UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson photo gallery

UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson broke the Roadrunners' all-time season and career scoring records during his junior year. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson broke the Roadrunners’ all-time season and career scoring records during his junior year.

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson was named to the Conference USA men’s basketball player all-conference first team on Monday.

The junior from Puerto Rico led the conference in scoring and finished the regular season No. 2 in the NCAA with 27.2 points per game.

UTSA’s Jackson, Wallace honored on all conference squad

Conference USA released its all-conference teams Monday. Predictably, both Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace of UTSA were honored. Jackson made first team and Wallace was on the second team.

The Roadrunners open the C-USA tournament on Wednesday night in Frisco. UTSA, the 10th seed in a 12-team event, will tip off against the No. 7 UAB Blazers at 8:30 p.m. The Roadrunners and Blazers split a pair of games in San Antonio this season.

W. Kentucky wins in OT; UTSA’s Jackson breaks school records

Jhivvan Jackson. Western Kentucky beat UTSA 77-73 in overtime in Conference USA on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson set school records for career and single-season scoring during Western Kentucky’s 77-73 overtime victory at UTSA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson on Saturday established school records for career and single-season scoring, but he had a hard time celebrating any of it after the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers carved out a 77-73 victory in overtime.

An announced crowd of 1,576 at the Convocation Center watched as the 6-foot junior from Puerto Rico surpassed the records of UTSA legends Devin Brown (for career scoring) and Derrick Gervin (for single-season points).

Both Brown and Gervin went on to play in the NBA.

Jackson secured the single-season record late in regulation and established the career record during overtime.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough for the slumping Roadrunners, who lost to one of Conference USA’s powers, falling to 4-6 in their last 10 games.

By scoring 27 for the game, Jackson pushed his totals to 1,924 points for his career and 727 on the season.

“We still took the loss,” Jackson said. “To me, I mean, I don’t really play for records. I mean, it’s an honor. But we still took the ‘L.’ We just got to come in and get better on Monday and get better and get ready for pod play. Got to get better.”

Jhivvan’s day

Hounded by Taveion Hollingsworth and others for Western Kentucky, Jackson finished with 8 of 24 shooting.

He was off the mark on a long three and on a driving two in the final minute of regulation, either of which could have tipped the game into the Roadrunners’ favor.

In overtime, Jared Savage had five of his team-high 24 points as the Hilltoppers won the extra period, 13-9.

Jackson misfired on five of his six shots in OT, perhaps one reason why he was practicing his jumper in the gym long after most of his teammates were either still dressing or had left the building.

It’s the type of diligence that pushed him to become the No. 2 scorer in NCAA Division I this season and the leader in Conference USA each of the past two.

“I’m just going to remember how hard I worked,” Jackson said. “You know, I mean, that record is all about my work ethic. I take great pride in working out and getting better every day.

“That’s really what I just do. I mean, I just try to work hard every day and once I step on the floor in the game, I just translate it. It’s been working out for the past few years.

“I’m going to keep doing it, and hopefully we can get in the (C-USA)Tournament and make a run, because we all excited about it, and I know we will.”

Records

UTSA 12-15, 6-8
Western Kentucky 18-8, 11-3

First-half highlights

A story-line emerged in the opening half with the Roadrunners not shooting a free throw, while the Hilltoppers sank 11 of 15. Late in the half, the visitors kept pressing the action and exploded on a 14-4 run to take a 12-point lead. Keaton Wallace hit a three and Adrian Rodriguez a layup to bring the Roadrunners to within 41-34 at the break. Wallace kept UTSA in it with 16 points.

Second-half highlights

The Roadrunners played well enough to win the game for most of the second half but couldn’t make the key plays late. Early after intermission, the Hilltoppers were up by eight. But Jackson started to hit and UTSA rallied. The Roadrunners led by two three times down the stretch, the last time at 1:48 when Jackson drained a jumper. But in the final minute, Hollingsworth drove for a bucket to tie. Both teams misfired in the final 15 seconds.

