UTEP uses second-half surge to run away from UTSA, 69-51

The UTSA Roadrunners will return to soul-searching mode next week after a poor performance in El Paso Saturday night. After the UTEP Miners recorded a 69-51 victory, the Roadrunners were left to ponder what to do about an 0-8 record on the road this season.

“Again, if we play the way we played tonight, we’re not going to beat anybody anywhere,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said in a zoom call. “We would have lost at home. We would have lost in the park. We would have lost in the Alamodome. It wouldn’t have mattered, if we played the way we did tonight.”

In one way, it could be argued that the Miners may have just had an edge in attitude and motivation, especially at the end of the game.

Setting the stage for what happened, UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 on Thursday night in San Antonio on the front end of a two-game set in Conference USA. In the first meeting, Roadrunners guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 32 points and Keaton Wallace had 19, to go along with nine assists and eight rebounds. The UTSA offense hummed with precision during long stretches.

In the rematch, the Miners didn’t play all that great, but they held Jackson to a season-low seven points, and they also strung together enough plays on both ends to win in crunch time. With the game tied 44-all, the Miners outscored the Roadrunners 25-7 in the last 11 minutes to account for the final margin.

During that stretch, they held UTSA without a field goal for the final 8:17, and they also made their last seven shots from the field. The outcome underscored once again the Roadrunners’ problems on the road, where they have lost 11 straight dating back to February of last season.

“I don’t think it’s a mental block,” Henson said. “I mean, we’re not ignoring it. But, we got to play better. Shoot. We got to play better. I mean, this is a pretty good team. We can’t come in here and play as badly as we did and shoot whatever we shot (29.5 percent) and expect to win. You got to make plays.

“We continue to talk about competing offensively. We’re a pretty good offensive team when we get a few shots down early, and when it’s easy, when the momentum goes the right way. But, boy, when it gets a little tough, we have trouble understanding how to get the right kind of shots, and on the road, you have to get better shots. You have to take care of the ball.

“We’ll address some things early in the week and expect to play better next game on the road.”

Records

UTEP 8-8, 4-6
UTSA 8-9, 4-6

Coming up

UTSA at Florida International, Friday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.
UTSA at Florida International, Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m.

Individually

UTEP — Souley Boum, 20 points on 7 of 17 shooting. Jamal Bieniemy, 16 points and 10 rebounds. Keonte Kennedy, 10 points and 14 rebounds. Bryson Williams, 7 points and 9 rebounds.

UTSA — Keaton Wallace, 15 points on 5 of 16 shooting. Jacob Germany, 11 points on 4 of 9. Jhivvan Jackson, 7 points on 3 of 10 shooting.

By the numbers

UTSA’s last win on the road came on Feb. 6, 2020, in an 85-81 victory over Old Dominion … Against UTEP, UTSA’s offense hit only 18 of 61 from the field, including 8 of 29 in the second half. The Roadrunners missed their last nine shot attempts in the game … Jackson hit the first shot of the game, a nice runner from 12 feet in the lane, and then he started to struggle. In the next few possessions, the Roadrunners’ all-conference guard missed two long three-point attempts. UTSA was up 8-2 on the scoreboard when he fouled a jump shooter. Then he committed his second foul a little more than six minutes into the game and had to come out. Jackson played only 12 minutes in the first half and scored four points. He finished with seven points, only his second game this season with less than 10.

Jackson, Wallace key UTSA’s third straight victory

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Keaton Wallace enjoyed one of his best games of the season with 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Meanwhile, UTSA scored an important C-USA victory over the UTEP Miners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Very few teams in NCAA Division I basketball have backcourts as explosive as UTSA’s duo of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

The two seniors were at their entertaining best Thursday night in the Convocation Center.

Jackson scored a season-high 32 points and Wallace contributed 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the resurgent Roadrunners won their third straight game, taking down the UTEP Miners, 86-79.

Jackson befuddled the Miners with a mix of long-distance shooting artistry and mid-range finesse, hitting 10 of 20 from the field. The senior from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, nailed four three-point shots.

