By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Karen Aston appreciates the progress her team is making. Every time her UTSA Roadrunners play well and win, she talks about how proud she is of her players for making it happen. At the same time, the coach isn’t content. Not by any means.
She wants more. Locked in a tie for sixth place in the American Athletic Conference standings and coming off a one-point loss, the Roadrunners will try to regain the momentum today when they play on the road against the SMU Mustangs.
At the turn of the new calendar year, the Roadrunners hit their stride. They knocked off Wichita State, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte and South Florida in succession.
Charlotte was undefeated in conference when UTSA registered an 81-80 victory in double overtime. South Florida came to San Antonio with the best program in the AAC over the last decade and it, too, went down to defeat.
The Roadrunners crushed the defending AAC regular-season champs, 65-42.
Last weekend, UTSA nearly made it five wins in a row. The Roadrunners traveled to Alabama and led most of the way against the UAB Blazers, only to give up the lead in the fourth quarter. UAB nipped UTSA, 54-53.
As a result, UTSA will hit the court today at Moody Coliseum, hoping to make strides in the other direction. With the Mustangs, the Roadrunners will face a team that is probably better than its record would indicate.
In their last two games, the Mustangs have displayed competitive fire. A week ago today, they traveled to face the East Carolina Pirates, an NCAA tournament team last year and this year’s conference favorite in the preseason poll.
The Pirates, who pounded the Roadrunners by 28 on Jan. 2, struggled against the Mustangs. Eventually, the Mustangs fell 68-61 even though they had neutralized most of the Pirates’ best scoring threats.
On Wednesday night, the contending Temple Owls tipped off against the Mustangs in Dallas. Temple was a team that out-muscled and out-played UTSA at Philadelphia. The Mustangs took care of the Wildcats, 68-66.
AAC women’s basketball:
UTSA 10-8, 4-3; SMU 9-10, 3-5
The UTSA men are also on the road today. Steve Henson’s Roadrunners, coming off an 89-88 victory at home over the Tulane Green Wave, will be in Tampa, Fla.
They’ll tip off at 3 p.m. against the South Florida Bulls. Within the past few weeks, the Roadrunners have had a chance to win twice against Top 25 competition in the AAC, but they lost both games in overtime.
In their last outing, they won in dramatic fashion.
Jordan Ivy-Curry hit a three with 2.3 seconds left, boosting the Roadrunners to an 89-88 victory over the Tulane Green Wave. With Ivy-Curry in the lineup, UTSA all of a sudden has the look of one of the most dangerous teams in the conference. He is averaging 18.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Another player who raised eyebrows against the Green Wave was 7-foot center Carlton Linguard Jr., who scored a career-high 31 points.
For UTSA, South Florida will provide another tough test. The Bulls, who have won 10 of their last 11 overall, have moved into title contention in the AAC. They’re tied in the loss column with the leaders and only a half game out of first place.
AAC men’s basketball:
UTSA 8-12, 2-5; USF 12-5, 5-1