Jacob Germany. Western Kentucky beat UTSA 77-73 in overtime in Conference USA on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Jacob Germany had his first double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. – photo by Joe Alexander

Overtime

UTSA played poorly on the offensive end and, in spite of it, had a chance to win in the final minute. Wallace’s three pulled the Roadrunners to within two points with 48 seconds left. On Western Kentucky’s next possession, UTSA center Jacob Germany went for a steal and fouled, sending Hollingsworth to hit two for a four-point lead with 30 seconds left. That was, essentially, the ball game.

Coming up

Conference USA teams will begin bonus, or “pod” play next week. Teams in first through fifth place positions will compete in one pod. Teams from No. 6 through 10 (including UTSA) are in a second group. In addition, teams 11-14 are in a third. All teams play four games.

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Avery Johnson covering Saturday's UTSA vs. Western Kentucky Game for CBS Sports Network. - photo by Joe Alexander

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Avery Johnson calling the game for CBS Sports Network. – photo by Joe Alexander

Teams in the first pod are playing for top-four seeding and a first-round bye in the C-USA tournament. Meaning, the top four teams after pod play will only need to win three games to win the tournament for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Teams in the second and third groups can’t get the bye, meaning that if the Roadrunners have any hope of playing in the NCAAs, they’ll have to do it the hard way.

They’ll need to step up their level of play in their last four games, create some momentum and then hope to win four games in four days at the tournament from March 11-14 at Frisco.

Jackson scores 45 as UTSA wins 85-81 in OT at Old Dominion

Record-setting Jhivvan Jackson scored nine of his season-high 45 points in overtime Thursday night, leading the UTSA Roadrunners to an 85-81 road victory at Old Dominion.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Illinois State 89-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson set Chartway Arena and Old Dominion opponent records with 45 points Thursday night. — File photo by Joe Alexander

With the performance, Jackson set both the Chartway Arena and Old Dominion opponent scoring records. His point total fell one shy of his career-high 46, established last year on the road at Western Kentucky.

Keaton Wallace scored 21 points and freshman Jacob Germany pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds for the Roadrunners, who snapped a two-game losing streak with their second straight win on the road in Conference USA play.

UTSA played its best half of the season on the road in the first half, building a 44-27 lead behind Jackson’s 28 points.

For the game, Jackson hit 17 of 33 shots from the field and 8 of 18 from three-point territory.

Included in his repertoire for the night were floaters, including one off of a dribble drive in which he split defenders and got into the lane, and another when he went baseline and hoisted a high-arcing shot over a defender.

Plus, he splashed more than a few 3-pointers that were good from 25 feet and beyond.

Malik Curry led the Monarchs with 30 points on 10 of 21 shooting. He scored 16 in the second half when Old Dominion roared from behind to force overtime. AJ Oliver also nailed three 3-pointers to aid the second-half surge.

UTSA led by as many as 20 points late in the first half.

Records

UTSA 11-13, 5-6
Old Dominion 9-15, 5-6

Notable

As Jackson lit it up early, another major development emerged as UTSA held Old Dominion to 31 percent shooting from the field in the first half.

Quotable

“It was a great win,” Jackson told Andy Everett on KTKR Radio. “In the first half, our defense was just phenomenal … We got, like, nine stops in a row. That’s why we played so great in the first half.”

By the numbers

Jackson scored in the 40s for the second time this season, following a 41-point performance on Dec. 21 at home against Illinois State. He has also produced eight games in the 30s and 11 in the 20s …

The 6-foot junior from Puerto Rico tied his career high with eight 3-point baskets. He was 8 of 18 for the game, including 6 of 10 in the first half. He followed in the overtime period by hitting 2 of 3 …

With the scoring outburst, Jackson increased his scoring average to 27.1. Marquette’s Markus Howard leads NCAA Division I with 27.9 per game, followed by Jackson.

Quotable

“He really did have it going,” UTSA head coach Steve Henson said. “To get 45, without getting the free throw line a lot, sometimes in those big scoring games, guys are shooting eight, 10, 12 free throws, he just kept after it. His floaters and mid-range were terrific. He hit some deep shots early. He just really had it going.”