For his part, Wallace sank 7 of 12 in a tour de force that included grit and defensive hustle from the 6-foot-3 Dallas native.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored 32 for the Roadrunners. The senior guard is averaging 25.1 points in his last seven games. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Led by Souley Boum and Bryson Williams, the Miners surged into a two-point lead early in the second half. But the Roadrunners held the Miners as a team to three of 16 shooting in a 10-minute stretch of the second half.

Both Boum and Williams finished with 24 points. Williams, a 6-foot-8 post, was held to five of 11 shooting from the field.

Records

UTSA 8-8, 4-5
UTEP 7-8, 3-6

Coming up

UTSA at UTEP, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Starting slowly

After some erratic performances in the pre-conference phase of the schedule, including a 39-point loss at Oklahoma, the Roadrunners started C-USA play by losing two games at Rice, splitting two at home against North Texas and then dropping two on the road at Louisiana Tech. After the 1-5 start in conference, UTSA has now won three straight, all at home, against Southern Miss (twice) and now UTEP to get back into contention for postseason play.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting in his first collegiate start. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Making the adjustments

The Roadrunners started the homestand with a change in the starting lineup, moving junior Adrian Rodriguez into the first five. They made another move Thursday by starting freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry. With a starting five of Jackson, Wallace, Ivy-Curry, Rodriguez and Jacob Germany, the Roadrunners singed the Miners with 56.7 percent shooting en route to a 46-38 lead.

Quotable

Keaton Wallace, on the slow start to the season — “I (felt) like it was never over. Even in the past, we always start off kind of slow. Then we start figuring some things out. Then guys start meshing together on the court … Then we get rolling. That’s pretty much how it’s been ever since I got here.”

Playing good ‘D’

In the three victories, UTSA has played solid defense in extended stretches to take charge. The Roadrunners did it again Thursday night. For a stretch of more than 10 minutes in the second half, they mixed up defenses, alternating from man to zone, and held UTEP to 3 of 16 shooting. Defensive highlights down the stretch included Rodriguez taking a charge from Williams in the post and the 6-foot-11 Germany extending to block a three-point shot by Boum in the corner. After the block, Germany batted the ball off Boum’s head. It went out of bounds, with the possession awarded to UTSA.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Jacob Germany produced eight points, four rebounds and a block. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Quotable

Keaton Wallace, on the key stops — “Those are the detail plays that we’re making now. You know, we weren’t making those plays early in the season. Just paying attention to little details like that. Knowing when to rotate. Playing the ball. Jumping to the ball, things like that. We’re always in the right spots on defense. Jacob getting the block in the corner. That’s just (game and practice) reps. He understands where he needs to be when the ball is in the corner. And A-Rod, the big (man) was driving … You knew that charge was going to be big for us. He got down there and took it.”

Notable

The Roadrunners will try to win their first road game of the season Saturday at UTEP. They’re 0-7 on the road overall, including 0-4 in C-USA road games. The status of injured forward Eric Parrish (Achilles) is uncertain after he sat out his first game of the season. If anything, the play of Jackson and Wallace gives them hope that they can start winning away from home. Combined, the two probably played as well in tandem as they have all season.

Quotable

Coach Steve Henson, on Jackson and Wallace — “They stepped up on the offensive end and delivered in a big, big way.”


.

Cooking up success: Germany anchors the paint for UTSA

UTSA center Jacob Germany throws down a dunk with 2:18 left to give UTSA a 69-65 lead in a 77-69 victory over North Texas on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Jacob Germany is averaging 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Roadrunners, who host the UTEP Miners tonight. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After the UTSA Roadrunners defeated the North Texas Mean Green a few weeks ago, Jacob Germany’s father was on hand to help the team celebrate.

Justin Germany, a chef by trade, cooked up a feast for the squad.

“We had shrimp fettuccine, chicken alfredo, a bunch of barbeque,” Jacob said. “It was amazing. That’s one thing I do miss back home, is that cooking.”

