W. Kentucky wins in OT; UTSA’s Jackson breaks school records

Jhivvan Jackson. Western Kentucky beat UTSA 77-73 in overtime in Conference USA on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson set school records for career and single-season scoring during Western Kentucky’s 77-73 overtime victory at UTSA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson on Saturday established school records for career and single-season scoring, but he had a hard time celebrating any of it after the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers carved out a 77-73 victory in overtime.

An announced crowd of 1,576 at the Convocation Center watched as the 6-foot junior from Puerto Rico surpassed the records of UTSA legends Devin Brown (for career scoring) and Derrick Gervin (for single-season points).

Both Brown and Gervin went on to play in the NBA.

Jackson secured the single-season record late in regulation and established the career record during overtime.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough for the slumping Roadrunners, who lost to one of Conference USA’s powers, falling to 4-6 in their last 10 games.

By scoring 27 for the game, Jackson pushed his totals to 1,924 points for his career and 727 on the season.

“We still took the loss,” Jackson said. “To me, I mean, I don’t really play for records. I mean, it’s an honor. But we still took the ‘L.’ We just got to come in and get better on Monday and get better and get ready for pod play. Got to get better.”

Jhivvan’s day

Hounded by Taveion Hollingsworth and others for Western Kentucky, Jackson finished with 8 of 24 shooting.

He was off the mark on a long three and on a driving two in the final minute of regulation, either of which could have tipped the game into the Roadrunners’ favor.

In overtime, Jared Savage had five of his team-high 24 points as the Hilltoppers won the extra period, 13-9.

Jackson misfired on five of his six shots in OT, perhaps one reason why he was practicing his jumper in the gym long after most of his teammates were either still dressing or had left the building.

It’s the type of diligence that pushed him to become the No. 2 scorer in NCAA Division I this season and the leader in Conference USA each of the past two.

“I’m just going to remember how hard I worked,” Jackson said. “You know, I mean, that record is all about my work ethic. I take great pride in working out and getting better every day.

“That’s really what I just do. I mean, I just try to work hard every day and once I step on the floor in the game, I just translate it. It’s been working out for the past few years.

“I’m going to keep doing it, and hopefully we can get in the (C-USA)Tournament and make a run, because we all excited about it, and I know we will.”

Records

UTSA 12-15, 6-8
Western Kentucky 18-8, 11-3

First-half highlights

A story-line emerged in the opening half with the Roadrunners not shooting a free throw, while the Hilltoppers sank 11 of 15. Late in the half, the visitors kept pressing the action and exploded on a 14-4 run to take a 12-point lead. Keaton Wallace hit a three and Adrian Rodriguez a layup to bring the Roadrunners to within 41-34 at the break. Wallace kept UTSA in it with 16 points.

Second-half highlights

The Roadrunners played well enough to win the game for most of the second half but couldn’t make the key plays late. Early after intermission, the Hilltoppers were up by eight. But Jackson started to hit and UTSA rallied. The Roadrunners led by two three times down the stretch, the last time at 1:48 when Jackson drained a jumper. But in the final minute, Hollingsworth drove for a bucket to tie. Both teams misfired in the final 15 seconds.

Jacob Germany. Western Kentucky beat UTSA 77-73 in overtime in Conference USA on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Jacob Germany had his first double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. – photo by Joe Alexander

Overtime

UTSA played poorly on the offensive end and, in spite of it, had a chance to win in the final minute. Wallace’s three pulled the Roadrunners to within two points with 48 seconds left. On Western Kentucky’s next possession, UTSA center Jacob Germany went for a steal and fouled, sending Hollingsworth to hit two for a four-point lead with 30 seconds left. That was, essentially, the ball game.

Coming up

Conference USA teams will begin bonus, or “pod” play next week. Teams in first through fifth place positions will compete in one pod. Teams from No. 6 through 10 (including UTSA) are in a second group. In addition, teams 11-14 are in a third. All teams play four games.

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Avery Johnson covering Saturday's UTSA vs. Western Kentucky Game for CBS Sports Network. - photo by Joe Alexander

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Avery Johnson calling the game for CBS Sports Network. – photo by Joe Alexander

Teams in the first pod are playing for top-four seeding and a first-round bye in the C-USA tournament. Meaning, the top four teams after pod play will only need to win three games to win the tournament for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Teams in the second and third groups can’t get the bye, meaning that if the Roadrunners have any hope of playing in the NCAAs, they’ll have to do it the hard way.