More numbers

Germany was up to the task of a battle against Old Dominion forward Aaron Carver, the leading rebounder in the conference. Carver pulled down 20 boards but Germany grabbed 15, including six on the offensive end.

Out-rebounded badly in two home losses last week, the Roadrunners won the boards, 46-45…

Quotable

“He had a great game. He had 10 at the half,” Jackson said of Germany, who started for the second straight night. “Our coaches told the bigs it was all about the rebounding game. They did a heck of a job.”

Henson: Two UTSA standouts set for NBA Draft process

While most of the focus within the UTSA basketball program in the past few days has centered on tonight’s Conference USA game at first-place North Texas, coach Steve Henson on Wednesday also discussed an intriguing off-season plan for both Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

Steve Henson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson says NBA teams are likely keeping tabs on both Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Henson said his two high-scoring junior guards are scheduled to enter the upcoming NBA Draft evaluation process, which comes with an option to withdraw and return to play as seniors for the Roadrunners in 2020-21.

The coach said the plan was formulated after last season in talks with both players.

“Our message is just that, by having those conversations prior to the season, these two guys don’t have to worry about it,” Henson said. “Very specifically, one of the (pro) scouts told us that we need to win games.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Southern Miss 80-70 on Saturday for the Roadrunners' second straight Conference USA victory at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson is averaging 25.8 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“The scouts know who they are. They’re aware of them. How can they not know? The numbers are too big.”

Jackson and Wallace stand out as the highest-scoring duo in NCAA Division I, averaging a combined 43.2 points per game. Jackson is second in the nation in scoring at 25.8, with Wallace at 17.4. Both averaged better than 20 per game last year as sophomores.

Henson played seven years in the NBA in the 1990s, but he said the league has evolved dramatically in terms of how it tracks talent.

“Like what I was talking about on the radio last night,” Henson said, “the (pro) scouting staffs are huge now. The ability to get information – the film, the stats — is just at your fingertips. I’m sure every (NBA) team has got a file with those two guys’ names on it.”

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat Louisiana Tech 89-73 in Conference USA on Thursday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace is averaging 17.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The move toward tapping into the pre-draft evaluation process with Jackson and Wallace is in keeping with Henson’s management style.

He likes to take time to talk to his players about their long-range goals. A few years ago, the coach knew that former starting point guard Giovanni De Nicolao was way ahead on his academic plan.

Because of the circumstances, De Nicolao expressed an interest in finishing school in three years, which would allow him to cash in on his basketball skills back home if he could find a good situation. That’s what happened, as he signed a deal to play in Italy’s second division.

“He ended up getting the option that made sense for him,” Henson said. “So, yeah, we miss him. But, it’s a good thing for him. Jhivvan and Keaton, right now, they don’t have to think about that stuff (in the coming off-season). They know that’s the plan.”

Henson said he brought it up on his Tuesday night radio show to explain the issue so that “fans don’t panic,” because it’s a new concept for some of them. “If you put their name in the draft, it doesn’t mean they’re leaving,” he said.

The NCAA rules on early entry candidates have changed in recent years, according to a story published last April by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

From 2009-15, NCAA athletes who submitted their names before their senior year automatically gave up their option to return as college players, according to the report.

Since 2016, athletes have been allowed to enter the evaluation process and then withdraw before the actual draft is held, so that they can discover their market value while also maintaining their eligibility.

If Jackson or Wallace, or both, make it through the evaluation process and elect to stay in the draft, then it will be a good sign for the athletes, Henson said.

“It means that they’ve got some pretty good feedback (from the NBA),” he said. “(But) if they need to gain some weight, and work on pick and rolls, whatever it might be … then they can sit down with their families and make that decision. Right now, we need to lock in on winning games.”