Germany, a sophomore center from Kingston, Okla., related the story in a zoom call with reporters on Tuesday as the team prepared for a couple of games this week against the UTEP Miners.

Asked if he had been able to pick up any of his dad’s culinary skills, Germany grinned and admitted that he had not.

“No,” he said, “I’m more the eater. He cooks it up and I eat it. I never took the time to learn a lot of it.”

If Germany gets by in the kitchen with only the basics to get him through college, nobody on the team is complaining, because he’s started to carry the squad in a lot of other ways.

Scoring around the basket. Knocking down 12-foot jumpers. Rebounding. Blocking shots. Germany, at 6-11 and 230 pounds, has started to show off multiple skills.

“His instincts are so good (with) his poise, his agility,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the eve of tonight’s home game against the Miners. “He’s got tremendous upside. You can see it right before your eyes, his development. It’s pretty fun to watch.”

Last weekend, he anchored the middle as the Roadrunners beat the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on back-to-back nights. In the two games combined, he produced 24 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks.

His two blocks in the final minute helped UTSA seal a 78-72 victory on Saturday afternoon.

Clearly, Germany has started to feel it as a college athlete. After offseason weight-room workouts, he earned a reputation as the second-strongest player on the team next to Phoenix Ford. He’s also among the fastest players on the team.

Germany said the added bulk helps him maneuver around the basket “without giving up too much position” with opposing players.

Last year, he admitted he struggled to live up to the expectations of being a highly-regarded recruit. If he played inconsistently or had a bad game, Germany said he would get down on himself.

A year later, Germany said he learned to channel his energies in a more positive way.

“I think my mentality has definitely changed,” he said. “Rather than getting angry at myself, I use it to play harder and play faster and stronger. I think I’ve really been able to use that aggression for good to help us win games.”

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UTEP, 8 p.m.

Records

UTEP 7-7, 3-5
UTSA 7-8, 3-5

UTSA’s Rodriguez relishes opportunity to contribute

Adrian Rodriguez. UTSA beat Southern Miss 70-64 in Conference USA action at the Convocation Center on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA junior Adrian Rodriguez battles for possession as the Roadrunners defeat the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in Game 1 of a C-USA series last week. — Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez started for the first time this season last Friday night against Southern Miss. The Roadrunners enjoyed a productive opening 20 minutes and forged a five-point lead at intermission. They ended up winning the game by six.

Same thing happened on Saturday afternoon, basically. Rodriguez started. UTSA moved out to a six-point edge at the half, and the Roadrunners beat the Golden Eagles, once again, by six.

As a result, UTSA is riding a two-game winning streak while preparing for a couple of Conference USA games later this week against the UTEP Miners.

Even though Rodriguez went scoreless with three rebounds in 36 minutes combined in the two recent victories, it doesn’t bother him at all, and that may explain why he has been so effective. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound junior from Tulsa takes his role as a defender and screen-setter and, at times, as a communicator, very seriously.

“I put myself in a mental state that whatever my position (on the team) is, I’m going to come out and give it my all — give my all to my teammates, especially, and do whatever I can to help my team win,” he said. “I’ve been pretty pleased. Whenever I’m out there, I do my job. I get people open, which is my biggest strength, you know, setting great screens, and just getting everybody to talk, getting the energy up, whether that’s in the game or on the bench.”

Rodriguez missed time earlier in the season, sitting out five games, with a back injury.

“It still gives (me) a little bit of problems, but nothing I can’t handle,” he said. “Just got to keep moving forward. Get a little treatment and just push through. You know, this time is limited. You got to make the most of it.”

The Roadrunners will need him to push through whatever discomfort he may be feeling this week against the Miners. He’ll likely be matched up at times against UTEP standout Bryson Williams, who scored 55 points combined in two games against the Roadrunners last season.

“He’s a great player,” Rodriguez said. “You know, amazing touch around the rim. Great athleticism. One of the things we’ve talked about is to be physical with him. You know, try to get him to catch it outside of the spots he’s comfortable in.

