Darling, Delaware turn back winless UTSA, 91-79

Guard Nate Darling poured in 38 points Sunday as the Delaware Blue Hens posted a 91-79 victory over the winless UTSA Roadrunners.

Competing in the finale of the Sunshine Slam at Kissimmee, Fla., the Roadrunners (0-4) played better on the offensive end than they had in three previous losses.

But they couldn’t stop Darling or Kevin Anderson, a pair of 6-foot-5 juniors, and lost for the third time in three days.

Anderson scored 31 for the Blue Hens (4-0).

As a team, Delaware shot 59.2 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from three (on 13 of 23) in winning for the third time in three days in Kissimmee.

Jhivvan Jackson scored 31 and Keaton Wallace had 19 for UTSA. Knox Hellums added 10 off the bench.

The Roadrunners shot 50.9 percent afield and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc (12 of 27).

UTSA entered the game averaging 63 points and shooting 32.8 percent.

Records

Delaware 4-0
UTSA 0-4

Coming up

UTSA will play at Utah State on Nov. 18.

First half highlights

The Roadrunners had trouble stopping Delaware from scoring in the first half and fell behind 47-37 at intermission.

Darling led the Blue Hens with 18 points

UTSA made a game of it in the final few minutes, rallying on an 11-2 run against the Blue Hens to cut the deficit to 10.

Freshman center Jacob Germany sparked the scoring spree with a dunk off a feed from Jhivvan Jackson.

Jackson hit a three for the final points of the half with 25 seconds left.

Oakland defense takes charge in 75-62 victory over UTSA

Kevin Kangu scored 20 points, and the Oakland (Mich.) Golden Grizzlies’ defense took over in the second half, sparking a 75-62 victory Saturday over the winless UTSA Roadrunners on Day Two of the Sunshine Slam at Kissimmee, Fla.

The Grizzlies’ defense clamped down on the Roadrunners early in the second half in an 18-1 run highlighted on the offensive end by Xavier Hill-Mais, who scored 11 of his 19 points in an eight-minute stretch.

Jhivvan Jackson led UTSA with 21 points. The Roadrunners led 36-33 at halftime. UTSA closes the tournament on Sunday against Delaware.

Records

Oakland 2-1
UTSA 0-3

Southern Illinois holds off UTSA, 72-60

Starting fast to build an early 20-point lead, the Southern Illinois Salukis held off the UTSA Roadrunners 72-60 Friday night at the Sunshine Slam in Kissimmee, Fla.

With the victory, Southern Illinois improved to 2-0 on the season. UTSA fell to 0-2.

The Salukis surged to leads of 11-0 and 33-13 in the first half against the Roadrunners.

Southern Illinois continued to convert in the second half when Marcus Domask sank a layup to make it 45-27.

From there, the Roadrunners started to click. Lucas Barisic hit a three, igniting UTSA on a 15-0 run.

A steal and a layup by Byron Frohnen pulled the Roadrunners within 45-42 with 12:15 remaining.

UTSA also had it down to three seven minutes later when Barisic hit another three to make it 52-49.

But the Roadrunners’ offense sputtered again, and Domask, a 6-6 freshman, scored eight points in the final five minutes to put the game away.

Records

Southern Illinois 2-0
UTSA 0-2

Leaders

Domask, in his first game against a Division I opponent, finished with 24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals for the Salukis. Aaron Cook had 19 points and Barret Benson 17.

For UTSA, Jhivvan Jackson led with 32 points, while Keaton Wallace scored 11. Barisic finished with nine.

First half summary

Southern Illinois moved out a 39-25 lead on the Roadrunners at halftime.

Freshman guard Marcus Domask has done most of the damage, leading the Salukis with 12 points.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson has scored 18 for the Roadrunners, who were down by as many as 20 in the opening period.

The Roadrunners will take on Oakland, Mich., on Saturday before closing out the event against Delaware on Sunday.

UTSA opened the season on the road at Oklahoma on Tuesday night. After playing the Sooners to a halftime tie, they got blown out 85-67.

UTSA fades in 2nd half of opening loss to Oklahoma

Oklahoma took control early in the second half and beat UTSA 85-67 on Tuesday night in Norman, Okla., in the Roadrunners’ season opener.