Deja vu? Not quite, as UTSA rolls late to beat UTEP, 86-70

Atem Bior. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Atem Bior produced a career-high 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds as the Roadrunners improved their record in Conference USA to 3-3. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson was grinning slightly as he walked around the perimeter of a media scrum and moved into position for his post-game interview session Saturday afternoon.

Before taking a single question, he had one declaration to make.

Steve Henson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson said it felt good to make enough plays at the end to beat the UTEP Miners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Fire away,” Henson said. “A dollar for the first one that says, ‘Was that (game) just like Wednesday?’ Yes.”

True enough.

The teams were the same — the UTEP Miners against Henson’s Roadrunners. The flow of the game was also about the same, with the Miners executing a thrilling second-half rally for the second time in four days.

But, with all due respect, this one was different in an important way.

The Roadrunners won this one, even though they did fritter away most of a 23-point lead before steadying themselves at the end to nail down an 86-70 victory over the Miners.

With the decision, the Roadrunners improved to 8-1 at home and gained a measure of redemption after blowing a 24-point lead and then losing 80-77 to the Miners in overtime at El Paso.

After the game in West Texas, the Roadrunners returned to San Antonio in a funk, having squandered their second golden opportunity in two weeks to win on the road in Conference USA.

Coming home, they knew they had to make amends.

“Just glad our guys bounced back the way they did,” Henson said. “Had two good days of preparation. Weren’t real long practices, but we worked real hard on keeping our legs fresh and making a few adjustments.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman center Jacob Germany went 4 for 4 from the field, including a highlight-reel dunk. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Came out and re-established what we’d established in the first half (in El Paso).”

In the first half at El Paso, UTSA looked very good.

After that, everything unraveled, as the Miners roared from behind with separate runs of 17-0 and 8-0 en route to the biggest comeback in school history and the biggest in NCAA Division I this season.

Less than 72 hours later, both teams tipped off in San Antonio, and a season-high crowd of 1,684 fans watched curiously as deja vu started to set in.

With 61 percent shooting, the Roadrunners bolted to a 48-31 halftime lead, and then they emerged from the dressing room after intermission with equal intensity.

They continued to apply pressure on the Miners, hiking the advantage to 62-39 when Atem Bior scored on a bucket in the paint.

At that point, just as they did a few nights ago, the Roadrunners got careless with the ball, started turning it over at an alarming rate and allowed the Miners to rally.

Nevil Shed was at Saturday's UTSA vs. UTEP men's basketball game. Shed is a basketball legend in both San Antonio and El Paso.

Texas basketball legend Nevil Shed takes in Saturday’s game at the Bird Cage. He played for the 1966 NCAA champion Miners of Texas Western College (now UTEP) and later became an assistant coach and an administrator at UTSA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTEP capitalized on five turnovers, blitzing the home team with a stunning 19-2 run over the next five minutes.

All of a sudden, in a game that looked lost, the Miners had life — down by six with 7:25 remaining.

“To be honest, it felt worse tonight, than it did on Wednesday,” Henson said of the UTEP comeback. “On Wednesday, it wasn’t like we totally lost our composure.

“Tonight, it was. We were throwing that ball around, making weak plays. It was very, very similar.

“…What happened (in El Paso) was in our minds a little bit. So, yeah, the wheels came off. But, we regrouped and finished the game better.”

Aided by big plays from Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace, Luka Barisic and Makani Whiteside, the Roadrunners constructed a 17-6 run to put the game away.

A couple of Jackson free throws with 1:54 remaining capped the streak and widened the lead to 81-64.

Records

UTEP 11-8, 2-4
UTSA 9-10, 3-3

Coming up

Winless on the road in the C-USA at 0-3, UTSA plays next at North Texas (on Thursday) and at Rice (next Saturday.) Both with a tip off at 7 p.m.

By the numbers

UTEP — Bryson Williams produced 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting, 7 rebounds. He had 34 points Wednesday night. Souley Boum scored 18 points. Not counting Williams, the Miners hit only 16 of 53 shots from the field (30.1 percent). Guard Daryl Edwards, who hurt the Roadrunners in El Paso, scored only three on 1 of 10 shooting.