“Maybe make him take one more crab dribble, to give the defense a little more time to react. Just switching guys on him. Different coverages. You know, I’m not going to guard him the same way Phoenix (Ford), Ced (Cedrick Alley, Jr.) will. Just give him different looks.”

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, Thursday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UTEP, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Records

UTEP 7-7, 3-5
UTSA 7-8, 3-5

UTSA forward Luka Barisic opts out for the rest of the season

Senior forward Luka Barisic has taken the Covid-19 opt out and will not be with the UTSA Roadrunners for the remainder of the season as he attempts to complete requirements for his academic degree, Coach Steve Henson announced Tuesday afternoon.

Luka Barisic had 18 points and 10 rebounds as UTSA beat Lamar 88-66 on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Luka Barisic had his best game of the season on Dec. 22 when he produced 18 points and 10 rebounds against Lamar. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We certainly wish him well. He was a big part of what we were doing. But we certainly understand where he was coming from and wish him nothing but the best,” Henson said.

Barisic, a 6-foot-10 post from Osijek, in Croatia, joined the team before the 2019-20 season as a transfer from Highland (Ill.) Community College. He played in 32 games with 21 starts for the Roadrunners last year and averaged 6.6 points and 3 rebounds. This year, he played in 14 of the team’s 15 games, all off the bench. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Asked how difficult a decision it was for Barisic, Henson said he thinks “a lot of things” went into it.

“You know, it’s always hard for the kids to have those conversations,” he said. “It’s disappointing. I want every one of our student-athletes to come in here and have a great experience and leave feeling really good about things. So it’s disappointing. I’m disappointed for him. I’m not disappointed in him. I’m disappointed for him that … but I also understand.

“So much has been going on. He’s two classes away from graduating, and to be able to do that from wherever he is…He said he was going to look for a flight to get home. He hasn’t been home in a long time. So I got to think that had something to do with it, as well.”

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring, all NCAA Division I basketball players have been granted an additional year of eligibility, but Henson said he doesn’t expect Barisic to return.

“We didn’t discuss that,” the coach said. “My guess is that he’s ready to get that degree and explore things back home. He might still have the opportunity to play back home in one of the leagues there. So that would be my guess. Coming out of here … with a good degree in hand … I wouldn’t anticipate him coming back here or playing anywhere else in college. I think if he continues to play it would be at the professional level.”

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, Thursday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UTEP, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Records

UTEP 7-7, 3-5
UTSA 7-8, 3-5

Deja vu? Not quite, as UTSA rolls late to beat UTEP, 86-70

Atem Bior. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Atem Bior produced a career-high 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds as the Roadrunners improved their record in Conference USA to 3-3. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson was grinning slightly as he walked around the perimeter of a media scrum and moved into position for his post-game interview session Saturday afternoon.

Before taking a single question, he had one declaration to make.

Steve Henson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson said it felt good to make enough plays at the end to beat the UTEP Miners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Fire away,” Henson said. “A dollar for the first one that says, ‘Was that (game) just like Wednesday?’ Yes.”

True enough.

The teams were the same — the UTEP Miners against Henson’s Roadrunners. The flow of the game was also about the same, with the Miners executing a thrilling second-half rally for the second time in four days.

But, with all due respect, this one was different in an important way.

The Roadrunners won this one, even though they did fritter away most of a 23-point lead before steadying themselves at the end to nail down an 86-70 victory over the Miners.

With the decision, the Roadrunners improved to 8-1 at home and gained a measure of redemption after blowing a 24-point lead and then losing 80-77 to the Miners in overtime at El Paso.

After the game in West Texas, the Roadrunners returned to San Antonio in a funk, having squandered their second golden opportunity in two weeks to win on the road in Conference USA.

Coming home, they knew they had to make amends.

“Just glad our guys bounced back the way they did,” Henson said. “Had two good days of preparation. Weren’t real long practices, but we worked real hard on keeping our legs fresh and making a few adjustments.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman center Jacob Germany went 4 for 4 from the field, including a highlight-reel dunk. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Came out and re-established what we’d established in the first half (in El Paso).”