UTSA plays its next three games on the road Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Sunshine Slam in Kissimme, Fla.

Jhivvan Jackson, shown in UTSA's exhibition game on Oct. 30, led the Roadrunners with 24 points and 13 rebounds in their season opener against Oklahoma on Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson, shown in UTSA’s exhibition game on Oct. 30, led the Roadrunners with 24 points and 13 rebounds in their season opener against Oklahoma on Tuesday. – photo by Joe Alexander

The first half was played evenly with both teams leading by as many as seven points. UTSA and OU were tied 36-36 at halftime. UTSA’s Keaton Wallace had 11 points in the half and Jhivvan Jackson had nine points and 11 rebounds but also three fouls.

OU’s De’Vion Harmon hit a 3-pointer at the 18:30 mark of the second to give the Sooners a 39-38 lead. That ignited a 14-0 run by OU and the Sooners led the rest of the way.

Oklahoma had an 11-0 run later in the half to jump in front 61-43.

Harmon and Austin Reaves led OU with 23 points each. The Sooners shot 57.1 from the field in the second half and 47.7 percent for the game.

UTSA shot 33.8 percent for the game. The Roadrunners’ top two scorers, Jackson and Wallace, combined to shoot 15-of-41 (36.6 percent) from the field including 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) on 3-pointers.

Jackson led UTSA with 24 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Jackson shot 9-of-25 from the field including 1-of-10 on 3-pointers.

Wallace fouled out and finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds. He shot 6-of-16 from the field including 2-of-8 on 3-pointers.

Croatian forward brings multiple skills to UTSA basketball

UTSA forward Luka Barisic had nine points and five rebounds in 19 minutes last week in an exhibition victory against Texas A&M International. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Luka Barisic had nine points and five rebounds in 19 minutes in an exhibition game last week against Texas A&M International. – photo by Joe Alexander

If you execute a Google search for the city of Osijek, Croatia, you may come across a video showing aerial views of a picturesque community built on the river Drava, which cuts a wide swath through the town and meanders out across a marshy terrain in the distance.

Within Osijek itself, a paved promenade runs adjacent to the river. Bells ring out from a few quaint, spire-topped churches, which stand tall above clusters of four- and five-story buildings. This is the hometown of promising UTSA basketball newcomer Luka Barisic.

In Texas terms, Osijek is about the size of New Braunfels. Its population is pegged at anywhere from 84,000 to 88,000, according to various websites. But if you think Barisic is homesick or awestruck about living in a metropolitan area in South Texas, so far away from his European roots, think again.

The 21-year-old junior forward is a young man who has been on his own, away from home, for the past six years. In high school, Barisic attended a private academy in Zagreb, Croatia. For the past two years, he has lived and played junior college basketball in Freeport, Ill., about a two-hour drive to Chicago.

“My home town (of Osijek) is probably less than 100,000 (population),” Barisic said. “When you see Chicago, it’s probably like all of Croatia, because it’s like, four million people. It’s a big city. (It) gives you a good view of where you are, that you are in the U.S.”

UTSA forward Luka Barisic charges through traffic on the dribble in an exhibition against Texas A&M International. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Luka Barisic charges through traffic on the dribble in an exhibition against Texas A&M International. – photo by Joe Alexander

In July, he moved to San Antonio and started classes at UTSA. On Tuesday night, he likely will get a starting nod at forward in the Roadrunners’ season opener at Oklahoma. For Barisic, a former small-town kid from central Europe, it will be a major moment in his life.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “My team, we are like, ready and waiting for Tuesday.”

Also ready is Danko Barisic, 34, the ball player’s proud older brother. Some 15 years ago, Danko left Croatia to play in the United States. He spent two years at Weber State and two more at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Danko likes his brother’s chances to succeed.

“He’s really a good player,” said Danko Barisic, a 2008 St. Mary’s graduate and a Boerne resident. “He’s very humble, but he’s also a confident kid. Anyone who comes in contact with him know he is wise beyond his years.

Self-sufficient and motivated

“He’s been living away from home since he was 15 years old, when he started playing for a basketball academy back home. He’s self-sufficient and motivated. I think he’s going to do well.”