They’ll need to step up their level of play in their last four games, create some momentum and then hope to win four games in four days at the tournament from March 11-14 at Frisco.

UTSA edges Western Kentucky, 81-76, in overtime

Jhivvan Jackson scored nine of his game-high 29 points in overtime Wednesday night, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners past Western Kentucky 81-76.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA came back from 18 points down to beat Old Dominion 74-73 Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson (File photo by Joe Alexander)

In the game played at Bowling Green, Kentucky, UTSA survived amidst 12 ties and nine lead changes, taking over second place in Conference USA and clinching a bye in next week’s conference tournament.

For the Roadrunners, Giovanni De Nicolao scored a surprising 17 on 7 of 10 shooting, while Keaton Wallace added 13.

Jackson, the leading scorer in Conference USA, hit 8 of 22 from the field and 4 of 10 from three.

Charles Bassey, a 6-foot-11 center who played two seasons at St. Anthony in San Antonio, led the Hilltoppers with 21 points. He also added 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

UTSA will close out C-USA regular-season competition Saturday on the road against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The C-USA will hold its tournament March 13-16 in Frisco.

Conference USA
Group 1 standings

Old Dominion 13-4, 23-7
UTSA 11-6, 17-13
Western Kentucky 11-7, 18-13
Southern Miss 10-7, 18-11
UAB 9-8, 17-13

Wednesday’s scores

UTSA 81, Western Kentucky 76, overtime
Southern Miss 59, Old Dominion 52

Notable

UTSA played shorthanded in the post against Western Kentucky. Starting forward Nick Allen, who has an injured toe on his right foot, didn’t play. In addition, Atem Bior fouled out and Adrian Rodriguez went to the bench in the second half with a bloody nose.

Quotable

‘The theme of the game was toughness. I thought our guys fought like crazy. I looked over and we’ve got guys jamming blood-sticks up their nose. (Trainer) Josh (Modica) was working on Adrian (Rodriguez), and Jhivvan needed some tape on his shoulder and Gio was cleaning his own bloody knee. We fought like crazy. I can’t say enough about those guys.’ – UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast.

Notable

With 20 seconds left in regulation, Jackson hit a long three to put UTSA up by one. Western Kentucky’s Lamonte Bearden had a chance to win it but missed the first of two free throws with six seconds left. Jackson, a 6-foot sophomore, scored nine of UTSA’s 13 points in overtime.

Quotable

‘We just got to give credit to Gio (De Nicolao) in the first half and our bigs. Our bigs played great (against Charles) Bassey. He’s tough to defend. We tried to limit the passes inside, just by really bothering the passes. We did that, and down t he stretch, we just got some stops.’ — UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson.

. .

Old Dominion, UAB post C-USA bonus play victories

The Old Dominion Monarchs on Saturday took another important step toward a Conference USA regular-season championship.

Trailing by three with 1:25 remaining, the Monarchs rallied with seven unanswered points down the stretch to defeat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 67-63, at Norfolk, Virginia.

It was the first game of the C-USA’s Group 1 bonus play, a new scheduling twist employed this season to boost the conference’s appeal in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament committee.

Other teams in the group include the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, the UTSA Roadrunners and the UAB Blazers. UAB won on the road, defeating Southern Miss 76-72 in overtime in another Group 1 game later Saturday.

UTSA was off.

Group 1 teams will continue the stretch drive for the C-USA title Thursday night, when the Jhivvan Jackson- and Keaton Wallace-led Roadrunners host the Monarchs at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UAB will host Western Kentucky.

Down by three against Old Dominion, Western Kentucky made a late push when Josh Anderson hit a couple of free throws and Lamonte Bearden scored on a driving layup.

Bearden’s bucket put the visitors up 63-60 with a little more than a minute remaining.

A that point, Old Dominion reversed the momentum and tied the score with an Xavier Green three-point jumper.

On the other end, Dajour Dickens blocked a shot by Hilltoppers’ freshman center Charles Bassey.

Green promptly knocked down another shot, a two-point basket, to give the Monarchs a 65-63 lead with 16 seconds left.

Western Kentucky went to Bassey again, and the former San Antonio high school standout got fouled.

