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.

Southern Miss routs UTSA, 81-48, in regular-season finale

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles knocked down 16 three pointers Saturday and blew out the UTSA Roadrunners 81-48 in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Playing at home in Reed Green Coliseum at Hattiesburg, Southern Miss held UTSA to 28.8 percent shooting in handing the Roadrunners their worst loss of the season.

Next stop for the Roadrunners is the Conference USA tournament in Frisco.

As the No. 4 seed, UTSA will get a first-round bye and will open play next Thursday at 6:30 p.m at The Ford Center.

Conference USA
Group 1 standings

Old Dominion 13-5, 23-8
Western Kentucky 11-7, 18-13
Southern Miss 11-7, 19-11
UTSA 11-7, 17-14
UAB 10-8, 18-13

Saturday’s scores

Southern Miss 81, UTSA 48
UAB 64, Old Dominion 50

Notable

Southern Miss held UTSA’s high-scoring duo of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace to a combined 12 points. Wallace scored seven points and Jackson five. The Eagles limited Wallace to 2 of 14 shooting and Jackson to 2 of 15.

Quotable

“Keaton and Jhivvan’s shots were straight-on. Most of ’em straight on, and short. Some of ’em good shots. Some of ’em not. They totally distort what we’re trying to do offensively every time. (Southern Miss coach) Doc (Sadler) does a great job with their switching. Switching and double teaming. You got to be able to find the open guy. They make you make plays.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

UTSA to host Old Dominion on Feb. 28 in bonus play

The UTSA Roadrunners will get an 11-day break before opening Conference USA bonus play on Feb. 28 at home against Old Dominion, according to the C-USA schedule.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m., with the game telecast on the CBS Sports Network.

UTSA, playing in Group 1 of the C-USA’s new scheduling format, also will host the UAB Blazers before going on the road to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

UTSA schedule

Feb. 28 — (1) Old Dominion at (4) UTSA, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

March 3 — (5) UAB at (4) UTSA, 3 p.m., CUSA TV

March 6 — (4) UTSA at (2) Western Kentucky, 6:30 p.m., beIN SPORTS

March 9 — (4) UTSA at (3) Southern Miss, 5 p.m., CUSA TV

C-USA Group 1

1) Old Dominion 11-3, 21-6

2) Western Kentucky 9-5, 16-11

3) Southern Miss 9-5, 17-9

4) UTSA 9-5, 15-12

5) UAB 8-6, 16-11

Notable

The Group 1 standings leader after bonus play is the C-USA regular-season champion. The top four teams after bonus play receive byes through the first round of the conference tournament.

UTSA versus the elite

Here is a recap of UTSA’s regular-season games against each of its four opponents in bonus play:

x-UAB 83, UTSA 73, at Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 19 – The Blazers took charge with 16-3 run to close the first half, followed by a 15-0 streak to open the second half

x-UTSA 74, Old Dominion 73, at San Antonio, Jan. 26 – The Roadrunners rocked the Bird Cage with a 25-6 run in the final 4:43 to erase an 18-point deficit.

x-Western Kentucky 96, UTSA 88, overtime, at Bowling Green Ky., Jan. 31 – Hilltoppers won in spite of 46 points from UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson.

x-Southern Miss 78, UTSA 71, at Hattiesburg, Miss., Feb. 14 – Cortez Edwards, Tyree Griffin and Leoard Harper-Baker combined for 56 points, leading the Golden Eagles on a comeback from an early 23-10 deficit.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles hold off UTSA, 78-71

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Thursday night boosted their chances for a top-five finish in Conference USA with a 78-71 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Trailing by 13 points early in the game at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the Golden Eagles rallied behind guards Cortez Edwards and Tyree Griffin and forward Leonard Harper-Baker for their fifth straight win.

In the second half, Southern Miss built a 17-point lead, only to have UTSA cut it to three in the final minutes.

But, in response, Harper-Baker and Edwards scored on field goals inside of two minutes, and then Griffin hit both ends of a one-and-one with 42 seconds left for the key plays down the stretch.

