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.

UTSA makes a key defensive play late, defeats Rice, 90-88

The UTSA Roadrunners spent most of Saturday night trying unsuccessfully to keep the Rice Owls from scoring.

Led by guard Ako Adams, Rice was hitting from everywhere, building an 11-point advantage with 12:35 remaining.

But down the stretch, the Roadrunners kept playing.

And then they got the stop that they needed, forcing a turnover on an inbounds play and racing the other way for the winning basket and a 90-88 victory over the slumping Owls in Houston.

After Rice inbounded, UTSA’s Byron Frohnen came up with a loose ball and passed ahead to freshman Erik Czumbel, who out-ran the defense and drove for a layup with one second remaining.

In response, the Owls threw up a desperation shot from three quarters of the court but the clock had expired, giving a much-needed Conference USA road victory to the Roadrunners.

Records

UTSA 10-11, 4-4
Rice 9-13, 1-8

Crazy ending

UTSA had a chance to break a tie score with less than a minute remaining when Jhivvan Jackson misfired on a long three. With the game deadlocked at 88-88, Rice called time with 32 seconds left.

The play went to Ako Adams, who was unstoppable for most of the game. But as Adams drove to the bucket Keaton Wallace blocked the shot, sending it out of bounds. Rice had possession under its own goal.

At that point, Drew Peterson inbounded. Frohnen came up with it for the Roadrunners and sent it out in a winning transition play that Czumbel, a freshman, finished with a left-handed drive.

Road success — at last

With the victory, UTSA improved to a modest 2-10 in games played away from home this season, including 2-6 on the road and 1-4 in Conference USA.

By the numbers

UTSA — Jackson, the nation’s second-leading scorer, tallied 14 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Keaton Wallace kept UTSA in the game in the first half with 14 of his 24 points, and he added four rebounds and three assists.

Czumbel scored 11 on four of four shooting, including three of three from 3-point distance. He scored eight points after halftime.

Rice — In a devastating shooting display, the Owls hit 11 of their 18 three-pointers in the second half. Adams hit six of them. Payton Moore and Quincy Olivari three apiece. All told, the Owls were 18 of 35 from distance. Adams led the Owls with 21 points, while Josh Parrish had 17.

Streaks

UTSA had lost its last five games away from home — a neutral-site loss to Oregon State in Houston and four C-USA road games at Florida Atlantic, Florida International, UTEP and North Texas.

The Roadrunners’ last victory outside of San Antonio came on Dec. 7 in non-conference play at Texas State.

Rice has lost five games in a row overall and nine of its last 10.

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.

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.

UTSA ‘very confident’ entering conference opener at FAU

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

Senior forward Byron Frohnen has started 113 games in a row for the UTSA Roadrunners. – photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners remain a work in progress — far from a finished product, but confident in their abilities — leading into a Conference USA opener Thursday night at Florida Atlantic.

Veterans on the squad believe they can win the conference. But for that to happen, they know they will need to play at a much higher level than they’ve achieved to this point.

“It’s good to see that we’re finally putting stuff together,” UTSA senior Byron Frohnen said. “We had a tough start to the year. But we’re feeling very confident right now.

“Going into conference, we’re not right at the top, but we’re at full strength and we’re ready to go.”

One reason for the optimism centers around improved play from Frohnen, who has started 113 consecutive games since first suiting up UTSA as a freshman in 2016-17.

As UTSA started the season 0-5, much of the talk centered on how the Roadrunners needed to get more out of junior guard Keaton Wallace.

But Frohnen also wasn’t playing up to standards.

“Part of that was continuing to deal with issues with his body, and not feeling 100 percent physically,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Then Byron hit a little stretch where the ball just didn’t go in the hole for him.

“There were shots around the rim that he typically shoots 55 or 60 percent (and) he was shooting 35 or 40 percent. Just a combination of not feeling good physically and dealing with a confidence issue around the rim.”

In the past two games, Frohnen has stepped up his production, pulling down 18 rebounds and shooting 7 for 12 from the field.

He’s also moving the ball well, passing for 12 assists in his last four.

With the team led by Jhivvan Jackson and Wallace in scoring, Frohnen is asked to play defense and to rebound primarily.

But when his offense is working, hustling to get easy looks around the rim and crashing the offensive glass, the Roadrunners are a much better team.

