Willis scores 30 as Louisiana Tech routs UTSA, 95-71

Keaston Willis scored 30 points and Cobe Williams added 19 Saturday night as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs jumped on UTSA early and cruised to a 95-71 victory in Conference USA basketball.

Willis, a sophomore transfer from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, hit 10 of 14 shots from the field and 8 of 12 from three-point distance.

Leading by 15 points at intermission in the game played at Ruston, La., the Bulldogs kicked their offense into high gear, boosting the lead on the Roadrunners to as many as 28 with eight minutes remaining.

“Got whooped in every phase,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast.

As a result, Louisiana Tech made amends for a 63-60 loss at home to the UTEP Miners, while UTSA failed to capitalize on momentum from a 98-79 overtime road victory against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, with both games played Thursday night.

UTSA shot 24 percent in the first half and 41.7 percent for the the game en route to their 15th loss in their last 18 games.

In so many of their losses this season, the Roadrunners failed to get enough players involved in the scoring, and it happened again against the Bulldogs.

Center Jacob Germany produced 21 points and 10 rebounds. Gurd Dhieu Deing scored 15. But after that, there was not much production.

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah scored 21 on Thursday at Southern Miss. He was held to six against Louisiana Tech. Erik Czumbel had 16 against the Golden Eagles but was held scoreless against the Bulldogs.

Guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, coming back from an ankle injury, was also scoreless.

With the loss, UTSA fell to 0-2 against Louisiana Tech this season. LA Tech downed UTSA 79-63 on Jan. 8 in San Antonio.

First half

Louisiana Tech produced a series of highlight-reel moments in the first half, knocking down eight 3-pointers and two crowd-inspiring dunks en route to a 42-27 lead on the UTSA Roadrunners.

Willis hit five of the 3-pointers and had 17 points. Williams energized the fans with a dunk that pushed the Bulldogs to a 28-7 lead.

He came down the baseline and elevated before catching a lob from Kenneth Lofton Jr., and then slamming it. Not to be outdone, Amorie Archibald streaked downcourt on a fast break and threw down a tomahawk late in the half.

The Roadrunners were fortunate, in a sense, to be down by only 15 at halftime. They fell behind 10-0 and 18-2 in the game’s opening moments. They trailed by 21 three times before they started to attack and get to the free throw line.

Two free throws by Deing with 38 seconds left cut the lead to 40-27. For the half, the Roadrunners hit only 6 of 25 shots from the field and committed eight turnovers. Germany led the team at the break with nine points.

Records

UTSA 9-19, 2-13
Louisiana Tech 19-7, 10-4

Coming up

Feb. 24 — UAB at UTSA.
March 3 — North Texas at UTSA.
March 5 — Rice at UTSA.

Quotable

“We started the game with turnovers. They got hot right out of the gate. We wanted to open the game with a little bit of zone.

“We never even got into it, they were scoring so fast. Just a horrible start to the game, both ends of the floor,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast.

Added Henson: “We dug a huge hole in both halves and got whooped in every phase. Couldn’t keep the ball in front. Couldn’t get to the three-point shooters.

“Crazy part of is that Lofton never really (got) going. You know, he had some foul trouble.

“He’s a big part of what they do. They got so many good players around him, they were able to do it on a night when it wasn’t his best night.”

UTSA aims for another road victory at LA Tech

Coming off an emotional victory, the UTSA Roadrunners will attempt to complete a two-game road sweep today when they play the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Tipoff against one of the top teams in the Conference USA West division is at 6 p.m. in the Thomas Assembly Center at Ruston, La.

The Roadrunners were 0-10 on the road this season before they downed the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 98-79 in overtime Thursday night in Hattiesburg.

Led by Dhieu Deing and Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, UTSA knocked down 15 three-pointers in the victory over Southern Miss, hitting all five from beyond the arc in OT.

The Roadrunners outscored the Golden Eagles 22-3 in the five-minute, extra period.

With the victory, UTSA snapped out of a two-month funk, during which they lost 14 out of 16 games.

Louisiana Tech downed UTSA 79-63 on Jan. 8 in San Antonio, as guard Amorie Archibald scored 31 points for the Bulldogs.

Lately, the Dogs have hit a rough patch, losing four of their last seven games. In their last outing, they lost 63-60 at home to the UTEP Miners on Thursday night.

Louisiana Tech made 16 turnovers and missed 14 free throws in the loss to UTEP.