Edwards led Southern Miss with 24 points on 11 of 17 shooting. He also had 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Even though Keaton Wallace scored 27 and Jhivvan Jackson 25 for the Roadrunners, the Golden Eagles made them earn it, holding the tandem to a combined 15 of 41 from the field.

Jackson entered the game as the C-USA’s leading scorer and Wallace was third. It didn’t matter in the end, as UTSA remained winless in Hattiesburg at 0-6, including 0-3 under third-year coach Steve Henson.

UTSA will complete a two-game road trip Saturday at Louisiana Tech.

Records

UTSA 15-11, 9-4
Southern Miss 16-9, 8-5

Title chase

Old Dominion 10-3, Western Kentucky 9-4, UTSA 9-4, North Texas 8-5, Southern Miss 8–5.

Notable

Trailing 23-10 early, Southern Miss went on an extended run. The Golden Eagles finished the first half, 22-8, to take a one-point intermission lead. They kept applying the pressure after the break, riding a 29-13 streak to a 61-44 lead. Griffin, a 5-10 senior from New Orleans, scored 11 in the stretch.

Quotable

‘We got off to a good start, really were guarding ’em in the halfcourt … First half was about turnovers. Every time we made a turnover, they scored. They didn’t have anything going in the halfcourt. In the second half, they scored trip after trip after trip. Built the lead. Just whooped us,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast.

Added Henson: “They beat our man. They beat our 3-2. They beat our 2-3. We didn’t have any other defenses to go to. Finally responded a little bit. Cut into the lead. Took better care of the ball in the second half. Big thing was, turnovers in the first half and them whoopin’ us and kinda punkin’ us there in the second half.”

Coming up

After Saturday’s games, the conference will divide teams into three groups and start bonus play. Teams will play four games within their groups to complete the regular season. Details on the groupings and the schedule will be announced Saturday night. Old Dominion, Western Kentucky and UTSA are solidified in the top group.

UTSA-Charlotte elimination game set for Saturday morning

Officials announced Friday night that an elimination game between UTSA and Charlotte at the Conference USA tournament has been postponed because of weather concerns and will be played at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Southern Miss defeated UTSA 5-3 earlier in the day, sending the Roadrunners into the losers’ bracket.

UTSA is 1-1 in the tournament after beating Charlotte 11-1 on Thursday and then losing to Southern Miss, the top seed.

After losing to UTSA, Charlotte defeated UAB 2-0 in a game that started late Thursday night and finished early Friday mornning.

The tournament is being held at MGM Park in Biloxi, Miss.

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles choked off a ninth-inning UTSA rally Friday and downed the Roadrunners 5-3 in a winners’ bracket game at the Conference USA tournament.

With the loss, UTSA was sent tumbling into the losers’ bracket, where they will face the Charlotte 49ers tonight. Estimated game time is 9 p.m. The tournament is being played in Biloxi, Miss.

Slugging Matt Wallner hurt the Roadrunners with a home run and a single and two RBI. Hunter Slater also contributed three of the Golden Eagles’ 12 hits.

Tony Beam ripped a two-run homer for UTSA. But Southern Miss pitching held UTSA in check most of the day, allowing eight hits.

Lefthander Stevie Powers (5-1) earned the victory with seven innings of work. He left the game leading 4-2. Trent Driver pitched the last two inninngs for the save.

The Roadrunners made it interesting by scoring a run off Driver in the bottom of the eighth to pull within 4-3. The Golden Eagles retaliated in the top of the ninth with a run to account for the final margin.

In the bottom half, UTSA put two runners on base, only to ground into a game-inning double play. Southern Miss third baseman Luke Reynolds fielded a ground ball, tagged a base runner, executed a spin move and threw to first for the final out.

Starting pitcher Steven Dressler (5-4) worked five innings and took the loss for the Roadrunners.


