UTSA returns home after postponement of season opener

The UTSA men’s basketball team was on an unscheduled bus trip from Norman, Okla., to San Antonio Wednesday afternoon.

The Roadrunners were in Norman, set to play the Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams. But the game was called off in the wake Covid-19 issues in the OU program.

A UTSA spokesman said in a text that the two coaching staffs would work to re-schedule the game in the next few months.

As a result, the Roadrunners were traveling back home.

UTSA is now scheduled to open at home against UT Permian Basin at 3 p.m. Friday. Afterward, UTSA will travel to Edinburg, where the team will meet UT Rio Grande Valley at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Before the team left for Oklahoma, UTSA announced that Jhivvan Jackson, the program’s all-time leading scorer, would not play the first two games of the season because of a violation of team rules. The statement said he would be eligible to return against UT Rio Grande Valley.

Now that the OU game has been scrapped, it’s uncertain when Jackson will see his first action of the season, whether it’s on Saturday against UTPB or on Dec. 4 in a home game against Sul Ross.

Armed with an improved Jacob Germany, UTSA to open at OU

Jacob Germany. UAB beat UTSA in CUSA on Thursday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Expectations are high for sophomore center Jacob Germany as UTSA opens the season Wednesday night at the University of Oklahoma. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

Who says a kid from a small town in Oklahoma can’t learn how to become a man of the world?

Jacob Germany is doing just that after spending only one year in the UTSA basketball program.

Jacob Germany. Prarie View A&M beat UTSA 79-72 on Saturday night at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA fans remember Jacob Germany’s attacks at the rim last season. He averaged 5.5 points as a freshman – Photo by Joe Alexander

“One of my roommates (Erik Czumbel) is actually from Italy,” Germany told a television reporter over the summer. “He’s teaching me Italian on the low. That’s fun.

“It’s crazy to see the different cultures on the team and see how basketball can bring other cultures together.”

Not only is Germany growing as a person, he’s made significant strides on the hardwood, as well.
The 6-foot-11 sophomore from Kingston, Okla., is emerging as the type of impact player in college that was expected of him after leading his high school to the Class 3A state title in 2018-19.

“Jacob’s doing great,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “He gained some weight. Gained some muscle. You know, he’s so talented. It’s amazing the things he can do that look so easy.

Ja - photo by Joe Alexander

Germany entered high school at 6-foot-5 but kept on growing into a lanky, 6-11 frame. After a year at UTSA, he’s gained almost 20 pounds, up to 234. — Photo by Joe Alexander

“We’re just trying to get him to go harder, play with energy, fly around. He’s literally the fastest guy on the team, on turf, in 20-yard sprints. He’s an amazing athlete.

“We’re just trying to get him to play hard every single possession.”

The Roadrunners open the season Wednesday night in Germany’s home state, at the University of Oklahoma.

Fans at OU will see a different athlete than the one that led Kingston to a 28-2 record a few years ago.

He’s packed on about 20 pounds, which, along with the 31 games he played last year, has added an entirely different dimension to his game.

Adding more to his game

“With Jacob, the big thing for him is experience,” UTSA assistant Scott Thompson said. “You know, playing at our level last year was so important for him.”

Reports out of the weight room suggest that he has also emerged as one of the strongest players on the team.

“He’s a guy that’s benefited so much from coach (Christian) Wood’s strength program,” Thompson said. “His body continues to change. He’s been up to 234, I think, at one point. For his length and height, to be able to run and move like he does, you know, is unbelievable.

“This offseason, he spent a lot of time working on his ball skills. I think you’re going to see him score a lot more in the paint. Facing up at 10 and 12 feet, he’s shooting his jumper so much more consistently.”

Germany averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds last season, but he showed last week that he is capable of more, contributing 24 points in an intra-squad scrimmage at UTSA.

“The game is so easy for him,” UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez said. “He’s so big, so athletic, all you have to do is throw it up (for him). When he jumps, there’s not much else anybody can do.”