A free throw miss and a turnover by Bassey gave the ball to the Monarchs and allowed B.J. Stith to clinch it with two free throws for the final points.

C-USA Standings
Group 1

Old Dominion 12-3, 22-6
UTSA 9-5, 15-12
Southern Miss 9-6, 17-10
Western Kentucky 9-6, 16-12
UAB 9-6, 17-11

Note: Each team in Group 1 has four games in bonus play. At the conclusion of the bonus-play schedule, the standings leader is the C-USA regular-season champion. The top four get first-round byes in the C-USA tournament.

Saturday’s results

Old Dominion 67, Western Kentucky 63
UAB 76, Southern Miss 72, overtime
UTSA is off

Thursday’s games

Old Dominion at UTSA
Western Kentucky at UAB
Southern Miss is off

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.

Jackson scores a career-high 46, but UTSA loses in overtime

Jared Savage knocked down three 3-point shots in overtime Thursday night as Western Kentucky Hilltoppers subdued the UTSA Roadrunners, 96-88, in Conference USA.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 70-67 on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored a career-high 46 points, the third most in UTSA school history.

In the game played at Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Hilltoppers overcame a career-high, 46-point effort from UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson.

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace scored 26.

Charles Bassey led the Hilltoppers with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Western Kentucky point guard Lamonte Bearden had 22 points and seven assists.

But it was Savage, a junior from Bowling Green, who hit the shots that mattered in the extra period.

His third in the overtime lifted the Hilltoppers into a 91-85 lead with 1:38 remaining.

UTSA made a crucial turnover in the final seconds of regulation that allowed Western Kentucky to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Byron Frohnen inbounded to Jackson, who tried to pass it back to Frohnen. But Bearden stepped in to make the steal.

Fouled on the play, Bearden went to the line and made one of two free throws, tying the game at 78-78.

The Roadrunners still had a chance as they rushed the ball upcourt, but a Giovanni De Nicolao runner was off the mark.

Record-setting effort spoiled

The loss negated one of the greatest individual performances in UTSA history.

Jackson hit 16 of 31 shots from the field, including 8 of 14 from three. The 6-foot sophomore from Puerto Rico was 6 of 8 on free throws.

In the end, he finished with the scoring record for an opposing player at E.A. Diddle Arena, the second most points in C-USA history and the third most in UTSA history.

Jackson drove for a layup and made a couple of free throws early in the overtime, but in the face of intense pressure from the Western Kentucky defense, he missed his last three attempts.

For Western Kentucky, Bassey sank 7 of 8 from the field and pulled down four rebounds off the offensive glass.

The 6-11, 245-pounder from Nigeria played two years at San Antonio’s St. Anthony Catholic High School before transferring to Aspire Academy in Louisville last season.

Records

Western Kentucky 12-10, 5-4
UTSA 12-10, 6-3

Notable

The Roadrunners had a four-point lead with a little more than a minute left in regulation and couldn’t close out the game. As a result, they were knocked out of first place in the C-USA standings.

Quotable

“(I’m) sick for our guys. You know, we got to find a way to win that game. Just finish it. We turned it over, missed a free throw, turned it over again. We put ourselves in a position (and then) they make a couple of threes, bank in a three, and we lose. That just can’t happen. We gotta find a way to win that game.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson, in comments aired on the team’s radio broadcast.

Western Kentucky coach on UTSA: ‘They’re 6-2 for a reason’

Calling UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace “two of the better guards … in the country,” Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said it’s not surprising that the Roadrunners have surged into a tie for first place in Conference USA.

The coach made his remarks on the eve of his team’s C-USA home game tonight against the surprising Roadrunners in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“They’re 6-2 for a reason,” Stansbury said. “They’ve got two of the better guards — not just in this league — in the country.

“When you’ve got guys … that can shoot it like that, you can come back from 17 down with three minutes and 45 seconds left.”

Trailing by 18 points with 4 minutes and 43 seconds remaining last Saturday in San Antonio, UTSA wiped out the deficit and beat Old Dominion, 74-73.

Perhaps more remarkably, the Roadrunners were behind by 17 with 3:45 left and still beat the Monarchs, thanks to the shooting of Jackson and Wallace.

The 18-point comeback is said to be the second largest point differential ever erased in NCAA Division I for a team trailing with less than five minutes on the clock.