In the first half at El Paso, UTSA looked very good.

After that, everything unraveled, as the Miners roared from behind with separate runs of 17-0 and 8-0 en route to the biggest comeback in school history and the biggest in NCAA Division I this season.

Less than 72 hours later, both teams tipped off in San Antonio, and a season-high crowd of 1,684 fans watched curiously as deja vu started to set in.

With 61 percent shooting, the Roadrunners bolted to a 48-31 halftime lead, and then they emerged from the dressing room after intermission with equal intensity.

They continued to apply pressure on the Miners, hiking the advantage to 62-39 when Atem Bior scored on a bucket in the paint.

At that point, just as they did a few nights ago, the Roadrunners got careless with the ball, started turning it over at an alarming rate and allowed the Miners to rally.

Nevil Shed was at Saturday's UTSA vs. UTEP men's basketball game. Shed is a basketball legend in both San Antonio and El Paso.

Texas basketball legend Nevil Shed takes in Saturday’s game at the Bird Cage. He played for the 1966 NCAA champion Miners of Texas Western College (now UTEP) and later became an assistant coach and an administrator at UTSA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTEP capitalized on five turnovers, blitzing the home team with a stunning 19-2 run over the next five minutes.

All of a sudden, in a game that looked lost, the Miners had life — down by six with 7:25 remaining.

“To be honest, it felt worse tonight, than it did on Wednesday,” Henson said of the UTEP comeback. “On Wednesday, it wasn’t like we totally lost our composure.

“Tonight, it was. We were throwing that ball around, making weak plays. It was very, very similar.

“…What happened (in El Paso) was in our minds a little bit. So, yeah, the wheels came off. But, we regrouped and finished the game better.”

Aided by big plays from Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace, Luka Barisic and Makani Whiteside, the Roadrunners constructed a 17-6 run to put the game away.

A couple of Jackson free throws with 1:54 remaining capped the streak and widened the lead to 81-64.

Records

UTEP 11-8, 2-4
UTSA 9-10, 3-3

Coming up

Winless on the road in the C-USA at 0-3, UTSA plays next at North Texas (on Thursday) and at Rice (next Saturday.) Both with a tip off at 7 p.m.

By the numbers

UTEP — Bryson Williams produced 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting, 7 rebounds. He had 34 points Wednesday night. Souley Boum scored 18 points. Not counting Williams, the Miners hit only 16 of 53 shots from the field (30.1 percent). Guard Daryl Edwards, who hurt the Roadrunners in El Paso, scored only three on 1 of 10 shooting.

UTSA — It’s notable that the Roadrunners beat a good team on a day when they made only six three-point shots. Known for their long-distance artistry, they were 6 of 20 from three. They made up for it with strong play from big men Atem Bior (13 points, 7 rebounds), along with Jacob Germany and Luka Barisic (both with 9 points).

Jackson and Wallace

The highest-scoring tandem in Division I combined for 44 points. Jackson produced 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Wallace scored 21, and also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jackson was off the mark with his shooting touch (5 of 14), including a missed layup late in the game, but he sank 12 of 12 at the line. Wallace hit 8 of 18 from the field.

First-half recap

Wallace scored 16 points and Bior came up big with 11 points and five rebounds, leading the Roadrunners to a 48-31 advantage at the break. UTSA played strong defense, limiting the Miners to 35.3 percent shooting. UTSA also won the battle of the boards, 23-16. On the offensive end, the Roadrunners sizzled at 61.3 percent. UTSA hit eight of its last nine shots before intermission.

Second-half summary

After the Miners pulled to within six, Barisic stopped the run with a three-point play. Later, the Miners had it down to nine when Whiteside nailed a three from the arc to make it a 12-point game with 4:30 remaining. From there, UTSA never allowed UTEP to cut the lead under 10. Jackson made sure of it by hitting six of six at the free throw line in the last two minutes.

