprained the foot in practice on Jan. 18, the day before UTSA hosted the nationally-ranked Florida Atlantic University Owls.
It was a crushing blow to the Roadrunners, to lose the engine of their offense at that time.
In the three games that Medor eventually sat out, UTSA fell to FAU and Florida International at home and North Texas on the road.
The Roadrunners weren’t close against the Owls, losing by 19. Against FIU and North Texas, they lost by five and four points, respectively.
Once during the stretch, Medor walked over to press row with the boot on his foot and talked briefly to a reporter, explaining that he could run in straight lines in practice but still had trouble moving from side to side.
Even when he returned to play in his first game on Jan. 28 against Louisiana Tech, he still wasn’t right, physically, and the Roadrunners lost again. Losses to Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee and UTEP followed.
Against UTEP, though, Medor was feeling good again physically. He scored 20 points, which included 10 for 10 shooting at the free throw line, and he made four steals. His confidence was growing.
Then came the road trip to play at Rice. On the bus ride from San Antonio to Houston, he ate a meal, and he felt fine.
But when the team arrived at its hotel destination, he pulled out the cookie and smelled it, knowing that it wasn’t wise for him to ingest anything with peanut butter.
It smelled OK, so he ate it.
“I didn’t know (about the peanut butter),” he said. “(By) the third bite, I felt something was wrong. My lips started tingling. Like I was getting an allergic reaction, and I started throwing up.
“By the time I got upstairs, my face was swelling up. My nose (was congested, and) I couldn’t breathe … Within an hour of the time we got there, I was in the hospital.”
At the hospital, he felt more discomfort. Itchy eyes, the works. Pretty soon, it was under control, Medor said, as he took fluids and “everything got flushed out.”
“Day of the game, I felt perfectly fine,” Medor said.
Against Rice, Buggs led the team with a spirited performance.
Medor’s backcourt running mate scored 23 points. He hit five 3-point shots. Farmer and Germany were solid in their play off the bench, too. Farmer poured in 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Germany contributed 16 and eight.
Medor, just 24 hours removed from his allergic reaction, produced 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. At the end, he made a critical play. With UTSA clinging to a three-point lead, Rice inbounded the ball and Medor got the steal.
On the other end, he knocked down both free throws with 12 seconds left, boosting the lead to five points. With a second remaining, Medor was at the line again, knocking down two for two.
“It felt good,” Medor said. “There was a lot of good that we’d done as a team (this season). We’d just have these two-minute (stretches) where we’d fall off. So, getting that win was big. It just uplifted everybody in the program.”
Now comes the hard part, trying to win back to back against the Jordan “Jelly” Walker-led Blazers, who average 82 points per game.
“We’re ready for tomorrow’s game,” Medor said. “Coming off the win at Rice, it’s a good feeling. We feel like the coaches got us prepared the right way. We just need to put the ball through the basket and get stops.”
UAB Blazers at UTSA Roadrunners, Conference USA men’s basketball, today, 3 p.m.
UAB 19-8, 10-6
UTSA 8-19, 2-14