The record is believed to be a 19-point deficit that was wiped out by the Nevada Wolf Pack in 2017, when they beat New Mexico, 105-104, in overtime and on the road.

For the Roadrunners, the performance against ODU was the third double-digit deficit that they have erased this season in a winning effort.

Previously, they knocked off Houston Baptist after falling behind by 11. They also beat UTEP after trailing by 10.

Stansbury pointed out that the Roadrunners nearly did it at Middle Tennessee, two weeks ago, as well.

In that game, the Roadrunners were down by 21 in the second half and ended up losing by three.

“They’re a really explosive team, offensively,” Stansbury said. “Jackson and Wallace can score that ball in bunches, in a hurry. When you’ve got guards that can do that, you got a chance against anybody on a given night.”

Jackson is leading C-USA, averaging 22 points per game. Wallace is fifth at 18.9.

Two freshmen, Taveion Hollingsworth and Charles Bassey, lead Western Kentucky and make the Hilltoppers one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.

Hollingsworth leads the Hilltoppers with 15.2 points per game.

Bassey, a 6-foot-11 native Nigerian who played at St. Anthony in San Antonio, averages 14.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.

In what should be a revealing trip for UTSA, the Roadrunners play at Western Kentucky tonight and at Marshall, in Huntington, West Virginia, on Saturday.

Marshall was the C-USA’s representative in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Records

UTSA 12-9, 6-2
Western Kentucky 11-10, 4-4

Dawkins’ shooting touch lifts UCF to Myrtle Beach title

Charles Bassey and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers started fast Sunday night in the finals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

But they couldn’t finish, as Aubrey Dawkins and the Central Florida Knights rallied for a 78-62 victory in Conway, S.C.

Dawkins, the son of UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, hit five 3-pointers and led the Knights with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists.

The game started as a battle between preseason favorites in the American Athletic Conference (UCF) and Conference USA (the Hilltoppers).

Also, it was an ESPN2 showcase of sorts featuring Bassey, one of the nation’s most prized freshmen, and 7-foot-6 UCF center Tacko Fall.

While Bassey steamed out of the gate with 15 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, Fall controlled the paint in the second half.

Using his imposing size, Fall bulled his way to 10 of his 13 points in the second half, including several dunks.

Bassey, so hot with his shooting touch early, appeared to get winded and missed some opportunities late.

One Bassey miss on a breakaway layup led to a UCF transition basket going the other way.

But, all in all, the 6-foot-11 freshman was dynamite, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds in only his fifth game in college.

First half summary

After Bassey’s initial explosion, Central Florida went to a zone defense to limit his touches.

It worked, allowing the Knights to get back into the game. But Bassey adjusted, as well, going strong to the offensive glass, and running the floor to catch passes on the fast break.

By halftime, Western Kentucky held a 32-28 lead, and Bassey had 18 points and seven rebounds.

San Antonio connections

Bassey, a native of Nigeria, played two seasons of high school basketball at St. Anthony in San Antonio. UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, a Duke graduate, played three seasons in the 1980s with the Spurs.

Bassey, Western Kentucky upset West Virginia, 63-57

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Friday night upset the West Virginia Mountaineers, 63-57, at the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

Freshman center Charles Bassey produced a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Hilltoppers (3-1) advanced to Sunday’s championship game against Central Florida.

Bassey, a 6-foot-11 native of Nigeria native who played in high school at St. Anthony in San Antonio, keyed a major upset victory for Conference USA by blocking a shot and making two steals.

Asked about playing against West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate, Bassey told Brad Stephens of the Bowling Green Daily News, “I’ve played against kids like him before. I’m ready to play against anybody.”

Three Western Kentucky guards scored in double figures, including guard Taveion Hollingsworth with 13 points, Josh Anderson (12) and Jared Savage (11).

Forward Esa Ahmad had 12 points and five rebounds for the Mountaineers (1-2) of the Big 12.

The Mountaineers committed 22 turnovers, causing coach Bob Huggins to call his team’s performance “a train wreck.”

“You can’t score when you throw it out of bounds 22 times,” he told the West Virginia radio broadcast.

Trailing by six, West Virginia made a late charge to tie the game at 57-57 on a free throw by Konate.

On the other end, Desean Murray elevated and dunked with the shot clocking winding down to spark a 6-0 run to the finish for the Hilltoppers.