Records

UTSA 9-18, 2-12
Louisiana Tech 18-7, 9-4

Coming up

Feb. 24 — UAB at UTSA.
March 3 — North Texas at UTSA.
March 5 — Rice at UTSA.

Louisiana Tech nails 14 threes, scores a lopsided victory at UTSA

Lachlan Bofinger. The UTSA men's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 79-63 on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Lachlan Bofinger battles Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Lofton Jr. for a rebound Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center. Lofton and the Bulldogs won 79-63 to complete a two-game, Conference USA sweep in Texas this week. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the beginning, 6-foot-7, 275-pound sophomore Kenneth Lofton Jr. picked up a nifty steal on the perimeter and then made like a mack truck in over-drive, dribbling the length of the floor for a layup.

But in the end, it wasn’t really the Lofton show as much as it was an Amorie Archibald highlight reel.

UTSA limited Lofton to 5 of 14 shooting from the field, only to see Archibald and the Louisiana Tech perimeter players get on a red-hot shooting roll in a 79-63 victory for the Bulldogs over the slumping Roadrunners at the Convocation Center.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. The UTSA men's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 79-63 on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 22 points, including 13 in the second half. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Archibald, a senior guard, scored a game-high 31 points. He hit 12 of 14 shots from the field and 6 of 6 from three-point distance, helping his team sweep a two-game Conference USA road trip through Texas.

After downing the UTEP Miners in El Paso Thursday night, the Bulldogs came to San Antonio and toyed with the Roadrunners, knocking down 14 of 28 threes.

The performance sent UTSA reeling to its second-straight, C-USA loss of the week, both at home, and its fifth loss in its last six games overall.

Records

Louisiana Tech 13-3, 4-0
UTSA 7-9, 0-3

A coach’s lament

In a post-game visit with reporters, UTSA coach Steve Henson didn’t sugar-coat his feelings, implying that his locker room speech to players may have been a little bit blunt.

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Kenneth Lofton Jr. finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Lofton grabbed 34 rebounds combined in victories over UTEP and UTSA this week.. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But he also tried to stay positive with three straight road games looming.

“They know I’m not going to go in there and try to make ’em feel better,” Henson said. “You know, we lost a game and didn’t make enough plays to give ourselves a legitimate chance to win. I also told them there were some stretches, some things we can build on.

“We’ve got a great deal of respect for (LA Tech). They’re one of the two or three best teams in the league. They’ve got depth. They’ve got so many good players.”

UTSA dropped to 0-3 in conference for the second straight season. Last year, the Roadrunners pulled it together and finished 9-7 in the C-USA. Can they do something like that again? Let’s just say, there is a lot of work to be done.

Assessing the Bulldogs

How good are the Bulldogs?

They entered play ranked No. 70 in the NET rankings, the tool that the NCAA uses to sort out the relative strength of its 358 Division I teams. Going up against the Roadrunners, at No. 336, they were expected to win — and they did.

At the same time, it’s never easy to sweep a road trip in the C-USA, and they did it in workman-like fashion, winning at UTEP by 12 points and at UTSA by 16. In El Paso, they held the Miners to 33 percent shooting. In San Antonio, they shot 48.4 percent from the field, including 57.1 percent in the second half.

Cedrick Alley Jr. The UTSA men's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 79-63 on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Cedrick Alley Jr. squeezes off a shot Saturday afternoon against Louisiana Tech. – Photo by Joe Alexander

They led by as many as 23 mid-way through the second half after Archibald came out firing after intermission. Archibald was four-for-four from long distance in the half, and he celebrated after some of them by blowing kisses to the sky.

“My coaches and my teammates just tell me to keep shooting when I’m open,” he said. “Last game, I didn’t really play to the best of my abilities. I just wanted to come out and give my team my best effort.”

Archibald said he felt like the Bulldogs “played great” the day after a long day on the road.

“Coming from El Paso, that’s a lot of traveling,” Archibald said. “But I feel like we battled through the adversity. That’s what coach talks about a lot. You know, those (road) sweeps don’t really come a lot in Conference USA. So, we took that into consideration, that we could do it, and I feel like we executed.”

Individual highlights

Louisiana Tech — Archibald, 31 points. Cobe Williams, 15 points, including 5 of 8 on three pointers. Lofton, 12 points and 16 rebounds in 27 minutes.