“Now his body is feeling good,” Henson said. “He’s feeling fresh. His body weight is down, which is a good key for him. He’s got good energy.”

Henson said part of Frohnen’s resurgence stems from temporary relief from a rigorous academic regimen.

In the fall, the mechanical engineering major from Las Vegas was taking a 14-hour load, often staying up well past midnight to finish assignments and projects.

Frohnen acknowledged the academic stress from his recently-completed fall semester.

“I had a crazy load in my senior year of school,” said Frohnen, who carries a 3.2 grade point average. “Classes were really tough. I had engineering projects and stuff like that going on.

“Finals week was a rough week. I was up to like 3 a.m. every night. That was a tough week. I’m glad that’s over with.”

In 2016, the 6-foot-6 Frohnen was part of Henson’s first recruiting class.

He’s been a solid contributor to an improving program ever since, averaging 7.0 points and 6.9 rebounds for his career, while defending everyone from 6-10 centers to point guards.

Now he’s a senior, trying to make the most of his last season.

“I remember being a freshman like yesterday,” he said. “Seeing these younger guys come in (this year), I was in their shoes. It just flies by. You can’t take a day for granted. I wish I could go back and play harder on certain days.

“It’s good to be here. (I’m) embracing every moment.”

UTSA (6-7) has won only three games this season against NCAA Division I competition and has a NET rating that’s No. 249 out of 353 teams in the nation and No. 12 in its 14-team conference.

But Frohnen didn’t hesitate to say he thinks the Roadrunners can win the C-USA title.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “We have every piece we need to win, for sure.”

Thursday’s game

UTSA (6-7) at FAU (8-5), 6 p.m. Live video on ESPN Plus. Radio on Ticket 760 AM.

Notable

UTSA guard Adokiye Iyaye has a broken thumb on his right hand, Henson said. The coach said Iyaye, a defender and an energizer who plays off the bench, won’t play this weekend as the Roadrunners prepare to face FAU Thursday and then Florida International on Saturday in Miami.

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

Jhivvan Jackson ranks second in the nation in scoring at 26.2 points per game. – photo by Joe Alexander

The Roadrunners are 6-2 since their 0-5 start. Jackson averages 26.2 points, second in NCAA Division I behind Markus Howard of Marquette at 26.3. Wallace is averaging 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

Three of the Owls’ eight victories have come against sub-Division I competition. FAU, listed at No. 227 in the NET ratings nationally and No. 11 in the C-USA, lost 60-58 in its last outing Sunday at South Florida. Newcomer Cornelius Taylor leads FAU in scoring with 11.2 points.

Last year, the Owls lost on the road at UTSA, 86-74. They finished 17-16 overall and 8-10 in the C-USA in Dusty May’s first season as head coach. The Owls dropped a 57-56 decision to Louisiana Tech in the first round of the C-USA tournament.

After a shaky start, UTSA romps past Our Lady of the Lake, 99-64

UTSA beat Our Lady of the Lake 99-64 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. Keaton Wallace led UTSA with 30 points. - photo by Joe Alexander

Playing with a head cold, Keaton Wallace scored a team-high 30 points Saturday against Our Lady of the Lake . – photo by Joe Alexander

Shrugging off a slow start, the UTSA Roadrunners roared to their highest point total of the season in a 99-64 victory Saturday afternoon over the NAIA Our Lady of the Lake Saints.

Keaton Wallace, battling a cold and a sore throat, nearly didn’t play but emerged as the focal point in the UTSA attack with 30 points.

Jhivvan Jackson, the leading scorer in NCAA Division I, added 20 as the Roadrunners improved to 6-2 in their last eight games leading into conference play.

After the first 10 minutes, the game tilted into UTSA’s favor, with the home team building a 52-43 lead at half.

The visiting Saints, under pressure from bigger and more physical athletes, never came within single digits after intermission.

UTSA outscored OLLU 47-21 after intermission.

OLLU was limited to 29 percent shooting for the game, including 18.4 percent in the second half, in front of an announced 1,087 at the Convocation Center.

Records

UTSA 6-7
Our Lady of the Lake 4-10

Coming up

UTSA opens Conference USA competition on Thursday at Florida Atlantic University, followed by a Saturday game at Florida International.

