UT Rio Grande Valley races to 81-64 victory over UTSA

Forward Sean Rhea and guard Uche Dibiamaka fueled a second-half surge Saturday as the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros scored an 81-64 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

The game was played in Edinburg at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.

Rhea produced 20 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots for the Vaqueros, who bounced back from a lopsided season-opening loss at Texas. Dibiamaka scored 15 and hit three 3-pointers.

UTSA’s offense never really got untracked against the Vaqueros’ defense, which employed a mix of pressure in the backcourt, along with alternating man-to-man and zone schemes.

A day after scoring a 97-71 victory at home against Division II UT Permian Basin, the Roadrunners shot 41.7 percent and turned it over 13 times.

Freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry came off the bench to lead the Roadrunners with 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting.

Senior Jhivvan Jackson, the second-leading scorer in the nation last year, also came off the bench in his first outing this season. He added 10 points.

Last year, Jackson and Keaton Wallace were the highest-scoring backcourt in the nation, averaging more than 45 points between them. Against UTRGV, they combined for 16.

Wallace, who handled the ball for much of the afternoon, produced six points, six rebounds and four assists. He also had five turnovers.

Records

UTRGV 1-1
UTSA 1-1

Coming up

Sul Ross at UTSA, Friday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.

Turning the tide

After a shaky first half, the Roadrunners came out after intermission, trailing only by five. Pretty soon, they were tied, 34-34, when center Jacob Germany scored in the paint.

At that point, the Vaqueros took charge, outscoring the visitors 46-25 over the next 15 minutes for an 80-59 lead with 2:48 remaining.

Notable

The game matched coaches Lew Hill of UTRGV against UTSA’s Steve Henson, two men who both worked together as assistants under Lon Kruger. UTRGV was pummeled 91-55 at Texas on Wednesday night. Also on Wednesday, UTSA was scheduled to open at Oklahoma and had traveled for the game, only to have it called off because of Covid-19 issues in the Sooners’ program.

In response, UTSA took an unscheduled bus ride back from Norman Wednesday night. The Roadrunners opened at home Friday afternoon, routing the Division II Falcons by 26 points, before boarding another bus bound for the Rio Grande Valley. UTSA was scheduled to bus back to San Antonio Saturday night.

Quotable

“We didn’t feel like fatigue was a factor,” Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “We didn’t think the bus trips had anything to do with it. The bottom line is, they competed harder, and we didn’t make enough plays. We’re certainly not going to look for any of those excuses.”

Breaking it down

“They won a lot of individual battles,” Henson said. “We couldn’t stop ’em in the post. Lot of transition opportunities for them, and then they got going, knocking down the threes.”

Added Henson: “They just kind of dictated pretty much every facet of the game. But in transition, some of their individual offense got us. We just didn’t compete hard enough on that end of the floor …

“We talked a lot about handling their press. We didn’t turn it over a lot against the press. It just took us out of our rhythm.”

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