UTSA — Jordan Ivy-Curry, 22 points on 9 of 17 shooting. Jacob Germany, 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting. Also, 13 rebounds. Off the bench, Lamin Sabally, 10 points on 3 of 5 shooting, including 2 of 3 on three pointers. Darius McNeil, 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 21 minutes off the bench.

Notable

The Roadrunners fell to 0-2 since they announced the departure of guard Dhieu Deing from the program. Deing had been averaging 15.3 points and 5 rebounds a game … Both Cedrick Alley, Jr., and Aleu Aleu were held to a combined three points. Pressured when he touched the ball on the perimter, Aleu went scoreless. He got off only one shot — a three-point attempt — and missed it. Alley was 1 for 7 from the field …

Darius McNeill. The UTSA men's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 79-63 on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior guard Darius McNeill finished with seven points, four rebounds and two assists off the bench. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Defensively, UTSA did a good job with Lofton, a 2021 Conference USA all-freshman team member. The sophomore from Port Arthur came in averaging 17.1 points. Outside of a few plays, he never found a rhythm while being shadowed by the taller Germany and banged around by Phoenix Ford and others … In bench play, UTSA got a little more production than it had been getting, with freshman Lamin Sabally and senior Darius McNeil leading the way. The Roadrunners also played well offensively in the second half, shooting 51.7 percent and scoring 37 after intermission.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Louisiana Tech shooting guard Keaston Willis. Willis played last year at San Antonio-based Incarnate Word and led the Cardinals into the Southland Conference tournament. Willis finished with 3 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. He was 1 for 8 from the field. Afterward, he met with some friends wearing the UIW red and black.

Coming up

Jan. 13 — UTSA at Old Dominion.
Jan. 15 — UTSA at Charlotte.
Jan. 20 — UTSA at UTEP.
Jan. 23 — UTEP at UTSA.

Frustrated Roadrunners know they can play at a higher level

Steve Henson. men's basketball lost to Southern Miss 74-73 on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson’s Roadrunners face a daunting stretch of games starting with Louisiana Tech at home on Saturday. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Plenty of questions swirled around the UTSA Roadrunners Friday morning as they prepared for a film session at noon, followed by a short practice and then an afternoon game Saturday against the powerful Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Guard Dhieu Deing, their leading scorer, has left the program to pursue professional basketball opportunities.

In addition, they’ve lost four of their last five games, including four straight against NCAA Division I competition.

Perhaps most concerning, the Roadrunners have now dropped their first two on the Conference USA schedule leading into Saturday’s 3 p.m. tipoff against Kenneth Lofton, Jr., and the Bulldogs.

It doesn’t get any easier after that as UTSA braces for three C-USA games in a row on the road.

Addressing the team’s situation after a 74-73 loss at home Thursday night to Southern Miss, UTSA coach Steve Henson acknowledged the challenge but maintained a positive outlook, given 16 games remaining on the C-USA schedule, including one Covid-related makeup.

“A lot of games left,” Henson said. “We got to play better, bottom line. This was an important game, because it was a home game. We talked about the early stretch (in conference) with a bunch of road games and home games against good opponents.

“So, it’s going to be important for our guys to stay together. They’re a little frustrated. We’re not playing the way we think we can. It doesn’t get any easier on Saturday. We know that. Then we go on the road for two.

“We got to keep our heads up and make progress.”

Coming up

Saturday, 3 p.m. — Louisiana Tech at UTSA.

Records

Louisiana Tech 12-3, 3-0
UTSA 7-8, 0-2

Notable

The Bulldogs ran their record in conference to 3-0 late Thursday night with a 64-52 road victory at UTEP. LA Tech smothered UTEP defensively, holding the Miners to 33 percent shooting. The Bulldogs also were aggressive in controlling the boards, 42-31.

Much of that was because of Lofton, who had 11 points and 18 rebounds. Outside of Lofton, one of the premier post players in the nation, sophomore guard Cobe Williams has evolved into a dangerous offensive threat.

Williams has scored 57 points in conference, including 22 against Marshall and 18 against Western Kentucky in home victories last week. The 6-footer from Dallas had 11 of his 17 on the Miners in the first half, when the Bulldogs surged to a 41-25 lead.

Lofton, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound sophomore, is averaging 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds.

Surprising UTSA set to play two today against No. 14 LA Tech

The UTSA Roadrunners have quietly started to drop subtle hints to the rest of Conference USA that they might be a factor in the postseason.