Becoming a prep star

Kingston coach Taylor Wiebener said it was “a lot of fun” to coach Germany in high school.

“To be able to put a 6-10 or 6-11 guy on the floor, you know, there’s not a lot of high schools around here able to do that,” he said Monday in a telephone interview. “Throw on top of that, (that) Jacob is very skilled for a big man (and) he moves around so well. So, that was kind of icing on the cake.

“We felt good having him on the floor, just protecting the rim, and (scoring), as well. I mean, Jacob was fun to coach.

“Early in his career, I made it basically my mission to try to make him tougher, because he had the tools … But,the one thing he was going to have to have, was some toughness.”

Basically, Wiebener tried to get maximum effort out of his lanky center.

‘In the gym constantly’

“That was kind of our goal,” Wiebener said. “He took care of a lot of the fundamental skills on his own. He was a gym rat. I mean, he was in the gym constantly, working on things. So that part, we didn’t have to worry about.”

Initially, Wiebener didn’t know what he had in Germany, who was about 6-foot-5 as a high school freshman.

“Honestly, he was a little awkward,” Wiebener said. “Like, eighth and ninth grade, he was tall (and) real skinny. Kind of awkward. So I said, ‘He’s fixing to stop growing pretty quick.’ But, every summer … I wouldn’t see him, (and when) he’d come back, it seemed like he’d grown another 2-3 inches.

“By the time he graduated, he was a legit 6-10 or 6-11.”

Coaching Germany at the high school level was an adventure in terms of trying to get him to add weight, Wiebener said.

“I remember his sophomore or junior year, we had been on him about it,” the coach said. “I told him, ‘Your dad is a chef. You’re the only kid I know that, your dad’s a chef, and you’re as skinny as you are.’ Once he hit that 200-pound mark, that was kind of a milestone for us.”

Winning a state title

As a junior, Germany used the added strength in leading Kingston to the state finals.

He also saw his name rise on the prospect lists. As a senior, Germany paced his team all the way to the title, producing 21 points and 12 rebounds in the 3A championship game.

Another challenge for him as he entered college last year came in adjusting to the speed of the game.

Because the Roadrunners play at a tempo that is rated as one of the fastest in NCAA Division I, Henson’s players need to have the ability to run well and run hard for sustained periods of time.

By the end of last season, Germany was picking it up on that front. He had gained a better feel for everything, really, and as a result, he was able to move into UTSA’s starting lineup.

Now, he wants to take another step as he starts his sophomore year.

“All around, really, I’ve been putting on some weight,” he said Monday on a Zoom conference call. “I’ve been working on my motor. Going (hard) all the time. Not taking plays off. Just being that energetic guy that the coaches want me to be.

“That’s really where I’ve stepped up.”

Growing as a person

Asked how his Italian language skills are coming along, he shrugged and said he’s made “very little” progress along those lines.

“It’s probably words I can’t say on camera,” Germany said, smiling.

During the offseason, Germany said he worked out at a gym at his church back home in Kingston, a town of about 1,700 people nestled near Lake Texoma, just to the north of the Red River in southern Oklahoma.

He worked on some moves on the court, but, mainly, he said he worked on his mental game.

“It was hard being a freshman and everyone expected me to do all this stuff,” he said. “Especially being from a small town, coming to this big, big city … Especially coming from a small school where there’s not so much competition.

“There was a lot of pressure on me last year. If I did anything bad, I would get really mad. I wouldn’t necessarily show it. But, like, I had real bad anger issues. Over quarantine I was able to grow mentally and mature a little bit.”

Earning a starting job

Germany, who started 10 games at the end of last season, is expected to start in the post for the Roadrunners against the Sooners.

Alongside Germany, the others in the first five are expected to include Cedrick Alley Jr. at a forward position, plus Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Eric Parrish at guards.

Jackson and Wallace formed the highest-scoring backcourt duo in the nation last year. Parrish and Alley are transfers playing in their first games for UTSA.

Henson said Germany has been “really, really good” in preseason workouts.

