Home General UTSA Basketball Starts 0-2 in C-USA After Losing Series to Rice

UTSA Basketball Starts 0-2 in C-USA After Losing Series to Rice

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New year resolutions don’t usually last long, and if the UTSA men’s basketball team was resolved to improve their Conference USA record from last season (7-11), they’re off to a rough start.

The Roadrunners (4-5, 0-2) lost the second game of a back-to-back series on the road at Rice University on Saturday, 84-69. The Owls (8-2, 2-0) outscored UTSA 15-2 in the final minutes of Rice’s victory on Friday, and carried that momentum into Saturday in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score looks.

Rice was firing on all cylinders right from the tip, and never trailed in the game, breaking out to a 10-2 lead in just over three minutes. UTSA would pull closer for a moment, but the Owls eight point advantage was enough to keep the Roadrunners at bay as they worked to extend their lead out to 20 points by halftime.

The biggest factor in the half, and ultimately the game, was Rice’s accuracy from the floor, particularly from three-point range. In the first period alone, Rice out-shot UTSA by 30% from the floor (62%-32%), and outscored UTSA 24-0 from three point range, connecting on 53% of their attempts (8-15) versus the visitors’ 0% (0-10).

Rice was still cooking in the second half, and grew their lead up to 32 points over UTSA, 66-34, with over 13 minutes still in the game. Roadrunner head coach Steve Henson played everyone on his bench to find an answer in the second half, and the Roadrunners outscored the Owls 41-36, but the damage was already done.

Both teams had four players score in double-digits, but Rice had the advantage, possessing the two top-scorers of the game. Leading all players was Chris Mullins, a 6’3” Junior guard, who had shot 70% and hit three of five attempts on his way to 20 points. Owls’ big-man Max Fiedler had another strong game, following up his double-double on Friday with 18 points on Saturday, going a perfect 8-8 from the floor and hitting a pair of free-throws. Travis Evee came back to Earth, scoring just 10 points and two three-pointers. Evee had 36 points in the first game on Friday, tying a Rice school record eight three-pointers.

UTSA was led in scoring by Keaton Wallace and Jordan Ivy-Curry who had 15 points each. Ivy-Curry, a freshman from La Marque, TX, came off the bench and scored all of his points in the second half, providing a spark that seemed to get the team going. It was a rough day for the Roadrunners up and down the score-sheet, especially as Coach Henson looked to his guards to get the team back into it. Forward-Center Luka Barisic played just seven minutes and didn’t score, and fellow big-man Jacob Germany recorded just 23 minutes and scored 11 points.

It was a rough road trip to Rice for UTSA’s dynamic-duo of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. Both struggled in general on Friday but were able to at least put together complimenting solid halves, but neither could get it going on Saturday, combining for just 25 points but nine fouls. The Roadrunners could definitely use these two getting back to form as soon as possible as Conference USA play continues, as the games tend to go good or bad based on how they perform. Two of the top career scorers among active players, Jhivvan is currently averaging just 16 points per game and Keaton has only 13 points per game. For Jackson, it’s his lowest scoring average of his collegiate career, and it’s Wallace’s lowest since his freshman season.

The UTSA Roadrunners will have plenty of time to put this series against Rice behind them. Next weekend, they’ll be back in the Convocation Center in San Antonio to host the Mean Green of North Texas (4-4, 0-0) for another weekend of back-to-back games, as is the protocol for this season. Friday’s tip is at 6:00pm CST.

Like with new year resolutions, it’s never too late to try again.

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