UTSA’s latest surprise came Friday night when it held on to beat the 14th-ranked Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 7-5 in a road game at Ruston, La. It was UTSA’s third win in its last five games — all against Top 25 competition.

After the Roadrunners rallied with three runs in the seventh to take the lead, they held on to win the first game of a four-game series behind the pitching of Hunter Mason and Arturo Guajardo.

Grant Miller earned the victory with 1 and 2/3 innings of work. Mason followed with scoreless innings in the seventh and the eighth. Guajardo, UTSA’s sixth pitcher, delivered with a scoreless ninth for the save.

Leyton Barry hit a two-run homer for the Roadrunners, who handed Tech starting pitcher Jonathan Fincher his first loss of the season. The Roadrunners and Bulldogs continue the series today in a 2 p.m. doubleheader. The finale is Sunday at 1 p.m.

Elsewhere:

Arkansas 6, Tennessee 5

Rankings: (1) Arkansas; (4) Tennessee
Friday’s rundown: Falling behind by five runs after the first inning, the top-ranked Razorbacks were sparked by home runs from Robert Moore and Brady Slavens to rally for the SEC road win.
Coming up: Game 2 of a three-game series today at 11 a.m., at Knoxville, Tenn.

Ole Miss 3, Vanderbilt 1

Rankings: (18) Ole Miss; (2) Vanderbilt
Friday’s rundown: Kevin Graham and TJ McCants homered for Ole Miss as the Rebels, playing at home, handed Kumar Rocker his second loss of the season.
Coming up: Game 2 of a three-game series today at 4 p.m., at Oxford, Miss.

Oklahoma 9, Texas Tech 8

Rankings: (7) Texas Tech
Friday’s rundown: Oklahoma scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th to take the first game of the Big 12 series. Jace Jung, from San Antonio MacArthur, slugged his 17th home run of the season for the Red Raiders.
Coming up: Game 2 of a three-game series today at 2 p.m. in Norman, Okla.

Archibald, Louisiana Tech romp past UTSA, 82-66

Guard Amorie Archibald was a perfect 4-for-4 on three-point shots in the first half Saturday night en route to a 22-point performance. Likewise, his Louisiana Tech Bulldogs teammates made it look easy in throttling the UTSA Roadrunners, 82-66.

While UTSA’s offense sputtered for most of the night, the Bulldogs sank 14 threes and shot 49 percent from the field to sweep both games from the Roadrunners in a Conference USA series at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston, La.

The Bulldogs jumped on the Roadrunners early for the second time in two nights. On Friday night, they pushed out to a 25-12 lead, lost some momentum and the lead in the second half and then gathered themselves for a 77-66 victory.

A night later, they surged 17-3 at the outset, held a 20-7 margin with 10:10 remaining and went on to lead the rest of the way.

Once again, UTSA’s early shooting was not great. The Roadrunners missed their first 14 of 15 attempts from the field. Finally they got it going and finished the half, 13 of 37, including 8 of 16 from three. Keaton Wallace hit three long balls in the late surge, as the Roadrunners pulled to within five at intermission.

In the second half, the Roadrunners hung around and pulled within six with 7:15 remaining on a Jhivvan Jackson three-pointer. But the Bulldogs rattled off seven points in a row at that point to take charge.

Inexplicably, UTSA’s impatience on offense fueled the surge, taking three ill-advised shots in a row, one of them leading to an Isaiah Crawford three-pointer and another setting up another Crawford bucket, this one an eight-foot, stick back off an offensive rebound.

All of a sudden, LA Tech led 68-55 with 5:20 remaining. UTSA never got closer than eight the rest of the way to remain winless on the road (0-7) this season.

Louisiana Tech played for the second straight night without its leading scorer, guard Kalob Ledoux, who sat out with an injury.

Notable

UTSA finished with a season-low 33.8 shooting from the field (22 of 65). Jackson and Wallace combined to take 40 of the shots, making only 11. Wallace finished with 22 points and Jackson 14. Jacob Germany, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, had seven points on a 3 of 8 night afield. Louisiana Tech hit 25 of 51 as a team and spread out the scoring among several players. Crawford finished with 15 points and Kenneth Lofton, Jr., a freshman from Port Arthur, produced 12. The 6-foot-7, 280-pound Lofton also pulled down 13 rebounds.