Southern Miss third baseman Luke Reynolds, the C-USA Player of the Year, executes a sensational game-ending double play.

Records

UTSA 32-22
Southern Miss 41-15

Notebook

UTSA stroked 18 hits in defeating Charlotte 11-1 to open the tournament on Thursday. The bats weren’t quite as hot against Southern Miss.

Golden Eagles pitching limited the Roadrunners to eight hits.

UTSA senior and team RBI leader Ben Brookover hasn’t played in either game. No word yet on the reason for his absence.


UTSA second baseman Aldo Buendia, a former standout at Laredo Alexander, robs Matt Wallner of a hit with a leaping catch in the eighth inning. At the plate, Buendia is 3 for 8 in two games in the tournament. He is 6 for 16, hitting safely in his last four games overall.

UTSA beats Southern Mississippi for its 16th victory

Nearly two years have passed since the UTSA men’s basketball program bottomed out with a 5-27 record.

Nick Allen was a part of that squad, and so he takes great pride in knowing that he has figured prominently in re-making a culture that prides itself on winning.

Allen produced a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night, and UTSA won its 16th game with a 64-56, grind-it-out victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at the Convocation Center.

The 6-8 junior from Arizona was beaming when a reporter asked about the atmosphere in the locker room.

“I think we’ve won six out of the last seven, so that’s huge,” Allen said. “The locker room culture has definitely changed. I was part of the team that didn’t do too hot two years ago.

“And, it’s crazy how much the culture’s changed. We want to win. It’s a lot (more fun). Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be here. So, it’s definitely nice.”

With the victory, UTSA improved to 16-12 overall and 9-6 in Conference USA. Southern Miss fell to 13-16 and 6-10.

The Roadrunners remain on pace for their best record since the basketball program transitioned out of the Southland Conference six years ago.

UTSA finished 18-14 and 10-6 in conference in 2011-12, its last year in the SLC.

The nine conference victories are the most for any UTSA team in the past five years, since it played one year in the Western Athletic Conference and the past four in the C-USA.

With three games left in the regular season, plus the C-USA tournament, the possibility of reaching 19 or even 20 victories in coach Steve Henson’s second year as coach seems to be a distinct possibility.

“We’re proud of our guys,” said Henson, who finished 14-19 last year. “(But) we’re not talking about a win total right now. We’re talking about what we’re still playing for.

“The results tonight put us back in the hunt for that No. 4 seed, which is huge in the conference tournament.”

After losing 84-79 to Old Dominion, fourth-place Marshall (19-9, 10-5) now leads fifth-place UTSA by only a game.

A tie for fourth would go to UTSA since it beat Marshall 81-77 in San Antonio on Feb. 1.

The top four seeds gain a bye through the first round in the 12-team C-USA tournament.

UTSA’s defense forces a Southern Miss turnover, leading to a layup on the other end, during a key sequence in the second half.

After leading by 22 early, UTSA ducked into the dressing room at intermission with only a 37-28 advantage.

Southern Miss played well in final eight minutes, out-scoring the home team, 19-6.

Guard Tyree Griffin led the charge with seven points. Guard Domini Magee also produced a key sequence with a layup, a steal and another layup.

At one point, the Roadrunners held a 31-9 advantage when forward Deon Lyle nailed a three with 8:19 remaining.


Nick Allen scores on a fast break layup on an assist from Keaton Wallace early in the first half.

Stat leaders

UTSA: Nick Allen (18 points on 8 of 13 shooting, 11 rebounds); Deon Lyle (14 points, including four 3-pointers); Jhivvan Jackson (10 points, seven rebounds); Keaton Wallace (10 points, four assists).

Southern Miss: Tyree Griffin (17 points, two 3-pointers, four assists); Cortez Edwards (12 points, seven rebounds). 2 of UTSA’s first 14 points.

Coming up

Saturday: Louisiana Tech at UTSA, 7 p.m., Southern Miss at UTEP.

Tournament time

March 7-10: C-USA tournament at Frisco.