By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
For the UTSA Roadrunners, the challenges are clear — travel up the road to San Marcos and try to win on the home floor of a regional rival. It won’t be easy. A game against the Texas State Bobcats is always hotly-contested.
Oh, and, a couple of other things on UTSA’s to-do list come to mind — No. 1, try to box out and get some rebounds and, No. 2, don’t let a modest losing streak grow from two to three.
UTSA at Texas State
At a glance: The Roadrunners (1-2) and the Bobcats (1-2) will play Friday at 7:15 p.m. in San Marcos at Strahan Coliseum.
UTSA: After a season-opening, 78-68 overtime victory at home against Western Illinois, the Roadrunners have dropped the first two games of a four-game road trip. First, they were blown out 102-76 at Minnesota. In Beaumont earlier this week, they were beaten, 92-80, by the Lamar Cardinals. Though it’s early in the season, a few trends have developed. Obviously, points against UTSA on the road is a problem. But also, they have been out-rebounded in all three games and have been beaten on the offensive glass in two of the three, against both Western Illinois and Lamar. Employing hustle and quickness, Lamar turned 25 offensive rebounds into enough extra possessions to win. Another area of concern for UTSA is three-point shooting. The Roadrunners are allowing opponents to shoot 36 percent (31 for 86) from deep. On the other end, they’re hitting 30.7 percent (23 of 75) from distance. One historical note favorable to the Roadrunners? UTSA coach Steve Henson is 4-1 in his career against Texas State.
Texas State: In their home opener, the Bobcats are looking to bounce back from a lopsided loss to Oklahoma and hang a loss on UTSA, its chief, non-conference regional rival. UTSA leads the series 37-25 and has won four of the last five. The last win for Texas State in the series was a 69-68 victory on Dec. 1, 2018 in San Antonio. When hosting the Roadrunners, the Bobcats are 12-17 in the series. Their last win at home against the Roadrunners was Dec. 2, 2015. In that contest, they romped, 76-53. This season, the Bobcats opened with a three-game road trip, losing by five at Little Rock, winning by 10 at Miami, Ohio, and then losing by 39 at Oklahoma on Tuesday night. Six-foot-five forward Tyrel Morgan (14.0, 8.0 rebounds) leads Texas State. Morgan did not play in the 93-54 loss at OU. Other threats include Brandon Love (10.7 points) and freshman guard Kaden Gumbs (10.0).
UTSA has won two straight and four of five in the series against Texas State. During that stretch, in December of 2018, the Bobcats won a thriller at the UTSA Convocation Center. Roadrunners star Jhivvan Jackson scored 22 for the Roadrunners. But the Bobcats countered with guard Jaylen Shead, who had seven points, eight rebounds and eight assists and scored the winning point on a free throw with less than a second remaining.