Roadrunners hope to even the score against the UTEP Miners

The UTSA Roadrunners will certainly know more about what to expect from forward Bryson Williams and the UTEP Miners Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Illinois State 89-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson produced 29 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday in an overtime loss at UTEP. – photo by Joe Alexander

But just because they’re more familiar with the Miners’ personnel and game plan, it doesn’t mean that the rematch will be any easier to win than their first meeting of the season.

Behind Williams, UTEP rallied at home on Wednesday night, battling back from a 24-point deficit to knock off UTSA 80-77 in overtime in the first of two Conference USA games this week between the in-state rivals.

The Roadrunners will try to even the score when the teams meet again Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“It’s going to be a grind it out game,” UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson said. “It’s not going to be easy. They’re one of the top defensive teams in the nation. They going to make us work. But we going to make them work, as well.

“We want to make them take hard shots, just like they want us to take hard shots. That’s kind of … the game plan, just come in with a defensive mindset, and have the offense take care of itself.”

Leading 54-30 with 14 minutes remaining Wednesday night, the Roadrunners failed to close out the game.

They were left stunned when the Miners outscored them 38-14 to the regulation buzzer.

Emboldened by the comeback, UTEP took a two-point lead into the final minute of overtime and then forced 3-point misses from Jackson and Keaton Wallace in the final seconds.

Miners guard Daryl Edwards knocked down a free throw with one second remaining for the final margin.

For the Roadrunners, it was the second time in the first three weeks of the C-USA schedule that they have allowed road games to slip through their fingers.

It happened first in Miami two weeks ago when Florida International stole an inbounds pass and hit a buzzer beater to tie the game in regulation, and then stormed to a 90-83 victory in overtime.

It happened again in El Paso when Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward in his first season with the Miners, finished with a season-high 34 points and 10 rebounds.

After scoring a modest 10 points in the first half, the Fresno State transfer started to get hot.

He made several tough shots out of the low post after intermission on the Roadrunners, who lost in spite of solid games from Jackson (29 points, 13 rebounds) and Keaton Wallace (26 points).

Despite the mounting adversity, Jackson said UTSA’s attitude has been good.

“Everybody on this team knows we should have pulled that one out,” Jackson said. “There’s no doubt about that. But, all we can do from that is just learn as a team.

“We got to learn how to close out games. I think that’s been one of our weaknesses just lately.”

Records

UTSA 8-10, 2-3
UTEP 11-7, 2-3

Notable

Newcomer Eric Parrish practiced with the Roadrunners in five on five drills Friday afternoon, but it remains uncertain when — or if — he will be allowed to play this season.

Coach Steve Henson said that UTSA communicated with the NCAA on the matter earlier this week. But the coach said he hasn’t heard about any ruling yet.

Parrish is an athletic, 6-foot-6 guard-forward who could give the team an immediate boost.

He has played one season at Akron in NCAA Division I and one in junior college. After that, he spent part of last semester at Division I Nevada.

But because Nevada changed coaches last summer and because Parrish didn’t play in any games for the Wolf Pack this season, UTSA is asking if he can play immediately for the Roadrunners.

Most players transferring from one D-I program to another are required by NCAA rule to sit out a year.

Trailing by 24 points, UTEP rallies past UTSA in overtime, 80-77

Junior forward Bryson Williams exploded for 34 points, and the UTEP Miners rallied from 24 points down to beat the UTSA Roadrunners 80-77 in overtime Wednesday night in Conference USA basketball.

UTSA built a 42-28 lead at halftime, extended it to 54-30 with 14:43 remaining in regulation and then couldn’t hold on at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso.

“There’s going to be so many things we’re going to look at, and second-guess every single decision we made there,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “We were up 24 … and started turning it over and couldn’t get stops.

“(Against Williams) we went zone and (we) liked that for a few possessions, and they kept pounding it into him regardless of what defense we were in. Yeah, it’s tough. Really tough.”