Starting the second season

Roadrunners coach Steve Henson wasn’t thrilled with the slow start and sporadic execution on offense against an out-manned opponent in OLLU.

But he said he feels good about the team leading into the road trip to Florida.

Steve Henson. UTSA beat Our Lady of the Lake 99-64 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson states his case with a referee Saturday during a lopsided victory over Our Lady of the Lake University. – photo by Joe Alexander

In the team’s last game before Christmas, it played well in routing Illinois State, 89-70.

“The more I watched (on film), our defense in that game was really, really good,” Henson said. “So, I feel good about it. The rebounding continues to improve. You see the progress on film.

“We’re contesting shots (with) legitimate hands in the face. We’re right up on guys. That’s been a noticeable improvement.”

First half summary

Trailing for most of the first half, the Roadrunners woke up in time to outscore the Saints by nine at intermission.

Henson called time out 90 seconds into the game to emphasize the need to guard against the three-point shot.

OLLU kept firing away, anyway.

Jared Embry nailed a three-pointer, one of seven for the visitors before intermission, boosting the Saints into a 17-12 advantage with 15:35 remaining.

But the Roadrunners responded by outscoring the San Antonio-based Saints 40-26 the rest of the way, with Wallace (16 first-half points) and Jackson (13) taking the lead.

Wallace, who was sleeping in the training room during a morning shoot-around, hit 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point territory.

He nailed a three from the top of the arc at the halftime buzzer.

For the game, the junior from Dallas finished 11 of 16 from the field, hitting a variety of drives and mid-range floaters. He also nailed and 5 of 9 from three.

On playing with a cold, Wallace said, “I feel like when I’m on the court, I just stop thinking about it. It’s just a different type of mindset, I guess.”

By the numbers

UTSA started the season 0-5, with all of the losses coming away from home. Within its recent 6-2 streak, the Roadrunners have been 5-1 at home. Three of those victories (against Wiley, UT Permian Basin and OLLU) have come against sub-NCAA Division I programs. They are 0-2 against D-I power conference opponents (Oklahoma and Oregon State) and 0-1 against Utah State, ranked 15th in the nation at the time.

New player in town

Well-traveled forward Eric Parrish has joined the UTSA basketball program and was on the bench for the OLLU game.

UTSA announced Parrish’s signing on Dec. 10. He is a 6-foot-6 wing who was rated as the No. 4 junior college player in the nation last season.

UTSA men's basketball player Eric Parrish. - photo by Joe Alexander

Newcomer Eric Parrish, one of the top junior college players in the nation last season, was on the bench with the Roadrunners Saturday. – photo by Joe Alexander

It’s possible Parrish could play for the Roadrunners this season, but Henson said it won’t be right away.

“He’s got two things going,” Henson said. “He’s not eligible right now, and he’s got an injury. About a week ago, about the same day he got admitted to school, he was training and he broke his finger.”

Initially, coaches thought the injury might require a long-term recovery. Henson said that after review, Parrish is “several days away from practicing.”

It’s uncertain when the NCAA will rule on the eligibility appeal. But the coach said it won’t be by Thursday’s conference opener.

Parrish began his collegiate career at Akron in 2017-18, where he averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. He started 21 of Akron’s 32 games as a freshman.

Following the season at Akron, Parrish transferred to Bossier Parish Community College (La.) for 2018-19, and he responded by averaging 18.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.0 blocks.

Parrish joined the program at Nevada last summer. But Nevada announced in late October that he had left school. He didn’t play for the Wolf Pack, according to a report at nevadasportsnet.com.

UTSA hopes to re-write history against Oregon State

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat UT-Permian Basin 98-55 on Sunday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace is averaging 22 points on 57.5 percent shooting in his last three games. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Ten years and one month have passed since the UTSA Roadrunners last won a men’s basketball game against a team from one of the NCAA’s power conferences.

It was Nov. 15, 2009 when the Roadrunners downed the Iowa Hawkeyes, 62-50, in a season opener at Iowa City.

Since then, UTSA has lost 20 straight against teams from the traditional football/basketball powers — namely, the Southeastern Conference, the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Pac-12.

Counting those five conferences, plus the basketball-dominant Big East, the streak is 21 games.

The Roadrunners will try to break those streaks this afternoon in Houston at the Toyota Center against the Pac-12’s Oregon State Beavers.

“That would be big time to beat a team like Oregon State,” UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said. “They’re a good team. I don’t think we’re going to go in and change anything or go in timid.

“We’re going to still play Roadrunner basketball.  We’re going to be confident going into the game, and, you know, we’re going to play hard.”

Led by forward Tres Tinkle, the unranked Beavers (8-1) have won six straight games. The Roadrunners (4-6) are playing well, having won four of five since an 0-5 start.

Included in the losses, UTSA fell 85-67 in the season opener at Oklahoma, a power opponent from the Big 12.

UTSA fell to 0-5 on Nov. 18 when it lost by 32 on the road at No. 15 Utah State.

Since then, the Roadrunners changed up the backcourt, bringing in Erik Czumbel to start at the point.  They also changed some things on how to free shooters on the perimeter.

The result has been better play from Wallace and an offense that has scored 264 points over its last three games.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said high expectations were not met earlier in the season, but he added that players are getting more comfortable with the system.

“We’re a pretty talented group,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “We did not get off to the start we envisioned … We’re still not where we hope to be.  Lately, we’re playing a lot better.

“We’re starting to figure some things out.  Even though we have a fairly veteran group, we also have some key new players. I think we’re starting to figure out how to use those guys.  They’re getting more comfortable.

“The last two games, we’re playing with confidence. We’re playing better, shooting the ball better … Hopefully, we’re making some progress.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jhivvan Jackson takes over NCAA Division I scoring lead

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat A&M-Corpus Christi 89-67 on Tuesday night at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson hits a floater in the lane against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson has taken over the national lead in scoring, according to NCAA Division I basketball statistics released Monday afternoon.

Jackson, a 6-foot junior, moved up from third to first on the national charts after scoring 28 points Sunday at the Convocation Center in a 98-55 victory over UT Permian Basin.

A tight race for the NCAA scoring lead has developed early in the season, with Jackson (25.2 points per game) leading Marquette’s Markus Howard (25.1) and Northeastern’s Jordan Roland (25.0).

UTSA coach Steve Henson on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 2019 at the UTSA Convocation Center. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson. – photo by Joe Alexander

Jackson has surged lately, averaging 26.8 points during a streak of four wins in five games by the Roadrunners.

Armed with a dynamic array of skills, the native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, does a little bit of everything with the ball, shooting the 3-pointer, pulling up for medium-range floaters and driving to the basket with either hand.

Jackson averaged 18.4 points as a freshman two years ago. Last season, he led Conference USA in scoring at 22.9. This year, he’s scored 30 or more four times, including 33 on Dec. 7 at Texas State.

Moreover, the former standout at Euless Trinity High School is rebounding at a higher level, averaging 5.7 per game.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said after the UTPB game that Jackson’s improved work habits are starting to pay off.

“He’s obviously such an elite, talented scorer,” Henson said. “He was a guy, by the time he got here, he could go get 30 when the lights came on.

“But his habits are getting better. He’s becoming a better practice player. He’s starting to help his teammates more, which is absolutely huge.

“(We) called a play for him today, and he said, ‘Let’s run it for Knox (Hellums).’ Those are good signs for us.”

Basically, Jackson is maturing into a leader.

“He’s such a quick guy, he can chase down long rebounds,” Henson said. “He’s had a few big rebound games for us this year.”

In the past two seasons, Jackson and junior Keaton Wallace have emerged to lead a basketball renaissance at UTSA, pacing the team to a combined 37 victories.

With the two high-scoring guards returning, the Roadrunners were a trendy pick in the preseason to contend for a Conference USA title.

But after a 32-point loss at Utah State dropped the Roadrunners to 0-5, Jackson did some soul searching.

He told The JB Replay upon returning home from Utah that the Roadrunners would get better with an increased focus on defensive effort.

“It’s what we’re really emphasizing, just, getting a lot of stops,” Jackson said. “We have a chance to be a really good defensive team. But you know, we got to do it for 40 minutes. Not just in stretches. That’s the one thing we’ve been working on, is, getting stops.

“We know the offense is going to come. We’re not worried about offense. You know, anybody on our team can score. Once we get our defense together, really locking down people, we’re going to be good.”

Coming up

UTSA (4-6) vs. Oregon State (8-1), Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., at the Toyota Center in Houston.