Quotable

“We started the game so poorly offensively…Hung in there. Hung in there. Yeah, they were bombing in threes the whole game. Never really stopped,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. The coach said some of Louisiana Tech’s open perimeter shots came as a result of UTSA double-teaming in the post, but others were cases where defenders “were there (in position to defend), just not aggressively enough contesting.”

After the poor start offensively, Henson said his players strung together some good possessions with ball movement. But in the second half, the decision-making was questionable. “We don’t get anything inside,” Henson said. “We can’t drive it and get fouled. That element is lacking for us. (If) we’re settling for hard, contested shots, it’s going to be rough.”

Records

UTSA 5-8, 1-5 (7th place in the 7-team C-USA West)
Louisiana Tech 11-4, 4-2 (tied for 3rd, C-USA West)
Note: Six teams from the West and East divisions qualify for the C-USA tournament)

Coming up

Southern Miss at UTSA, Friday, 6 p.m.
Southern Miss at UTSA, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Louisiana Tech rallies at home for a 77-66 victory over UTSA

Chalk this one up as a missed opportunity.

Jhivvan Jackson was on fire. The UTSA Roadrunners were up by six with just under 10 minutes left. And the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs were without injured leading scorer Kalob Ledoux.

It didn’t matter. The Bulldogs shut down the Roadrunners’ offense down the stretch and cruised to a 77-66 Conference USA victory at the Thomas Assembly Center, in Ruston, La.

Louisiana Tech closed on a 21-4 run in the final 9:18, improving to 10-4 on the season and to 3-2 in the C-USA. On the cusp of what might have been its first road win of the year, UTSA nevertheless fell to 5-7 and 1-4.

Amorie Archibald led the Bulldogs with 19 points, followed by Jacolby Pemberton with 18. Boosting the play of the two guards, 6-foot-10, 260-pound center Andrew Gordon scored 14 off the bench, including 10 in the last five minutes of the game.

Jackson, NCAA Division I’s leader in career scoring among active players, finished with 25 points to lead the Roadrunners. Keaton Wallace had 18. Jacob Germany, UTSA’s third leading scorer behind Jackson and Wallace, was held to two points.

Notable

UTSA’s offense was humming, having hit six shots in a row, when a drought cost the team the game. The Roadrunners connected on only 2 of 13 in the final 9:21. UTSA didn’t enjoy the best of fortune during the fateful stretch as Jackson hoisted three or four that looked like they were going in, only to dance around on the rim and then lip out.

Quotable

UTSA coach Steve Henson said it was a “difficult stretch” during which he thinks the Roadrunners lost some of their composure. “Just didn’t get good shots,” he told the team’s radio broadcast. “I mean, Jhivvan had the hot hand. Obviously, we tried to keep riding that when we could. Sometimes when a guy takes over like that, then everybody gets caught watching. We needed him to keep going. But we needed someone else to step up there. We couldn’t get that done.

“We talk about our concerns defensively. We got to be a better defensive team. I get frustrated with our offense. We’re in a position to win a game on the road against a great team. We come down there and don’t compete, don’t execute for a good shots. Again, Keaton and Jhivvan can hit shots that look hard. But we still got to get the ball moving and take the right types of shots in those situations.”

By the numbers

Among the UTSA starters, Jackson and Wallace combined for 43 points. But the three others — Jacob Germany, Eric Parrish and Erik Czumbel — scored only four between them. Cedrick Alley Jr., who has missed time lately with a groin injury, returned to play 17 minutes. He scored eight points on 3 of 5 shooting. Freshman guard Jordan Ivy-Curry finished with nine points on 4 of 7 shooting. He also had three rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes. With the loss, UTSA fell to 0-6 on the road. In conference play, UTSA has two road losses at Rice, a split at home against North Texas and now another road loss at Louisiana Tech.

Records

UTSA 5-7, 1-4
Louisiana Tech 10-4, 3-2

Coming up

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

True to the nickname, ‘Juice’ brings a spark to UTSA

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA beat North Texas 77-69 in a Conference USA game on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry averaged 31.5 points last year as a senior for the Class 4A La Marque High School Cougars. — Photo by Joe Alexander

His given name is Jordan Ivy-Curry. But all his friends at UTSA call him “Juice.” As in, plug him into a basketball game and feel the electricity. How did he get the nickname?