“Our expectations of him are so high, higher than he has of himself, even,” Henson said. “Every now and then, we’ll think, ‘He didn’t have the greatest practice.’ And then we’ll look and (we ask), ‘What did he look like a year ago? (The difference) is phenomenal, (in) the improvement he’s made.

“So, the sky’s the limit for him. He’s just barely scratching his potential.”

Baylor routs Oklahoma, surges into tie for first in Big 12

The Baylor Bears on Monday night continued their surprising ascent in the Big 12 standings with an easy 77-47 road victory at Oklahoma.

Baylor is 5-1 and has won five straight in the wake of a season-ending knee injury to starting center Tristan Clark, a sophomore from Wagner.

With the victory over Oklahoma, Baylor moved into a tie for first in the conference with Kansas and Kansas State.

The Bears used a 30-8 run in the first half to break the game open, taking a 37-16 lead on a jumper by Freddie Gillespie with 2:42 left in the half.

Trailing by 18 at intermission, the Sooners never got closer than 16 in the second half.

Eleven players scored for the Bears, who shot 54.4 percent and were led by Makai Mason’s 12 points.

Baylor limited Oklahoma to 27.3 percent from the field.

Records

Baylor 14-6, 5-2
Oklahoma 15-6, 3-5

Culver’s double-double lifts Texas Tech over Oklahoma, 66-59

Guard Jarrett Culver produced 23 points and a career-high 13 rebounds Tuesday night, pacing the eighth-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders to a 66-59 victory over the No. 23 Oklahoma Sooners.

In one way, the Red Raiders won the game at the free throw line, hitting 17 of 17 to the Sooners’ 10 of 14.

Texas Tech made all six free throws in the final 45 seconds to help seal its third win without a loss in Big 12 play.

The Red Raiders also played their standard solid ball game defensively, holding the Sooners to 20 of 62 from the field, for 32.3 percent.

Only two Sooners’ players reached double figures, with Christian James scoring 14 and Brady Manek 13.

Records

Oklahoma 12-3, 1-2
Texas Tech 14-1, 3-0

Individuals

Oklahoma — Christian James, 14 points, on 4 of 12 shooting. Brady Manek, 13 points, on 4 of 10 shooting.

Texas Tech — Jarrett Culver, 23 points, 13 rebounds, 8 of 13 field goals. Davide Moretti, 12 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals. Tariq Owens, 4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks. Off the bench, Brandone Francis, 8 points.

Notable

Oklahoma entered the game coming off a seven-point loss at Kansas and a 10-point victory at home against Oklahoma State. Texas Tech had won on the road at West Virginia and at home against Kansas State. With the win over Oklahoma, the Red Raiders improved to 10-0 at home.

Quotable

“I think Oklahoma is going to be part of the fight (for the conference title), so this is a really good win for us.” — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said on the team’s radio broadcast.


Texas Tech’s Norense Odiase produced eight points on 3 of 3 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 at the line.

Oklahoma rallies in the second half to beat UTSA, 87-67

UTSA sophomore guard Keaton Wallace. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UTSA sophomore Keaton Wallace pulls up for a shot Monday night with OU forward Brady Manek defending. Wallace scored a team-high 16 points. — Photo by Joe Alexander

For UTSA basketball fans stressing out over an 0-2 start, there’s really no reason to panic.

Roadrunners coach Steve Henson will find a way — that is, if you believe Oklahoma Sooners coach Lon Kruger.

Trailing by four points six minutes into the second half Monday night, Kruger’s Sooners powered past the Roadrunners, 87-67.

A crowd of 2,494 at he Convocation Center watched as OU manufactured a 39-15 run in the last 14 minutes to turn back a UTSA upset bid.

Combined with a 77-76 loss last week to Division II St. Edward’s, the Roadrunners remain winless leading into a Wednesday night road test at Oklahoma State.

Kruger suggested afterward that Henson, his longtime former assistant, will figure it out.

Remember, Henson is the guy who arrived at UTSA in 2016 to take over a team with five victories the previous season.

UTSA won 14 games in the coach’s first year, followed by 20 last year.

