UTSA forward Deon Lyle settles in, finds his shooting stroke

Part of the reason for Deon Lyle’s hot streak on offense can be traced to a move from small forward to power forward.

In UTSA’s offense, it’s fairly easy to get pure shooter like Lyle open on pick-and-pop plays when he is playing at “the four” position.

UTSA coach Steve Henson says he also believes some of reason for the high-percentage shooting can be attributed to the former junior college standout becoming more comfortable in his NCAA Division I surroundings.

Lyle, in turn, says he always has had confidence in his shot.

It’s just that, most recently, when one goes in for the 6-foot-5 native of Nebraska, several others seem to follow in rapid succession.

“I’m just glad the ball’s going in,” Lyle said. “The first few games, I think I had goose eggs. Oh for five. Oh for four. Oh for three.

“So, it just feels good to have the ball go in. I’m in the gym constantly. I’m constantly working on my shot. It’s just a sign of relief that the ball goes in.”

To be precise, Lyle wasn’t putting up goose eggs early in the season.

He was 1 for 5 in UTSA’s season opener. He was 1 for 4 in the second game. But when the Roadrunners traveled to the Bahamas Showcase, something clicked.

Lyle relaxed and started stroking it.

Now, in the past three games, he has averaged 13.3 points per game off the bench, while shooting 57.6 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point distance.

Lyle hopes to continue the streak when UTSA plays tonight at Orem, Utah, against Utah Valley, and Monday night at the University of Oklahoma.

Henson said he is happy that Lyle, from Cloud County (Kansas) Community College, has adjusted fairly quickly to the speed of the game Division I.

“He’s playing with confidence,” the coach said. “He’s playing mostly the four now, which allows him to get open a little easier. You got a facing four man, a pick-and-pop four man, you can get shots for those guys. That’s what he does best.”

At Tulsa earlier this week, Lyle broke out with an eye-opening performance.

While most eyes were watching Jackson score a career-high 29, Lyle made his presence felt with 14 points in 17 minutes.

He nailed 4 of 9 from long distance, including a few seemingly hoisted from the suburbs of Oklahoma City.

“I’m trying to get my confidence back,” Lyle said. “I’m starting to get my feel back. It’s just been going in. I try to stay confident. Stay aggressive. My teammates do a great job of finding me. And that’s the big thing.

“If my teammates didn’t find me like they did, I wouldn’t shoot a high percentage. I promise you that. So, they do a great job of finding me. They pass the ball really well, and the numbers show.”