In the past year, UTSA coach Steve Henson reeled in a top-notch recruiting class featuring four-star center Jacob Germany, Barisic and others. If Barisic gets the starting nod against OU, as expected, he will be the only one of the incoming class to do so.

“Luka is certainly a three-point threat,” Henson said. “He’s also a very good passer.”

Henson said UTSA will miss forward Nick Allen, a four-year player for the Roadrunners who has played out his eligibility. But the coach hopes that newcomers such as Barisic, Germany and Phoenix Ford can step in to fill the void.

Barisic, who carries 240 pounds on a 6-foot-10 frame, has a unique skill-set that attracted interest from several NCAA Division I programs.

“We knew he was a good passer in the post,” Henson said. “(But) he passes it better from the perimeter than we anticipated. (He’s) a highly-skilled guy. He’s not the most athletic guy. If we’re going to compare him to Nick (Allen), he’s not as quick. He’s not as defensive minded.

“But, certainly, we hope we can offset that with just his high skill level. Pretty high IQ as well. So, he’s going to have a huge role for us.”

Honing advanced skills

Barisic developed an all-around game years ago in competition against older players, his brother said.

“He had always played with guys a little older, handling the ball on the outside,” Danko Barisic said. “His coaches had the foresight to develop that part of his game. They let him develop his skills on the outside early on. Handling the ball. Shooting the three.”

After Henson saw Luka Barisic play in the national junior college tournament in 2018, a scholarship offer was tendered.

But the family waited, and other phone calls started to come in. They came from Drake, the University of San Diego, Stephen F. Austin and Southern Illinois, the player’s older brother said. Barisic also took an unofficial visit to Minnesota, a power program in the Big Ten.

He eventually signed with UTSA in the spring this year.

“I was talking to a lot of coaches, to a lot of schools, some Big Ten schools,” Luka Barisic said. “But I was not impressed with some schools. What coach Henson presented was very good for me. So, I decided to come here.

“I think it’s a great program that (can) develop me, to play and enjoy the game of basketball.”

A family feel matters

Henson said he figured that with the ball player’s older brother living in the area, UTSA would have a good chance to sign him. Barisic didn’t discount the idea that having family within 30 miles of campus was a positive.

“Of course, that was some plus,” the ball player said. “But that wasn’t something that was the most important for my decision.”

Barisic has played at a high level for the past two years. In the summer of 2018, he made the under-18 Croatia National Team. In 2018-19, he averaged 17.9 points and 6.8 rebounds at Highland (Ill.) Community College and made third-team NJCAA All-American.

He said he liked the feel of the UTSA program when he came to visit. He said it felt sort of like home.

“One of the most important things about sport in general is chemistry,” Barisic said. “And, right now, I can tell you that we got great chemistry in the locker room. We’re like a big family. I think that is very important to us, and that it will bring good results.”

JC transfer Phoenix Ford makes UTSA debut in exhibition

UTSA forward Phoenix Ford playing at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Phoenix Ford playing at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. – photo by Joe Alexander

Phoenix Ford’s second college basketball season is his first at UTSA.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward is a transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

He played nine minutes and had one point, two rebounds and one steal in Wednesday’s homecourt exhibition. UTSA beat Texas A&M International 89-60 at the Convocation Center.

Erik Czumbel the latest Italian guard to play for UTSA

UTSA guard Erik Czumbel playing at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Erik Czumbel playing at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. – photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Erick Czumbel made his UTSA debut Wednesday in the Roadrunners’ 89-60 exhibition win over Texas A&M International at the UTSA convocation Center.

The 6-foot-3 guard played 20 minutes against A&M International and scored seven points.

Czumbel is a native of Italy and played for the Italian team in the FIBA Under-18 European Championships.

He is the second Italian guard to wear a UTSA uniform in recent seasons. Giovanni De Nicolao completed his three-year career with the Roadrunners last season and recorded 823 points and 348 assists for UTSA.

Introducing UTSA freshman guard Makani Whiteside

UTSA guard Makani Whiteside playing at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Makani Whiteside playing at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. – photos by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Makani Whiteside is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madera, Calif., where he averaged nearly 30 points a game as a senior.

Whiteside made his Roadrunners debut in Wednesday’s 89-60 exhibition victory over Texas A&M International. He played nine minutes, scored four points and had one assist.