UTSA — It’s notable that the Roadrunners beat a good team on a day when they made only six three-point shots. Known for their long-distance artistry, they were 6 of 20 from three. They made up for it with strong play from big men Atem Bior (13 points, 7 rebounds), along with Jacob Germany and Luka Barisic (both with 9 points).

Jackson and Wallace

The highest-scoring tandem in Division I combined for 44 points. Jackson produced 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Wallace scored 21, and also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jackson was off the mark with his shooting touch (5 of 14), including a missed layup late in the game, but he sank 12 of 12 at the line. Wallace hit 8 of 18 from the field.

First-half recap

Wallace scored 16 points and Bior came up big with 11 points and five rebounds, leading the Roadrunners to a 48-31 advantage at the break. UTSA played strong defense, limiting the Miners to 35.3 percent shooting. UTSA also won the battle of the boards, 23-16. On the offensive end, the Roadrunners sizzled at 61.3 percent. UTSA hit eight of its last nine shots before intermission.

Second-half summary

After the Miners pulled to within six, Barisic stopped the run with a three-point play. Later, the Miners had it down to nine when Whiteside nailed a three from the arc to make it a 12-point game with 4:30 remaining. From there, UTSA never allowed UTEP to cut the lead under 10. Jackson made sure of it by hitting six of six at the free throw line in the last two minutes.

Roadrunners hope to even the score against the UTEP Miners

The UTSA Roadrunners will certainly know more about what to expect from forward Bryson Williams and the UTEP Miners Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Illinois State 89-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson produced 29 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday in an overtime loss at UTEP. – photo by Joe Alexander

But just because they’re more familiar with the Miners’ personnel and game plan, it doesn’t mean that the rematch will be any easier to win than their first meeting of the season.

Behind Williams, UTEP rallied at home on Wednesday night, battling back from a 24-point deficit to knock off UTSA 80-77 in overtime in the first of two Conference USA games this week between the in-state rivals.

The Roadrunners will try to even the score when the teams meet again Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“It’s going to be a grind it out game,” UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson said. “It’s not going to be easy. They’re one of the top defensive teams in the nation. They going to make us work. But we going to make them work, as well.

“We want to make them take hard shots, just like they want us to take hard shots. That’s kind of … the game plan, just come in with a defensive mindset, and have the offense take care of itself.”

Leading 54-30 with 14 minutes remaining Wednesday night, the Roadrunners failed to close out the game.

They were left stunned when the Miners outscored them 38-14 to the regulation buzzer.

Emboldened by the comeback, UTEP took a two-point lead into the final minute of overtime and then forced 3-point misses from Jackson and Keaton Wallace in the final seconds.

Miners guard Daryl Edwards knocked down a free throw with one second remaining for the final margin.

For the Roadrunners, it was the second time in the first three weeks of the C-USA schedule that they have allowed road games to slip through their fingers.

It happened first in Miami two weeks ago when Florida International stole an inbounds pass and hit a buzzer beater to tie the game in regulation, and then stormed to a 90-83 victory in overtime.

It happened again in El Paso when Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward in his first season with the Miners, finished with a season-high 34 points and 10 rebounds.

After scoring a modest 10 points in the first half, the Fresno State transfer started to get hot.

He made several tough shots out of the low post after intermission on the Roadrunners, who lost in spite of solid games from Jackson (29 points, 13 rebounds) and Keaton Wallace (26 points).

Despite the mounting adversity, Jackson said UTSA’s attitude has been good.

“Everybody on this team knows we should have pulled that one out,” Jackson said. “There’s no doubt about that. But, all we can do from that is just learn as a team.

“We got to learn how to close out games. I think that’s been one of our weaknesses just lately.”

Records

UTSA 8-10, 2-3
UTEP 11-7, 2-3

Notable

Newcomer Eric Parrish practiced with the Roadrunners in five on five drills Friday afternoon, but it remains uncertain when — or if — he will be allowed to play this season.