“Around seventh or eighth grade, playing at a park in the neighborhood,” the UTSA freshman said. “You know, I was playing against some grown-ups. Shooting the ball. Making a lot of shots. It was like, ‘You got the juice.’ So ever since then, they been calling me ‘Juice.’ ”

Getting a nickname is a badge of honor in the Houston area, where Ivy-Curry grew up. Back in the ‘60s, they had David “Big Daddy” Lattin, who went on to lead the Texas Western College Miners to the 1966 NCAA title.

In the ‘80s, they had Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon on a couple of Final Four teams at the University of Houston, along with Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and Larry “Mr. Mean” Michaux.

Ivy-Curry started to turn heads on the playground when he was 11. Within a few years, he gravitated to games with players much older. With high school-age players. Though he was under-sized, he challenged himself.

“Yeah, I got some buckets,” Ivy-Curry recalled. “Two from half court.”

Years later, playing for the La Marque High School Cougars, “Juice” continued to shoot it. He had the green light and the skills to rack up more than 2,000 points in his career, eclipsing 50 points in a game three times as a senior last season.

At UTSA, the scoring machines in residence are seniors by the name of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. “Juice” plays off the bench in a supporting role for the Roadrunners, averaging a modest 5.8 points in 15.5 minutes per game.

But to a certain extent, those numbers belie his value to the team.

With the Roadrunners scheduled to play on Friday and Saturday at Louisiana Tech, the freshman has emerged as a player who has seen court time in the second half in all four of UTSA’s Conference USA games, including crunch-time minutes in a 77-69 victory over North Texas last Saturday.

In one memorable sequence, sophomore guard Erik Czumbel fired a skip pass cross the court to Ivy-Curry. As a North Texas defender ran at the UTSA freshman, he dribbled into open space and lobbed it up for center Jacob Germany, who dunked it.

“It felt good,” Ivy-Curry said. “I felt like, when I made that play, it brought the team energy up, the crowd energy up. We just had the momentum our way. Just a great feeling. Even though I had zero points (in the game) I felt like I had five points on that play.”

Germany called Ivy-Curry “a great player,” who will get better as the years go by. “In high school, he was a huge scorer, and I could see him doing that here in a year or two,” the sophomore from Oklahoma said. “For him, it’s just experience and confidence.”

When told that Ivy-Curry had mentioned playing against older players as a young man, Henson smiled, because he has seen some of that competitive fire from him in practices already.

“He’s got that right level of confidence, swag,” Henson said. “He respects Jhivvan and Keaton. He tries to get after ‘em in practice every day. He’s usually matched up with one of those two guys, and he fights and competes. Got a great deal of confidence. He just plays. It’s kind of refreshing.”

Continued Henson: “He reads situations well. His instincts offensively are very, very good. Defensively, he’s conscientious. He’s trying to learn our schemes. Trying to work on his habits. Yeah, he’s fun. He’s fun at practice.

“(We) had a practice prior to North Texas, and at the end of a segment he rattled off 10 straight. Two threes and two twos. Just like it was nothing. It doesn’t really even phase us that he does that. He’s just such a natural scorer.”

He is the “Juice.”

Coming up

UTSA at Louisiana Tech, 6:30 p.m., Friday
UTSA at Louisiana Tech, 6 p.m., Saturday

Records

UTSA 5-6, 1-3
Louisiana Tech 9-4, 2-2

‘Bad Bird’ call: Henson hopes fans turn out for LA Tech at UTSA

Steve Henson. Old Dominion beat UTSA 65-64 on Thursday night in a Conference USA game at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson on Wednesday thanked the fans for their continued support even through a slow start. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Coming off a lost week in Florida and preparing to host the powerful Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, UTSA coach Steve Henson issued an appeal to the Roadrunners Nation.

He said Wednesday that he’d like to see as many UTSA supporters as possible attend Conference USA home games on Thursday night against Louisiana Tech and on Saturday afternoon against Southern Miss.

“It’s early on in the race,” Henson said, “but we know that if we want to do something special, we’ve got to win our home games.

“We feel like LA Tech is one of the best teams (in the C-USA) … If they’re not the best team, at least they’re playing at that level, so it’s a very, very important game for us, to get back home.

“Home court advantage is really, really helpful.

“When the band is here, when the students are here, we feed off that. Because of the size of our building, it doesn’t have to be 100 percent full. We get that lower bowl filled up over there, it’s good.”

UTSA ranks 12th in the 14-team, C-USA in attendance, averaging only 899 (announced) through six home games.

Henson thanked the fans for their support even though the team hasn’t played as well as expected to this point.