With the victory, UTEP snapped a five-game losing streak to UTSA in the series between C-USA rivals. It was the first victory for the Miners over the Roadrunners since Jan. 21, 2017.

The loss kept UTSA winless on the road in the C-USA (0-3) this year.

In two of the losses — at Florida International and at UTEP — the Roadrunners squandered perfectly good chances to win in regulation, only to collapse and then lose in the first overtime.

Scoring leaders

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson 29, Keaton Wallace 26.
UTEP — Bryson Williams 34, Daryl Edwards 18.

Records

UTEP 11-7, 2-3
UTSA 8-10, 2-3

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, 3 p.m. Saturday

First-half recap

The Roadrunners outscored the Miners 20-6 in the paint and forged a 22-17 lead on the boards en route to a commanding 42-28 advantage at intermission. Down by three points early, UTSA went on a 17-2 tear behind Jackson to take charge of the game. Later, UTEP rallied to within six. But Wallace exploded for the Roadrunners, who outscored the Miners 14-6 in the last six minutes

Second-half summary

Luka Barisic hit a bucket inside and knocked down two from three-point range as UTSA scored 12 of the first 14 points after intermission.

After that, the Miners slowly started to get back into it. With the Roadrunners committing a few unforced turnovers, Williams posted up on the other end and started hitting shots, even inside the zone. Williams scored 20 in the second half on 8 for 12 shooting from the field 4 for 4 at the line.

Both teams had a chance to win it in the final minute but couldn’t score. For UTSA, Wallace was called for a charge. On the other end for UTEP, Eric Vila misfired on a three and Nigel Hawkins couldn’t hit from close range.

Overtime

Jackson hit a jumper and connected on a pair of free throws as UTSA started fast and took a one-point lead. But Williams answered with a jumper to make it 75-74 with 2:21 remaining. The Miners scored on their next two possessions, and the Roadrunners never led again. With UTSA down by two, Jackson and Wallace both misfired on threes in the final seconds.

UTSA wins its fifth straight, knocks off UTEP, 67-63

For the UTSA Roadrunners, an 0-5 start to the season is a thing of the past.

The Roadrunners won their fifth straight game and their second straight over UTEP in three days, downing the Miners 67-63 Saturday night in El Paso.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson has returned from inury to average 20.5 points per game this season. – Photo by Joe Alexander, Jan. 3 at UTSA.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson produced 24 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the Roadrunners, who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 17 minutes.

“We went to that zone (defense) that we had in our back pocket,” Jackson told the team’s radio broadcast. “We worked on it. We just kept moving around and made ’em uncomfortable, and they weren’t making shots, and we just executed on offense.”

UTSA improved to 2-0 in Conference USA competition and to 8-2 in its last 10 since opening the season with the five straight losses.

Jackson sat out the first three games of the year as he completed rehabilitation from a knee injury.

The sophomore from Puerto Rico has returned to average 20.5 points in 12 outings. He’s scored 20 or more in nine of his last 10 games.

Records

UTSA 8-7, 2-0
UTEP 5-8, 0-2

Notable

Keaton Wallace came alive in the second half with 11 of his 16 points. Wallace burned UTEP for 23 in a 75-60 victory Thursday night in San Antonio. Nick Allen, meanwhile, continued to play well with 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Byron Frohnen pulled down 13 rebounds.

Quotable

“It was a good win, to go on the road and find a way.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

Wallace scores 23 as UTSA beats UTEP, 75-60, in C-USA opener

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace produced 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks against the UTEP Miners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace showed up with his “A” game on Thursday night, which did not come as a surprise to anyone in the Convocation Center.

The Roadrunners were playing the rival UTEP Miners, and it was the Conference USA opener, so it figured that the standout sophomore from Dallas would arrive ready to make an impact.

He did, producing 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in a 75-60 victory.

But in a little bit of a twist to recent history, all eight regulars in the playing rotation made at least one field goal.

Not counting four players who played the final minute of the game, all eight in the rotation scored and four hit double figures, which was meaningful to Roadrunners coach Steve Henson.

