The Roadrunners’ race for the Conference USA tournament got a little smoother Thursday night with a home win against the UTEP Miners. Jhivvan Jackson continued to stay hot, and with Keaton Wallace, the pair held back the Miners’ duo of Souley Boum and Bryson Williams to win 86-79, and move ahead of UTEP in the conference standings.
Right out of the gate, UTSA got it going with four straight points in the low post from Jacob Germany, and it looked like that’s where the battle of the game was going to be fought. UTEP went on a six-point run though to take the lead, and UTSA didn’t like that. Just over twelve minutes into the game, the Roadrunners built up a 16 point lead that looked like it may be impermeable, and UTEP was going to be on the wrong end of a rout. Behind Boum and Williams, that didn’t happen, and after combining to score 23 of the Miners’ 38 points in the first period, UTEP had shrunk the point deficit to six points.
A 13-5 run to start the second half saw the Miners take the lead at 53-51 with about 14 minutes left in the game, as neither team shot the ball particularly well coming out of the locker rooms. The scoring surge was started by Souley Boum, and Williams and Jamal Bieniemy kept it going. UTSA lead by Jackson would work to extend their lead back out to as many as 14 points with just over seven minutes left, and would hang on to survive another Miner push in the closing minutes to get the seven-point win.
UTSA improved to 8-1 on the season in the Convocation Center, and found a key contributor in freshman guard Jordan Ivy-Curry who, in his first collegiate start, connected on 5-of-8 of his shots for 14 points, including nine points from deep. The Roadrunners were lead in scoring by Jhivvan Jackson ‘s 32 points, and Keaton Wallace led the team with eight rebounds and nine assists, while picking up four steals and 19 points in an all-around complete game.
UTEP fought well, climbing back into a game that looked like it might be over early. Souley Boum and Bryson Williams each scored 24 points to pace the Miners. Keonte Kennedy had a game-high 13 rebounds, and no player had more than two assists. The real issue for the Miners was from beyond the arc, where UTSA outscored them by 15 points.
The Miners (7-8, 3-6) will have their opportunity to get revenge on the Roadrunners (8-8, 4-5) on Saturday, and in much more favorable conditions for UTEP, as the game will be in El Paso for the second game of the home-and-home series. The Miners are 5-2 at home in the Don Haskins Center this season, and the Roadrunners have yet to win a game on the road, currently sitting at 0-7.
Catch all of Saturday’s action from El Paso on ESPN+ as the teams tip-off at 8pm CST.