Shocker: UTSA rallies behind Ivy-Curry, Carter to win at SMU

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA beat Tulsa in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 33 points to lift the UTSA Roadrunners past the SMU Mustangs Saturday in Dallas. Ivy-Curry, shown here in a file photo, hit 12 of 22 shots from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Jordan Ivy-Curry buried a 25-footer from the wing with 15 seconds left Saturday afternoon as the UTSA Roadrunners completed an improbable comeback, rallying from a 13-point deficit to down the SMU Mustangs, 77-73.

Ivy-Curry finished with 33 points for the Roadrunners, who entered the game at SMU’s Moody Coliseum in a tie for last place in the American Athletic Conference.

But after knocking off the fourth-place Mustangs, they have now won three in a row, a streak that started a week ago with a win on the road at North Texas and continued at home against Tulsa.

The victory over SMU was easily UTSA’s best of the season. The Mustangs entered the day at No. 44 nationally in the NET ratings. They were 13-2 at home and 7-0 in AAC home games.

Up until a week ago, they were still in contention for the AAC title.

PJ Carter. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

PJ Carter scored eight of his 23 points in the last seven minutes when the Roadrunners outscored the Mustangs in an 18-10 closing kick. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Nonetheless, Ivy-Curry, PJ Carter (23 points), Dre Fuller Jr. (13), Christian Tucker (nine assists) and all their friends supplied the grit to help make the upset victory a reality.

Interviewed in the postgame on the ESPN Plus livestream, Ivy-Curry thanked his teammates for staying together through tough times this season.

“Big shoutout to my teammates,” Ivy-Curry said. “We’ve been through a lot of tough battles. We was on a losing streak and we had to fight some battles, keep going to practice. You know, keeping our head level and staying (together). So I want to give a shoutout to my teammates for staying positive, no matter what the outcome was.”

In the wake of the win, the Roadrunners will get some time off before they play the regular-season finale at home against Temple on March. 10. The AAC men’s basketball tournament opens March 13 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.

For SMU (19-10, 10-6 in the American), the loss might be costly.

The Mustangs entered the day in fourth place in the 14-team AAC. With a top-four finish, teams get a double-bye into the AAC tournament, meaning they will need to win only three games in three days to win it. Teams that finish from fifth place to 10th place must play four games in four days.

With the win, UTSA (11-19, 5-12) likely needs a victory over Temple at home on March 10 and some help to avoid a bottom-four finish, which would result in a five-games in five days route to the automatic NCAA berth.

All that seems improbable. But, who would have guessed a few weeks ago, after the Roadrunners lost at last-place Temple en route to a 1-11 skid that they could ever get the team moving in a positive direction again? Ivy-Curry cited his teammates’ toughness and defensive effort for the turnaround.

Steve Henson. UTSA beat Western Illinois 78-68 in overtime in men's basketball on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners have won three in a row leading into a March 10 regular-season finale against the Temple Owls. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“We were always good offensively,” Ivy-Curry said. “But we had to step it up defensively. We’ve been switching (defensively, on screens) a lot so our bigs have stepped it up big-time. They’ve been fighting for the defensive rebounds and the offensive rebounds.

“Our toughness has been lacking, and we’ve been bringing it these last few games. That’s what it is. Our toughness is the reason we won these last few games.”

A decisive run

With 7:18 remaining in the game, the SMU faithful felt pretty good about the home team’s chances. That’s when guard Zhuric Phelps connected on a driving layup, drew a foul and sank a free throw, boosting the Mustangs into a four-point lead.

From there, UTSA played what might go down as its best stretch of the season, outscoring SMU 18-10 to the final buzzer. Carter, a 6-foot-5 junior transfer from Georgia Highlands College, scored eight points in the run.

Included in Carter’s late-game heroics were two memorable highlights.

One was a go-ahead three-pointer with 3:50 remaining. Chandler Cuthrell rebounded a miss and dished to Carter, who sank the shot to put UTSA on top, 69-68. Later, Carter topped even that one. Just as SMU’s Tyreek Smith scored with 2:25 left, pulling the Mustangs to within one, Carter drilled another long ball with a hand in his face for a four-point spread.

Trailing 74-70, SMU wouldn’t give in. The Mustangs came down and worked the ball inside. They missed twice from close range, the second one ending in a loose ball that appeared to be kicked across the floor. The ball found its way to Phelps, who rose up and drained another three. It was a shot that reduced UTSA’s lead to one with 92 seconds left.

