Prairie View A&M strikes early, holds on late, to down UTSA

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

Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points for UTSA against Prairie View A&M. It was Jackson’s second 30-point game in a row and his third of the season. — Photo, Joe Alexander

The Prairie View A&M Panthers on Saturday night raced off on a 19-0 streak early in the game and made it stand up late for a 79-72 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Senior guard Gerard Andrus led the Panthers with 20 points and 10 rebounds to hand UTSA its sixth loss in seven games this season, and its first at home.

After Keaton Wallace scored on a drive to pull the Roadrunners to within three with 29 seconds remaining, Andrus hit four straight free throws to help the Panthers put it out of reach.

Records

Prairie View 3-5
UTSA 1-6

‘A favorable match up’

Prairie View coach Byron Smith said his team brought momentum into the game after beating Central Arkansas in a neutral-site game in its last outing.

The Panthers knocked off the Bears 78-72 in overtime Saturday at Riverside, Calif., in the 2K Empire Classic.

“I think it just kind of pumped us up and we came out and got after it (tonight),” Smith said. “Obviously (UTSA is) a quality team. We felt like it was a favorable match up. UTSA is a good program and they’re going to be a really good team. They’re struggling a little bit.

“We thought our chances were good tonight, and we just got after them. We were ready to play from the opening tap.”

UTSA was hopeful that it had turned the corner after winning its last game, a 90-78 victory last Friday at home against NAIA Wiley College.

Prairie View had other ideas, shooting better than 50 percent from the field in both halves and finishing 30 of 54 for 55.6 percent.

On the other hand, UTSA couldn’t find the basket early against a Prairie View match up zone, allowing the Panthers to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 21-4 lead.

The Roadrunners misfired on eight straight shots during the Panthers’ run, including six 3-point attempts.

Frustration for UTSA

The Panthers, surprisingly, led for the rest of the game in front of an announced 888 fans at the Convocation Center.

“Frustrating,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Just haven’t put together any stretch of days all season where we felt real, real good about things. We were hoping we were taking some little steps this week …

“Hoped we had made enough progress to find a way to win this game. We didn’t.”

A team effort

Several Panthers played well, including Andrus, Darius Williams (15 points) and Lanell Henry (14).

Combined, the threesome hit 19 of 32 from the field.

But it was Andrus who put away the Roadrunners at the end with his free-throw shooting.

Asked if he liked Andrus at the line in tight situations, Smith laughed and said, “I like him anywhere. In an alley fight, he’s your guy. He’s going to step up. He’s going to make plays. He’s got a lot of toughness. He’s overcome a lot. He’s a great kid.”

Jackson scores 30

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points on 11 of 26 from the field. He was 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts.

As a team, the Roadrunners 26 of 67 for 38.8 percent. From three, the Roadrunners struggled again, hitting only 7 of 30 for 23.3 percent.

The Roadrunners have struggled from three all season, making only 28.2 percent.

Wallace shot 4 of 14 from the floor and 0 of 8 from three.

Bynum’s return

In his return to the Convocation Center, former UTSA guard Tamir Bynum scored seven points off the bench for Prairie View.

He hit all three of his shots from the field, including a driving layup with 14:06 remaining that capped a 7-0 run. Prior to the run, the Roadrunners had pulled to within one and were threatening.

Last fall, the former Houston-area high school standout played in nine games for the Roadrunners before transferring to Prairie View at the semester break. He averaged 1.9 points at UTSA.

Bynum has played in eight games for the Panthers this fall, averaging 4.9 points and 1.3 assists.

“Normally you’ve got to sit (out) a year but his mother had been ill, so he got a waiver and he was able to play immediately,” Smith said.

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

As many as seven teams from Texas could land NCAA bids

The 11th-ranked University of Houston Cougars and the UT Arlington Mavericks on Sunday will try to join two other programs in the state of Texas as automatic qualifiers in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Prairie View A&M and Abilene Christian qualified Saturday with victories in their respective conference tournament finals.

For Prairie View, it will be the school’s first NCAA appearance in 21 years. Abilene Christian has never made the Division I national tournament.

When the bracket is revealed later today, three Texas-based Big 12 squads likely will make the field.

Texas Tech and Baylor are considered locks, while TCU is probably in, as well, according to bracket projection analysts.

UT Arlington, under first-year coach Chris Ogden, plays Georgia State today in New Orleans for the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic bid.

The Mavericks will not make the NCAA field unless they win, meaning that they have much more riding on their game today than the Cougars.

The Cougars, regular-season champions in the American Athletic Conference, are expected to make the Big Dance as an at-large entry even if they lose today.

Houston is playing in Memphis against 24th-ranked Cincinnati.

Saturday’s highlights

Prairie View rallied from a 13-point, first-half deficit to stun the Texas Southern Tigers, 92-86, in the Southwestern Athletic Conference title game at Birmingham, Ala. Both the Panthers and Tigers shot 55 percent in the second half. Guard Gary Blackston had 17 points and six steals for Prairie View. The Panthers secured the school’s second NCAA bid and its first since 1998.

Abilene Christian routed New Orleans 77-60 at Katy for the Southland Conference crown behind Jaren Lewis, who had 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. The Wildcats moved from NCAA Division II to Division I six years ago. Under terms of the transition, they were ineligible to play in the SLC tournament for the first four years.

Conference USA

Regular-season champion Old Dominion earned the NCAA automatic bid with a 62-56 victory over former San Antonio prep standout Charles Bassey and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.