It’s an achievement that has surprised even Kruger, Henson’s coaching mentor since the late 1980s.

“No one is going to work harder at it than Steve and do it with more integrity than Steve,” Kruger said. “That they did it so quickly (in turning around the program) may be a little bit of a surprise.

“No, he’s got all the qualities to be an outstanding coach. He’s been one for two years, and I expect that to continue.

“I like his ball club this year a lot,” said Kruger, whose Sooners improved to 2-0. “You get (Jhivvan) Jackson back healthy and a couple others playing well, I like his team a whole lot.”

Jackson, UTSA’s leading scorer, is due back in December following knee surgery last spring.

Without him, the Roadrunners lack a go-to man when they need a bucket.

As a result, UTSA shot 44 percent against St. Edward’s and followed with 35.6 percent against Oklahoma.

The Roadrunners have also been turnover prone.

They had 19 in the opener and 14 against the Sooners, including several down the stretch.

Henson characterized the team’s mood after the loss as disappointed, “as it should be.”

“Disappointed that we didn’t play the way we needed to,” Henson said. “We fought, competed. Our effort was good. Our focus was good. Preparation was good, and they’re a good team.

“The main topic was turnovers. Some forced. Some unforced. They trapped us a little bit, which is something I thought our team would thrive off of … But (we) didn’t handle that very well.”

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger watched as his team overcame a four-point, second-half deficit to beat UTSA by 20. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Individuals

Oklahoma — Shooting guard Christian James scored a game-high 24 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Point guard Aaron Calixte had 18 points and four assists. Forward Brady Manek contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds.

UTSA — Guard Keaton Wallace had 16 points, four assists, two blocks and a steal. Forward Nick Allen scored 15. Point guard Giovanni De Nicolao had 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven turnovers.

First half

With the offense struggling, the Roadrunners went scoreless for the first eight minutes and fell behind, 7-0. But after trailing by 12, they rallied with a 23-11 run to tie the game. Keaton Wallace hit consecutive threes in the streak, including one from long distance (see video below). OU retaliated with an 11-1 run to the buzzer, lifting OU into a 39-29 lead at the break.

Second half

The Roadrunners enjoyed the best six-minute stretch of the season at the outset, roaring from behind with a 23-9 run to take a 52-48 lead. Nick Allen keyed the streak with three baskets, including a driving layup, a three-pointer and a layup. De Nicolao and Wallace also added threes during the streak. Undaunted, the Sooners countered with solid bench play from Miles Reynolds and Jamal Bienemy. A Bienemy steal and layup, a jumper and another layup put OU up by five. The Sooners would not look back.

Nick Allen. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Nick Allen drives to the hoop against Oklahoma’s Christian James. Allen finished with 15 points.

Nick Allen predicts ‘electric’ atmosphere for OU-UTSA

Nick Allen. St. Edward's beat UTSA 77-76 in men's basketball on Wednesday night, Nov. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Nick Allen

Attendance at UTSA men’s basketball is notoriously modest.

Last year, the Roadrunners won 20 games for the first time in seven years, and the biggest crowd of the season was 2,210 for UTEP.

Historically, it’s a considered a good night when 1,200 or 1,300 fans turn out. Last year, the average was 1,146.

Crowd watchers will be on alert tonight when the Oklahoma Sooners tip off against the Roadrunners at 7 p.m.

Likely, Oklahoma is the most high profile program that UTSA has ever hosted at the Convocation Center, considering that OU plays in one of the major conferences and only three years ago was playing in the Final Four.

“It’s awesome,” UTSA forward Nick Allen said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show that we can play at that level. There’s not really that much separation between these levels of schools.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Allen can’t wait to see what the atmosphere will be like.

“It’s going to be electric,” he predicted. “It’s going to be big time. It’ll be a lot of fun. People are going to be really into it. We’re really, really into it.

“We’re super-duper excited. I can’t wait.”

Asked what it would be like to play in front of a full house of people every night, Allen’s eyes lit up.