Coach Steve Henson said that UTSA communicated with the NCAA on the matter earlier this week. But the coach said he hasn’t heard about any ruling yet.

Parrish is an athletic, 6-foot-6 guard-forward who could give the team an immediate boost.

He has played one season at Akron in NCAA Division I and one in junior college. After that, he spent part of last semester at Division I Nevada.

But because Nevada changed coaches last summer and because Parrish didn’t play in any games for the Wolf Pack this season, UTSA is asking if he can play immediately for the Roadrunners.

Most players transferring from one D-I program to another are required by NCAA rule to sit out a year.

Trailing by 24 points, UTEP rallies past UTSA in overtime, 80-77

Junior forward Bryson Williams exploded for 34 points, and the UTEP Miners rallied from 24 points down to beat the UTSA Roadrunners 80-77 in overtime Wednesday night in Conference USA basketball.

UTSA built a 42-28 lead at halftime, extended it to 54-30 with 14:43 remaining in regulation and then couldn’t hold on at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso.

“There’s going to be so many things we’re going to look at, and second-guess every single decision we made there,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “We were up 24 … and started turning it over and couldn’t get stops.

“(Against Williams) we went zone and (we) liked that for a few possessions, and they kept pounding it into him regardless of what defense we were in. Yeah, it’s tough. Really tough.”

With the victory, UTEP snapped a five-game losing streak to UTSA in the series between C-USA rivals. It was the first victory for the Miners over the Roadrunners since Jan. 21, 2017.

The loss kept UTSA winless on the road in the C-USA (0-3) this year.

In two of the losses — at Florida International and at UTEP — the Roadrunners squandered perfectly good chances to win in regulation, only to collapse and then lose in the first overtime.

Scoring leaders

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson 29, Keaton Wallace 26.
UTEP — Bryson Williams 34, Daryl Edwards 18.

Records

UTEP 11-7, 2-3
UTSA 8-10, 2-3

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, 3 p.m. Saturday

First-half recap

The Roadrunners outscored the Miners 20-6 in the paint and forged a 22-17 lead on the boards en route to a commanding 42-28 advantage at intermission. Down by three points early, UTSA went on a 17-2 tear behind Jackson to take charge of the game. Later, UTEP rallied to within six. But Wallace exploded for the Roadrunners, who outscored the Miners 14-6 in the last six minutes

Second-half summary

Luka Barisic hit a bucket inside and knocked down two from three-point range as UTSA scored 12 of the first 14 points after intermission.

After that, the Miners slowly started to get back into it. With the Roadrunners committing a few unforced turnovers, Williams posted up on the other end and started hitting shots, even inside the zone. Williams scored 20 in the second half on 8 for 12 shooting from the field 4 for 4 at the line.

Both teams had a chance to win it in the final minute but couldn’t score. For UTSA, Wallace was called for a charge. On the other end for UTEP, Eric Vila misfired on a three and Nigel Hawkins couldn’t hit from close range.

Overtime

Jackson hit a jumper and connected on a pair of free throws as UTSA started fast and took a one-point lead. But Williams answered with a jumper to make it 75-74 with 2:21 remaining. The Miners scored on their next two possessions, and the Roadrunners never led again. With UTSA down by two, Jackson and Wallace both misfired on threes in the final seconds.

UTSA hits 15 three-pointers and downs Southern Miss, 80-70

Byron Frohnen. UTSA beat Southern Miss 80-70 on Saturday for the Roadrunners' second straight Conference USA victory at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Byron Frohnen enjoyed another strong performance with nine points and eight rebounds as UTSA improved its conference record to 2-2. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners followed up their best game of the season with a victory, but it wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy coach Steve Henson.

Henson knows his team can play better than it did in downing the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, 80-70, Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Southern Miss 80-70 on Saturday for the Roadrunners' second straight Conference USA victory at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored 23 points on 7 of 18 shooting after shaking off a pre-game knee issue. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA buried 15 three-point shots to make up for other issues in a grind-it-out, tougher-than-expected performance against a struggling program.