UTSA rolls past second-place Western Kentucky, 74-63


UTSA forward Nick Allen hits a jumper off the baseline late in the game, courtesy of a drive into the paint and a slick pass from point guard Giovanni De Nicolao.

The UTSA Roadunners on Saturday soared to their third straight victory over a top-tier team in Conference USA, taking down the second-place Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 74-63, in front of 1,305 fans at the Convocation Center.

Freshman Jhivvan Jackson scored 22 points to lead the Roadrunners.

UTSA (13-11, 6-5) held Western Kentucky (16-7, 8-2) to 36.1 percent shooting, the worst shooting effort of the year for the Hilltoppers, who had won nine of their last 10.

Only nine days ago, the Roadrunners were blown out 75-51 on the road at first-place Middle Tennessee. It was their fourth loss in five games.

But since then, UTSA notched a victory at Alabama-Birmingham and followed at home this week with wins against Marshall and Western Kentucky.

Those teams are the fourth-, fifth- and second-place teams in the conference, respectively.

To view the upset in another context, Western Kentucky was 46th in the Ratings Percentage Index leading into the game. UTSA was 214th.

“Just shows that we can compete with anyone in this league,” Roadrunners forward Byron Frohnen said.


UTSA forward Byron Frohnen hits a follow shot off a miss from Toby Van Ry in the first half. Frohnen and Keaton Wallace led a UTSA rebounding onslaught with eight boards apiece.

Jackson scored 15 points and UTSA held Western Kentucky to 22.6 percent shooting in taking a 37-25 lead on the Hilltoppers at halftime.

In one of their best halves of the season, the Roadrunners alternated between man and zone defenses and limited the visitors to 7 of 31 shooting from the field.

Western Kentucky entered the game shooting 49.4 percent from the field in 22 games and 48.5 percent in nine conference games.


Emblematic of UTSA’s defensive prowess, Van Ry and guard George Willborn III (35) combine forces to protect the front of the rim on a Western Kentucky possession early in the first half.

Celebrating a victory

After the game, the worst kept secret of the day was confirmed, that UTSA players celebrated in the dressing room and that coach Steve Henson got right in the middle of it.

“Yeah, we had a little celebration,” Frohnen said. “It’s always good to get a big win, especially against one of the best teams in the conference. That just shows that we can compete with anyone in this league.”

From the outset, the Roadrunners just seemed to bring more energy than the Hilltoppers.

“We came out to play and they came out kind of asleep, to be honest,” Frohnen said. “So, definitely, getting on their backs right out of the gate was huge momentum for us.”

In 2015-16, the UTSA program had hit bottom with a 5-27 record, leading to the dismissal of the coaching staff and the hiring of Henson.

In the coach’s first year, the team was better, finishing 14-19 and 8-10 in the conference.

UTSA even won a game at the C-USA tournament, downing Western Kentucky before getting ousted by Middle Tennessee in the quarterfinals.

But over the last few weeks, it feels as if the entire program has executed another positive step forward.

“Our guys have practiced so well for three weeks in a row,” Henson said. “To see the progress and get the results, because of the practices, is what you want.

“The guys are figuring some things out. I think we’re getting better, which is very important at this point of the season, especially with young guys.

“You know, freshmen are sometimes hitting the wall. I don’t think our freshmen are doing that. They’re getting better every day. We’re in a good spot right now.”

Freshmen on the rise

Jackson and Wallace, arguably two of the best freshmen in school history, are both hitting their stride.

Jackson has scored 24, 23 and 22 points in his last three games, respectively.

Wallace had a career-high with 11 assists at UAB, and he has followed with double figures in scoring in each of the past two games.

Against Western Kentucky, he produced 11 points, a career-high eight rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Breaking it down: Western Kentucky at UTSA


UTSA players put up a few shots in advance of their game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Conference USA basketball

Western Kentucky (16-6, 8-1)
at
UTSA (12-11, 5-5)

Game time, 3:05 p.m.

Probable starters

UTSA
5 Giovanni De Nicolao G
2 Jhivvan Jackson G
35 George Willborn III G
3 Byron Frohnen G/F
25 Nick Allen F

Western Kentucky
1 Lamonte Bearden G
13 Taveion Hollingsworth G
15 Darius Thompson G
22 Dwight Coleby F
23 Justin Johnson F