“That would be amazing, he said. “I think that is such an advantage when it comes to any sport. You come into someone else’s home and you feel the energy.

“You feel … not only do you play against five peoople, but I can feel a whole arena of people that do not like me and do not want me to win.”

UTSA played well against OU last year in Norman, trailing by single digits until the last few minutes. The Sooners eventually pulled out a 97-85 victory.

“It was different,” Allen said. “They had Trae Young on the floor, so they played a very different style of basketball. They played very open. The court was very, very spread.

“I think this year, it’s going to be a little bit different because they’re not going to have that. I think they’re going to play with more strength than speed and open-ness.”

OU opened its season with a 91-76 road victory at UT Pan American, while UTSA surprisingly lost at home to a Division II opponent, falling 77-76 to St. Edward’s.

Allen said UTSA has been “locked in, really focused” in practices since the opener.

“We’re not exactly OK with what happened … it put a little taste in our mouth, and we came to work, so, practices have been really good,” he said.

UTSA didn’t shoot the ball very well and, at other times, suffered from too many possessions in which they didn’t get a shot because of turnovers.

“There was some youthfulness to it, definitely,”‘ Allen said. “It’s the first game of the season, so there’s always that …. It was just little things. Like, little wrinkles. Just, attention to detail.”

Kansas holds off top-ranked Texas 3-2 at Big 12 tournament

Jackson Goddard pitched into the seventh inning Wednesday to lead eighth-seeded Kansas past No. 1 Texas 3-2 on opening day at the Big 12 baseball tournament at Oklahoma City. Kansas piching held the regular-season champion Longhorns to only four hits.

Records

Kansas 27-28
Texas 37-20

Baylor blanks Oklahoma

Earlier in the day, Cody Bradford struck out 11 batters in 7 and 2/3 innings as fifth-seeded Baylor shut out No. 4 Oklahoma, 4-0. It was Baylor’s first victory at the Big 12 tournament under third-year coach Steve Rodriguez. Baylor hadn’t won at the tournament since 2015.

Records

Baylor 33-29
Oklahhoma 34-20

Big 12 baseball tournament

Wednesday’s scores

Kansas 3, Texas 2
Baylor 4, Oklahoma 0
Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia
Texas Tech vs. TCU

Thursday’s games

Texas vs. Oklahoma, 9 a.m.
TBA, 12:30 p.m.
Kansas vs. Baylor, 4 p.m.
TBA, 7:30 p.m.

Rhode Island ends Oklahoma’s season, 83-78, in overtime

Trae Young’s momentous freshman year is over.

Now we wait to see if his college career has expired, as well.

Trailing by four points at halftime, seventh-seeded Rhode Island rallied Thursday to oust Young and the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners 83-78 in overtime in a round-of-64 NCAA Tournament game.

Young, with dazzling shot-making and play-making ability, soared into consideration for national Player of the Year honors in November, December and January.

He erupted for a season-high 48 points on Jan. 28 at Oklahoma State.

But the narrative of his memorable season, which included four 40-point outbursts, did not have a happy ending.

Young was stymied in his ultimate goal of leading the Sooners on a deep run in the tournament.

He played a steady game against Rhode Island, finishing with 28 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

But Young also had six turnovers, and he missed his first three field goal attempts in overtime.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews and Fatts Russell made the plays that counted.

Matthews, in particular, was brilliant down the stretch with two three-pointers in the extra period.

As for OU’s future, a lot depends on Young’s decision concerning the NBA draft.

He led the nation in scoring and assists and surely would make plenty of NBA teams better next year.

Most scouts seem to think he is still a first-round pick, as Sports Illustrated has reported, and first-round status still guarantees millions of dollars.

But you wonder after the Sooners’ late-season swoon whether he would consider returning to college, especially under a player’s coach like Lon Kruger.

We’ll see.

Stats leaders

Oklahoma: Trae Young, 28 points on 9 of 18 shooting, 3 of 9 from three. Also, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 6 turnovers.

Rhode Island: E.C. Matthews, 16 points, 5 rebounds.