“Well, to be honest, we didn’t feel great about our practice yesterday or our shoot-around today,” Henson said. “Wasn’t terrible. Wasn’t terrible. But, you can’t have one good game and feel like you’ve arrived.

“I don’t think our guys had conscious bad thoughts. But it was noticeably a little different. Didn’t jump ’em in practice or in the shoot around the way we maybe should have.

“But, you could tell, we just weren’t quite focused.”

On Thursday night, the Roadrunners played well for most of the game in rolling to an 89-73 victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, a team that arrived in San Antonio with a NET national rating of No. 59.

Against the Golden Eagles, rated No. 309, the Roadrunners had to scramble to win by double digits after allowing the lead to be trimmed to three twice, the last time with 6:28 remaining.

Fortunately for the Roadrunners, rated No. 209, they switched to a zone defense to thwart the Eagles at the end.

They also hit all eight free throws down the stretch, including six of six by Jhivvan Jackson, to put the visitors away.

Jackson, the second-leading scorer in the nation, produced 23 points and six rebounds to pace the Roadrunners. Keaton Wallace added 16 points and four assists.

As a team, the Roadrunners nailed 15 of 27 from behind the arc to give them 33 of 59 on the homestand.

Six players hit from deep, including little-used freshman Makani Whiteside, who made two of them in the second half.

Records

UTSA 8-9, 2-2
Southern Miss 4-13, 0-4

Coming up

UTSA travels to play at UTEP on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The two teams will play again in San Antonio next Saturday at 3 p.m.

Jackson’s adversity

Even with two victories in the past three days, Jackson endured a difficult week, in some respects.

In Thursday’s victory, he scored 37 points against the Bulldogs but tweaked his surgically-repaired knee on a fall in the second half.

Jackson said he was feeling it before the game against Southern Miss.

“My knee swelled up a little,” he said. “Other than that, once I step on that floor, it doesn’t matter what’s wrong with me. I’m going to play.

“We got the best trainer (Josh Modica) in the country. He helped me get loose. That’s why I got out here (for warm-ups) a little late.”

If physical pain wasn’t enough of a worry, Jackson also was concerned about family in Puerto Rico, where a series of earthquakes have rocked the Caribbean Island.

The latest hit Saturday morning.

Jackson said his family is OK. “They didn’t have power for a couple of days, but they’re good now,” he said. “I mean, just taking it one day at a time.”

A freshman’s day

After a series of strong practices by Whiteside early this week, he was due for some additional playing time.

Though he did not get off the bench against Louisiana Tech, the 6-foot-4 guard from California logged eight productive minutes against Southern Miss.

He pleased the coach with his defense and with his shot-making, a 2-for-2 showing on three-pointers in the second half.

“Coming in I was expecting to play a little, so I just tried to stay ready,” he said.

Whiteside has moved up in the guard rotation in the wake of an injury to Adokiye Iyaye, who is out 6-8 weeks with a broken right thumb.

“First of all, I’d like to say, I’m praying for Doke,” he said. “But truth be told, there are minutes to be had.”

A painful birthday

UTSA had a scare early in the second half when starting point guard Erik Czumbel, celebrating his birthday, was hit in the face early in the second half.

He had to come out so that trainers could stop the bleeding. Diagnosed with a broken nose, Czumbel did return to the game wearing a protective mask and even hit a three-pointer out of the corner.

Henson said he should be able to continue to practice and play.

First-half recap

Playing patient basketball, the Roadrunners built a 35-31 first-half lead. But in many respects, it was an uninspired showing, with the Golden Eagles out-rebounding the Roadrunners 17-12. Of the 17 boards, the visitors pulled down five on the offensive end.

Wallace kept UTSA ahead on the scoreboard by nailing five shots, including four threes, to lead the Roadrunners with 14 points. Jackson had 12.

Second-half notes

The Roadrunners weren’t quite right in the second half, either, giving up 48 percent shooting from the field. They also were foul prone, allowing the Golden Eagles to hit 14 of 16 at the line. But on offense, UTSA had much better balance, with nine different players scoring and five players making threes. Whiteside and Czumbel made two each.