“The season-ticket holders, the fans that sit behind us, have been out in pretty good force for us early in the year, particularly, considering we haven’t had a great start,” he said. “But our loyal supporters have been here.

“The students, we know they’ll get here when school starts. But, you know, they can come even when school’s not in session.”

With the first day of classes set for Jan. 21, UTSA students are still on break.

Nevertheless, Henson said he’s counting on the “Bad Birds,” a boisterous student group that sits behind the media on press row and travels to games in the local area, to give the team a lift.

“The Bad Birds helped us out at Texas State, I know that,” Henson said. “We just need a bunch more Bad Birds.”

Coming up

LA Tech (11-3, 2-0) at UTSA (6-9, 0-2), 6 p.m. Thursday

UTSA update

UTSA opened its C-USA schedule with losses last Thursday at Florida Atlantic (79-64) and at Florida International (90-83, overtime) … The Roadrunners allowed a three-point lead to slip away in the final eight seconds of regulation at FIU on Saturday night …

It is the first time in seven seasons of C-USA competition that UTSA has started conference with an 0-2 record…the Roadrunners haven’t started 0-3 since their one and only season in the Western Athletic Conference in 2012-13 …

Forward Eric Parrish practiced in team drills with the Roadrunners for the first time this week … UTSA is waiting on a ruling from the NCAA to determine whether he can play this season … Henson said guard Adokiye Iyaye is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken right thumb … Forward Phoenix Ford went home to Florida to attend a funeral but is expected to be available against LA Tech.

Louisiana Tech update

LA Tech extended its winning streak to five games by routing Southern Miss at home (80-49) and on the road (78-50) to open conference last week … McNeese State transfer Kalob Ledoux comes off the bench to lead the Bulldogs in scoring (13.1). Starters DaQuan Bracey (12.6) and Amorie Archibald (11.9) also average in double figures … The Bulldogs are No. 62 in the NCAA’s NET ratings, the highest rating for a C-USA team.

The series

LA Tech leads UTSA 12-5 in the all-time series. However, under Henson, the Roadrunners hold a 3-2 edge against the Bulldogs over the past three seasons. All five games have been decided by 10 points or less … Here’s a look:

Feb. 16, 2019, at Ruston — Louisiana Tech 72, UTSA 67. DaQuan Bracey scores 23, and lead changes hands 13 times, with nine ties.

Feb. 24, 2018, at San Antonio — UTSA 74, Louisiana Tech 64. Deon Lyle scores 11 of his team-high 17 in the second half.

Jan. 4, 2018, at Ruston — UTSA 78, Louisiana Tech 76. Giovanni De Nicolao hits game-winning layup with one second left.

Feb. 11, 2017, at San Antonio — Louisiana Tech 72, UTSA 66. Erik McCree produces 25 points, 9 rebounds and a block for the Bulldogs.

Jan. 7, 2017, at Ruston — UTSA 69, Louisiana Tech 68. Jeff Beverly scores 27 and Giovanni De Nicolao hits a three in the last minute for the Roadrunners.

Bracey scores 23 as Louisiana Tech knocks off UTSA, 72-67

DaQuan Bracey scored six of his game-high 23 points in the final 1:35 Saturday to lift the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to a 72-67 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

UTSA’s hopes of a regular-season title in Conference USA took a major hit, as the Roadrunners made too many mistakes down the stretch and hit only 5 of 29 for the game on three pointers.

Old Dominion leads the C-USA title chase at 11-3. Western Kentucky, Southern Miss and UTSA are 9-5. UAB and North Texas are 8-6.

Coming up

UTSA next will complete the regular season with four games in the C-USA’s new bonus play format.

Group 1 teams in bonus play will include No. 1 Old Dominion, followed by No. 2 Western Kentucky, No. 3 Southern Miss, No. 4 UTSA and No. 5 UAB.

Projected pairings

A C-USA spokesman said earlier this week that No. 4 would host Nos. 1 and 5 and play on the road against 2 and 3.

Which means, presumably, that UTSA will host Old Dominion and UAB and play on the road at Western Kentucky and Southern Miss.

Trying to hold on for the regular-season title, Old Dominion is expected to host Western Kentucky and Southern Miss and play on the road at UTSA and UAB.

The official pairings and schedule are expected to be released tonight.

Records

UTSA 15-12, 9-5
Louisiana Tech 17-10, 7-7