Records

Rhode Island, 26-7. Oklahoma, 18-14.

Coming up

Rhode Island advances in the Midwest Region to face either No. 2 Duke or 15th-seeded Iona.

Graham leads No. 8 Kansas past slumping Oklahoma, 104-74

Eighth-ranked Kansas played at a championship level Monday night, following the lead of senior point guard Devonte’ Graham to a 104-74 victory over the slumping Oklahoma Sooners.

Shooting for a 14th straight Big 12 regular-season title, Kansas won its third in a row to move into first place by a half game over Texas Tech.

Graham produced 23 points and seven assists, while guiding an offense that hit the 100-point barrier for the first time in conference play and the fourth time overall this season.

OU freshman sensation Trae Young, the nation’s leader in scoring (29.0) and assists (9.2), struggled again with his shot.

Though the 6-foot-2 point guard passed for nine assists, Young made only 3 of 13 from the field to score a season-low 11 — 18 below his average.

Young simply doesn’t appear to have the same explosive burst that he did in November and December.

He has hit only 14 of 50 shots from the floor in his last three games.

Records

Kansas 22-6, 11-4
Oklahoma 16-11, 6-9

Big picture

Kansas — The up and down Jayhawks are getting hot at the right time. They hit 60.9 percent from the field and 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from three.

Oklahoma — Once regarded as a premier team nationally, the Sooners have dropped nine of their last 11. They need to start winning just to make the 68-team NCAA tournament field.

Quotable

“We’re a better basketball team than we were three weeks ago. I do believe that,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in comments posted on KU social media.

Graham, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., said it felt great to see the Jayhawks play so well. “We haven’t won like this in a while,” he said.

Coming up

Kansas at Texas Tech, Saturday
Kansas State at Oklahoma, Saturday

Evans scores 26 as No. 7 Texas Tech beats Oklahoma, 88-78

Texas Tech’s best season in 13 years just got a little better.

Guard Keenan Evans scored 26 points Tuesday night as the seventh-ranked Red Raiders pulled away late to down No. 23 Oklahoma, 88-78, in a Big 12 game at Lubbock.

Alone in first place in the conference, the Red Raiders (22-4, 10-3) held OU freshman Trae Young to 19 points in running their winning streak to seven.

Texas Tech hasn’t won 22 games in a season since 2004-05, when the Bob Knight-coached Red Raiders finished 22-11.

Young entered the ESPN national-television game leading the nation in scoring (29.5) and assists (9.4).

In a strategy that proved effective, Tech employed traps with taller perimeter players in holding Young to 4 of 16 shooting.

Guarded alternately by Jarrett Culver, Zhaire Smith and Niem Stevenson, all of them with at least a three-inch height advantage, the Red Raiders hounded the 6-2 Young into an 0-for-9 night from 3-point range.

It was a eventful homecoming for Young, a Lubbock native whose father played for the Red Raiders.

Not only was the Tech defense all over him, so were the fans who booed and chanted.

“I get that everywhere I go,” Young told newsok.com. “Just because I’m back here in Lubbock, I didn’t think I was going to get a welcome-home type of feel.

“I wasn’t expecting anything different tonight.”

In the beginning, Oklahoma jumped out to an early five-point lead and hung on to lead by one at the half.

The Sooners (16-9, 6-7) continued to play well as a team and mustered a 64-63 lead with 8:51 remaining.

But the Red Raiders were too tough down the stretch.

After Evans drove for a dunk to give Tech an 81-74 lead, OU never got any closer.

Young even dribbled off his foot for a turnover on one possession.

Evans, a senior from Richardson, hit 9 of 15 shots from the field. He also tied a season high with 4 three-point buckets on 7 attempts.

Three other Texas Tech players reached double figures in scoring, including center Norense Odiase with 14. Smith scored 13 and Stevenson had 12 off the bench.

“We’re defending. We’re locking people down,” Odiase told lubbockonline.com. “We’re really harping on defense. … We’re tightening it up together in these last six to seven games. We’ve been playing on that end.”