“It’s good,” coach Steve Henson said. “We spent a lot of time working on some things this week, making sure Byron (Frohnen) is touching the ball. You know, he started out great. He gave us a good lift in the second half, as well.”

Byron Frohnen scored six points in UTSA’s 13-0 burst to start the game. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

Frohnen went scoreless for the first time this season last Saturday against Southeastern Oklahoma, which likely was the reason for the adjustment in practice. He responded with 10 points and five rebounds against the Miners.

“He’s just such a mismatch guy,” Henson said. “He just gives us such a different look. You know, they tried cross-matching some things, putting their five man on him. We set some real low, tight ball screens.

“It allowed him to get in the paint and shoot little floaters. He generally doesn’t force things. He’ll kick it out. So, to get him involved and have everyone else (hit a field goal), yeah, it’s fantastic.

“You can’t be a two-man show (with Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson). We know that.”

In a scheduling quirk, the two teams will play again Saturday night in El Paso. UTSA has won four straight and seven out of nine leading into the rematch.

In the recent nine-game stretch, the Roadrunners have played at a high level defensively, holding the opposition to 42 percent shooting or lower in each outing. The Miners were limited to 34 percent.

Playing under first-year coach Rodney Terry, the Miners flashed at times with some talented players.

But the Roadrunners’ defense seemed to take them out of what they wanted to do, and on top of that, the visitors also missed several easy baskets.

Records

UTEP 5-7, 0-1
UTSA 7-7, 1-0

Notable

The Roadrunners have won four straight in the series against the Miners.

Individuals

UTSA — Keaton Wallace, 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks. Jhivvan Jackson, 13 points, three 3 pointers. Nick Allen, 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Byron Frohnen, 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists. Atem Bior, 8 points, 12 rebounds.

UTEP — Nigel Hawkins, 21 points. Efe Odigie, 19 points, 16 rebounds. Evan Gilyard, 14 points, 3 rebounds. Kobe Magee, 5 points, 2 assists.


Jhivvan Jackson has his shot blocked in the paint, but UTSA regains possession and gets the ball to Keaton Wallace, who buries a three.

First half

Playing lock-down defense from the outset, UTSA bolted to a 13-0 lead and then held on for a 33-24 advantage against UTEP heading into intermission.

The Roadrunners held the Miners to 30.4 percent shooting in the first half on 7 of 23 shooting from the field.

On offense, UTSA started fast, hitting 6 of its first 8 shots. Frohnen had three of them to get the offense rolling.

Second half

The Roadrunners got rolling early in the second half with an 8-0 run, highlighted by two three-pointers from Jhivvan Jackson.

UTSA increased the lead to 19 twice (47-28 and 49-30) and never allowed UTEP to come within 12 points in the last 15 minutes.


Roadrunners forward Adrian Rodriguez maneuvers to sink a baby hook shot for the final points of the half.

A rivalry game

Wallace said it’s always fun to play the Miners.

“This is our rival game,” he said. “We knew a lot of people were going to come out and watch. So we were locked in and focused.”

Wallace said the team had a different mindset compared to its previous outing, a lackluster 70-67 victory Saturday against Division II Southeastern Oklahoma.

“It’s conference play, so we got to play our best basketball” he said. “We practiced great the last three days. We came out, and it showed.”

Wallace continues to blossom

Wallace has notched one 35-point game this season along with six more with 20 points or better.

Henson said it’s almost like the player’s consistency leads to frustration, in that the coaches always expect the best from him.

“When he gets open shots, I think he’s going to make every single one of them,’ the coach said. “For a young guy, he’s got a very mature approach to his game, the way he handles his business.

“He works hard. He’s here early. He watches a lot of film. He prepares the right way.

“His athleticism is becoming very noticeable. We talked about him gaining 20 more pounds. But, man he’s up around the rim more. He’s going to the offensive glass and getting results. He’s blocking shots.

“He’s doing great things.”

Attendance

UTSA announced a crowd of 1,218.