Christian Tucker. North Texas beat UTSA 59-48 on Thursday, March 3, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Junior guard Christian Tucker passed for nine assists against SMU after notching a conference record-tying 14 last week against Tulsa. – File photo by Joe Alexander

From there, UTSA and SMU traded misses. After SMU’s misfire, the Roadrunners rebounded and called time out with 34 seconds left. Inbounding and working the ball around, the Roadrunners got it to Ivy-Curry, who launched from the right wing. It swished for the final three points of the game. After SMU called time with seven seconds remaining, the arena fell quiet.

A few moments later, it was all over after SMU’s Ricardo Wright missed and Fuller secured the final rebound.

“That feels great man,” Carter told the UTSA radio broadcast. “A thriller, for sure.”

For the game, both Ivy-Curry and Carter played with eye-opening efficiency against one of the conference’s best defensive teams. Ivy-Curry hit 12 of 22 from the field. Carter made eight of 15. They both made five three-point shots apiece.

“Our coaches preach to us — get shots up,” he said. “(They tell us) we’ve got to compete on the offensive end … My teammates believe in me. They make it real easy for me to get shots (and that) puts confidence in me.”

For UTSA, the team’s two most recent trips to the Dallas area have been fruitful.

Last week, the Roadrunners played in Denton and beat North Texas, 64-62, winning in the Super Pit for the first time since 2015. On Saturday, they knocked off a 19-win team that still hopes to play for a championship at the AAC tournament.

“Last two weekends have been pretty good,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Our guys have showed a lot of toughness in both games.”


Reversing course from a dismal start, the UTSA Roadrunners battled from behind and made a statement against the SMU Mustangs. The Mustangs withstood the charge and emerged with a 36-34 lead at halftime.

In the beginning, the Mustangs dominated. Employing a physical style, they methodically buried the Roadrunners, surging into a 21-8 lead with a little less than 10 minutes remaining.

UTSA, at times, had trouble getting off a shot against the home team. The Roadrunners mixed turnovers with three-of-13 shooting from the field and found themselves in a rather large hole.

Then, all of a sudden, they flipped the narrative. With Dre Fuller Jr., PJ Carter and Ivy-Curry leading the way, they stunned the Mustangs with a 14-0 run.


UTSA 11-19, 5-12
SMU 19-10, 10-6

Coming up

Temple at UTSA, Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m.
AAC men’s postseason tournament, March 13-16, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth

-Video courtesy of UTSA athletics

SMU women rally from eight down to blow out UTSA, 75-58

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With SMU leading by only three points at intermission, point guard Tiara Young directed most of the traffic on offense and scored a few buckets down the stretch, as well, leading the Mustangs to a 75-58 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Young scored six points and passed for four second-half assists as SMU (10-10 overall, and 4-5 in the American Athletic Conference) won at home, turning back a young and error-prone UTSA squad. For the game, Young finished with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Pushing out to an eight-point lead in the first quarter, the Roadrunners (10-9, 4-4) couldn’t sustain it later as they hit only 8 of 29 shots from the field in the second half. They also committed 15 turnovers after intermission in losing their second straight in the American after four wins in a row.

It was the second game in a row that UTSA’s youth may have been a factor in allowing a first-half lead to slip away on the road. The Roadrunners also had an early lead in Birmingham last weekend, only to give it up at the end in a 54-53 loss.

SMU entered the game on a high note, having played well last weekend in a close loss at home to kept the East Carolina Pirates and then defeating the Temple Owls. They played with confidence against UTSA, getting several players involved offensively.

Reagan Bradley was 7 of 13 from the field and Chantae Embry 6 of 14 for the Mustangs, and they each scored 18 points. Center Amirah Abdur-Rahim also had a big day, producing a double double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

For UTSA, guard Kyra White had nine points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Sidney Love, Idara Udo and Elyssa Coleman scored 11 points apiece.

First half

Trailing by eight points late in the first quarter, the SMU Mustangs rallied behind Reagan Bradley for a 40-37 lead on the Roadrunners going into intermission.

Bradley, a fifth-year SMU senior from Little Rock, knocked down four of five shots from the field and scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the second period.

The Roadrunners played well from the outset, surging behind guard Kyra White into a 15-7 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, they kept up the pressure, pushing out again to a seven-point advantage. A three from the corner by freshman Emma Lucio made it 30-23.

From there, the Mustangs responded with an 8-0 run to get back into it. In the second quarter, SMU hit 11 of 16 from the field and 5 of 7 from three.


UTSA 10-9, 4-4
SMU 10-10, 4-5

Coming up

North Texas at UTSA, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.