UTSA unveils a high-flyer in freshman center Jacob Germany

UTSA freshman Jacob Germany throws down a dunk on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 2019 at the UTSA Convocation Center. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Jacob Germany throws down a dunk on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 2019 at the UTSA Convocation Center. – photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany is a 6-foot-11 freshman center from Kingston, Okla., and is playing his first season for the UTSA men’s basketball team.

Germany played 12 minutes and scored eight points on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 2019 at the UTSA Convocation Center. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. Germany shot 3-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 on free throws and had 5 rebounds.

UTSA basketball to show off ‘depth across the board’

Steve Henson will lead his team into an exhibition game tonight at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson – File photo by Joe Alexander

Tonight, the popcorn will pop and the soft drinks will flow, and the UTSA Roadrunners will offer their fans the usual fare of concession food and drink in the foyer of the Convocation Center.

But unlike so many other exhibition openers in the nearly 40-year history of men’s basketball at the school, they’ll have more to offer than free admission, plus chips and sticky nachos.

This year, the Roadrunners also will unveil a team that might actually have the talent to be considered as an NCAA tournament contender.

As UTSA prepares for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Texas A&M International, fourth-year coach Steve Henson says it’s the best team he’s had on the Loop 1604 campus.

“It’s the most talented team since I’ve been here,” he said. “Biggest front line since I’ve been here, (with the) most three-point shooters.”

When Henson arrived at UTSA a little more than three years ago, the talent was not good.

The Roadrunners were coming off four straight losing records, including an abysmal 5-27 in 2015-16.

Since then, UTSA has completely revamped the program, posting a combined 37 wins in the past two years.

The back-to-back winning records of 20-15 two years ago, and 17-15 last year, are a first since 2010-11 and ’11-12, the program’s last two teams in the Southland Conference.

Last year, the Roadrunners challenged for the Conference USA regular-season title until the last few weeks behind the dynamic tandem of guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

Ultimately, they finished tied for second at 11-7 and earned a bye to the C-USA tournament quarterfinals in Frisco, where their road came to an end with a loss to the UAB Blazers.

In the season finale, the Roadrunners fell hard, giving up 50 points to the Blazers in the second half.

Leading by seven at intermission with senior power forward Nick Allen playing on a broken toe, they lost 85-76.

“People don’t give (senior) Giovanni (De Nicolao) and Nick enough credit for what they did defensively,” Henson said. “Those were the guys who, when things got tough, they would rally the troops … They were the talk the talk guys, and then walk the talk, and all that.

“I mean, they backed it up, and they were all about team, team, team.”

Henson will lean on Jackson and Wallace to assume the leadership responsibilities this year, in the program’s 39th season.

“We’ve got a pretty introverted team, a quiet team,” the coach said. “But those guys have provided the type of leadership that we need right now. (I’m) very pleased with that.”

UTSA at a glance

Program debut: UTSA started playing men’s basketball in 1981-82. NCAA tournament appearances: 1988, 1999, 2004, 2011. Last season: 17-15, 11-7 in Conference USA; lost in C-USA tournament quarterfinals.

Coach Steve Henson

Taking over a team that won only five games in 2015-16, Henson has coached UTSA to records of 14-19, 20-15 and 17-15. He’s finished 11-7 in conference each of the past two seasons.

Returning starters

G Jhivvan Jackson (22.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg), G Keaton Wallace (20.2, 5.0), F Byron Frohnen (6.4, 6.8)

Newcomers to watch

C Jacob Germany, F Luka Barisic, G Knox Hellums, F Phoenix Ford, G Erik Czumbel, G Makani Whiteside

Notable

After the loss of three-year starter Giovanni De Nicolao, point guard duties are expected to be shared by Wallace, Jackson, Czumbel and Whiteside.

Quotable

“I think what really jumps out is just the competitiveness in practice,” Henson said. “It’s just a deeper (team), certainly bigger and stronger. Way more depth than we’ve ever had along the front line. It’s just very noticeable. You walk in and you see bigger and stronger guys … It creates a little more physicality in the paint. We’ve got good depth across the board. So when we go head to head, the games are pretty competitive.”

Jhivvan Jackson. Old Dominion beat UTSA 65-64 on Thursday night in a Conference USA game at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson