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.

After a slow start, UTSA lights up UT Permian Basin, 98-55

Aside

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace played in Sunday's game with a mask after being hit in the face earlier in the week. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace played in Sunday’s game with a mask after being hit in the face in practice on Saturday. – photo by Joe Alexander

On a sleepy Sunday afternoon at UTSA, junior guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace put on another show for the home fans, just as they’ve done for the past two-plus seasons.

This time, the show came with a few twists.

Jackson, a diminutive 6-foot guard, turned into something of a rebounding machine with a career-high 14. Wallace emerged as a masked marauder of sorts.

He wore a plastic mask as protection after taking a shot to the nose in practice on Saturday.

Not to worry.

Wallace broke out of a 3-point shooting slump with a season high five long balls.

As a result, the Roadrunners extended their winning streak to three games with an easy 98-55 victory over NCAA Division II UT Permian Basin.

Records

UTSA 4-6
UT Permian Basin 10-3

Setting the scene

Early in the day, the energy in the Convocation Center was minimal, with an announced crowd of 708 in the building.

On top of that, both teams seemed not completely prepared for a 3 p.m. tip off.

The Falcons, who came in riding a 10-game winning streak, missed their first seven shots. Fortunately for the visitors, the Roadrunners missed their first six.

Heating up

Stepping up the intensity, the Roadrunners called on freshman Jacob Germany to spark the team midway through the first half.

Germany had two points, a rebound and three blocked shots in a five-minute sequence.

In the meantime, Wallace and Jackson started to roll.

Wallace hit four 3-pointers before halftime for 15 of his 18 points. Jackson scored 13 in the first half, en route to a monster show of 28 points and 14 rebounds.

On the horizon

UTSA will play in Houston on Wednesday against the Oregon State Beavers. The game is set for 4:30 p.m. at the Toyota Center, home of the NBA Houston Rockets. The team returns to the Convocation Center on Saturday to meet Illinois State.

Notable

UT Permian Basin was playing its second game in two days. The Falcons won at home against Cameron in Odessa on Saturday afternoon, and then made the trek to San Antonio for the non-conference road game.

UTSA took full advantage of the situation, cranking up its offense for season highs in points in a game and in a half (58, in the second half).

The Roadrunners also knocked down a season-high 14 three-pointers, including a 3-for-3 effort from sophomore guard Adokiye Iyaye, who scored a personal season high of 11 points.

As a team, the Roadrunners nailed 14 of 29 from beyond the 3-point line to continue a three-game hot streak.

In victories over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas State and UTPB, they have made 31 of 67 from distance (46.2 percent).

By comparison, the Roadrunners connected on only 27.7 percent from long range (41 of 148) during a season-opening, five-game losing streak.

Quotable

UTSA coach Steve Henson, on Wallace’s performance in the mask:

“Didn’t seem to bother him too much. He made three or four threes in the first half. Told him we may just turn him into Rip Hamilton and let him wear it for awhile.”

(Hamilton, who wore a protective mask during much of his 14-year NBA career, was regarded as one of the game’s deadliest long-range shooters. He made 530 three-pointers in 921 NBA games. He retired after the 2012-13 season.)

Henson, on the team winning four of five games after opening the season with five losses:

“We’re not trying to get too carried away. Our opponents early on were really, really good. Our next two opponents are really, really good. We’re just trying to make progress. We had some surprises early. Things were not as easy as we thought they might be.

“Had some struggles in some areas. Just trying to address those. Trying to find something to help establish an identity. To give us a chance to be a really good team. I think we made some progress this week. But it’s still a work in progress.”

Wallace scores 31 as UTSA routs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 89-67

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

Hard-driving Keaton Wallace takes it into the paint against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. – photo by Joe Alexander

Junior guard Keaton Wallace connected on a school-record 15 free throws without a miss Tuesday night en route to a season-high 31 points in UTSA’s 89-67 victory over the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.

Bouncing back from a Saturday night loss to Prairie View A&M, the Roadrunners placed four men in double figures for the team’s first victory of the season against an NCAA Division I opponent.

UTSA shot a season-high 54.5 percent from the field, improved to 2-6 on the season and won for the second time in three games on a season-opening home stand.

The Islanders fell to 3-5 after rolling into San Antonio on a three-game winning streak. Nolan Bertain led Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with 18 points. He hit four 3-point shots.

Notable

Wallace’s 15-for-15 effort at the free-throw line highlighted a 23-of-26 team effort. Wallace broke the 26-year-old UTSA record held by guard Afis Olajuwon, who made 14 of 14 at home against Sam Houston State on Jan. 9, 1993.

Quotable

“That’s actually crazy. I didn’t even know I shot that many free throws. But that’s great. I feel great about that. You know, big time.” — Keaton Wallace, on what it means to get the school record.

Coming up

UTSA plays at Texas State on Saturday. Tip-off is at 4 p.m. in San Marcos at Strahan Arena.

Wallace’s resurgence

Keaton Wallace entered the game averaging a modest 12.9 points a game on 29.5 percent shooting from the field and 22.8 percent on 3-pointers.

He was 4 of 14 afield and 0 of 8 at the 3-point arc in a 79-72 loss to Prairie View.

The performance capped a mystifying seven-game stretch for Wallace, who emerged as one of the top players in Conference USA last year.

Henson said it was “really good” to see Wallace hit 8 of 12 from the field against the Islanders.

“We’ve been talking about our struggles, really, across the board,” Henson said. “Defensively, we haven’t been good enough. Offensively, the ball has not been going in the hole. Kind of felt like Keaton is a big key to all of this. We know that we need him to get going. We knew he was ready just at any moment to pop it, and so it was really good to see that happen.”

Hellums, Germany shine

Knox Hellums and Jacob Germany each scored 12 points off the bench for the Roadrunners. Hellums, a 6-5 junior transfer from Pepperdine, hit 4 of 4 from the 3-point arc. Germany was 5 of 7 including a couple of slam dunks. Jhivvan Jackson, one of the leading scorers in the nation, had 12 points in only 17 minutes.

First-half recap

Eleven players played and nine scored in the first half Tuesday night as the UTSA Roadrunners took a 41-25 lead against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Slumping junior Keaton Wallace led the way with 16 points. He hit 3 of 3 from the field and 10 of 10 at the free throw line.

UTSA adjusts to expanded three-point arc in Division I basketball

Keaton Wallace.UTSA beat Wiley College 90-68 on Friday in the Roadrunners' first home game of the 2019-20 men's basketball season. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace produced six points, five assists and four steals in the second half of a 90-68 victory last Friday against Wiley College. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Last season, if you hit a jump shot from 20 feet, 9 inches in an NCAA Division I college basketball game, court side wags would dutifully write down a “three” next to your name on the score sheet.

Your effort would be cheered by the fans and hailed by the public address announcer, who’d croon your name along with two additional words, “for threeeeeee!”

This season, a jumper from 20-9 just isn’t the same. It counts the same as a layup. It’s only a two.

To earn three points for your team this season, you must hit the jumper from an arc measured at 22-1 and 3/4 inches.

Division I programs have been practicing with the new distance since the middle of the summer, but it’s still an adjustment for everyone, including the UTSA Roadrunners, as the calendar turns to the last day of November.

The 1-5 Roadrunners are shooting just 29.1 percent from beyond the arc, which represents quite a drop from last year (34.4) and from two years ago (36.1).

But even with the decline in efficiency, UTSA isn’t changing anything in regard to its overall offensive philosophy.

Last Friday, the Roadrunners hoisted 31 threes and knocked down 11 of them in their home opener against Wiley College.

Over the last eight minutes of the game, they took seven and made four from long distance and buried the Wildcats 90-68 for their first victory of the season.

Tonight, UTSA hosts Prairie View A&M, and fans are certain to see much of the same.

The Roadrunners will continue to play what is called “inside-out” basketball, hoping to collapse the defense and then pass out to the open man.

If the open man is standing behind the arc, he’s expected to take it and make it.

Earlier in the season, with UTSA playing its first five games away from home, the perimeter shooting in general was poor for a number of reasons.

But UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said earlier this week that the additional 16 and 3/4 inches on the three-point arc wasn’t a good thing initially for a team that was also trying to figure out its point guard situation.

“I think it affected us a little bit, since we are stretched out on the floor a little bit more,” Wallace said. “I feel like, sooner or later, we’re going to start using it to our advantage.

“We do have guys on our team that can shoot the ball. I feel like it’s going to stretch out the defense a little bit more.

“Once we start putting things together, start jelling a little bit more, I think it’ll be an advantage to us and not a disadvantage.”

Wallace said UTSA players worked hard over the summer in an attempt to adjust to the new court dimensions.

“I feel everyone was locked in and trying to get their shot adjusted,” he said. “Some guys have that shot, you know, muscle memory. When they shoot it, they know it’s going in. It’s just second nature.

“Guys had to make slight adjustments. You know, jump higher. Flick (the wrist) a little harder. We worked on it pretty well.”

UTSA made one major personnel adjustment after the 0-5 start.

In an effort to get a better flow on the offense, the Roadrunners moved freshman Erik Czumbel into the starting lineup at point guard and sent Wallace back out to the wing.

Wallace continued to struggle a bit with his shot against Wiley, hitting only 5 of 14 shots, including 2 of 7 from three.

But the feeling is that Wallace, who is shooting 29.7 percent from the field and 26.5 from three, will come around eventually.

There’s also a feeling that other shooters also will flourish once they get a few home games under their belt.

UTSA coach Steve Henson isn’t so much concerned about the new three-point arc as he is about the execution of the offense. He just wants to see his players take better shots.

“Exactly,” he said. “And to do that, we’ve got to get some different types of penetration. Some dribble penetration. We got to get some guys rolling to the basket. We need to get the ball into the post and then back out.”

Looking for a second straight victory, UTSA hosts Prairie View

As the UTSA Roadrunners prepare to host the Prairie View A&M Panthers Saturday night at the Convocation Center, they know what needs to happen as they continue efforts to dig out of a 1-5 hole to start to the season.

They need to keep making the defensive stops that turned up the tempo in the second half last Friday night against Wiley College.

They need to run the floor in the open court, move the ball around and let the shots fly with some confidence.

Against Wiley, they did that successfully after the halftime break, scoring 51 points on the NAIA program en route to a 90-68 victory.

Now it’s on to Prairie View, and a chance for UTSA to notch its first victory of the season against an NCAA Division I team.

“I feel like we still haven’t found our identity yet,” UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said. “You know, it’s still fairly early. We still got a lot more games to play. We’re not even close to conference yet.

“But I feel like we still got a lot of work to do. I feel like we haven’t reached our peak. We still got a lot of potential to bring out of this team.

“Throughout these next few practices, these next few games, we’re just going to keep getting better.”

Records

Prairie View A&M 2-5
UTSA 1-5