Jackson scores 37 as UTSA blasts Louisiana Tech, 89-73

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Louisiana Tech 89-73 in Conference USA on Thursday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Louisiana Tech’s Mo Muhammed (at right) tries to stay with UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

Facing the possibility of an 0-3 start in Conference USA, the UTSA Roadrunners showed equal parts fortitude and flair Thursday night, burying one of the C-USA’s better teams with a prolific, first-half shooting display.

Later, they hung on for a record-setting, 89-73 victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in front of an announced 922 at the Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson had 37 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds to lead UTSA to an 89-73 conference victory over Louisiana Tech on Thursday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson had 37 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds to lead the Roadrunners. – photo by Joe Alexander

The difference, easily, was three-point shooting. UTSA made a school-record 18 and gave up only six. In a dizzying display, Roadrunners junior Jhivvan Jackson knocked down a career-high, tying eight by himself.

“It was a great win,” said Jackson, who scored 37 points. “Other than (making) the shots, we got the stops we needed in the first half. I mean, that was our main focus coming into the game. We got to get stops. The offense going to take care of itself.”

LA Tech showed up at the Convocation Center with the conference’s best rating (No. 59 nationally) in the NET standings.

UTSA, on the flip side, came in far down the list at No. 249 in the NCAA’s rating system of 353 Division I programs.

On a more personal level, UTSA players felt stung by starting conference play with two losses in Florida last week, including a game they virtually threw away at Florida International on Saturday night.

But in a nod to the craziness of college basketball, the Roadrunners built a commanding 26-point intermission lead on the Bulldogs, juiced it to 29 in the second half and then made enough plays down the stretch to keep the Bulldogs at arms length.

“We knew it would take a great effort (to win),” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “You know, we made shots. So, that might have skewed things a lot. But, shoot, we’ll take it.”

Records

UTSA 7-9, 1-2
Louisiana Tech 11-4, 2-1

By the numbers

UTSA — Jackson hit 11 of 23 from the floor, including 8 of 15 from three, and 7 of 8 free throws. He also had six assists and five rebounds. Forward Luka Barisic followed a 14-point outing at FIU with 16 against Louisiana Tech. The 6-foot-9 Croatian nailed 4 of 5 from three. Keaton Wallace played well defensively and also contributed 13 points and six rebounds. Byron Frohnen was major a factor with nine points and 10 rebounds.

LA Tech — UTSA held one of the conference’s better three-point shooting teams to 6 of 17. Long-distance sharp-shooters DaQuan Bracey and Amorie Archibald were a combined 0 for 3. Bracey and Kalob Ledoux scored 12 points apiece. LA Tech also failed to disrupt the UTSA offense as much as it would have liked. UTSA had trouble at times with 14 turnovers, but the errors weren’t consequential in the end. Coming in, the LA Tech defense had forced an average of 17.1 opponent turnovers per game.

First-half recap

The Roadrunners shot 55 percent from the field and tied a season-high for points in a half, racing to a 53-27 lead on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at intermission.

Initially, Jackson couldn’t get an open look with LA Tech swarming him with double teams.

At the same time, the strategy opened up the floor, and the Roadrunners’ complementary players started hitting from everywhere.

Once the Bulldogs stopped doubling on UTSA’s leading scorer, Jackson went off in a flourish, finishing the half with 18 points.

Freshman watch

Center Jacob Germany, a 6-11 freshman from Oklahoma, continued to raise eyebrows with his play in the first half. On one occasion, he raced ahead of the defense and caught a long pass for a layup. On another, he snared a lob in front of the rim and — facing away from the bucket — threw it down two-handed as a no-look dunk.

Special treat

San Antonio resident and former UTSA star Derrick Gervin attended the game. Wearing a cap with the school logo, he sat high in a section of bleachers behind the Roadrunners’ bench. Afterward, the 1980s-era power forward for the Roadrunners visited with reporters at press row.