Entering their first game of a two-game series on Friday, Jan. 22 with a 5-8 record (1-5 C-USA), UTSA basketball was looking to bounce back after getting swept on the road against Louisiana Tech last weekend. UTSA’s performance at home has far outpaced their results on the road this season. Their play this weekend did not disappoint as they increased their home record to 7-1 after two wins against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. A pair of hard fought contests ended in a pair of six point victories for UTSA. This is the second time UTSA has won back to back games since early December.
Friday’s game started off aggressively with senior Jhivvan Jackson drawing a foul, sending him to the line for a couple of free throws within the game’s first minute, where he would spend most of his time during the game. Jackson went 11-13 from the free throw line and led the way for UTSA’s scoring with 25 points at the final horn. Jackson’s determination driving to the rim helped the Roadrunners tremendously throughout the game. Sophomore center Jacob Germany also contributed highly with a double-double, his third of the season, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Germany was a force under the rim with nine defensive rebounds and five blocked shots on Friday night. This duo along with Keaton Wallace’s 18 points allowed the ‘Runners to hold on as their team effort on defense and smart ball movement late helped to stretch the lead just enough to get the edge against Southern Miss in the first game of two.
Saturday’s game against the Golden Eagles was no different. It was close and gritty all the way through, but the ‘Runners held on once again. With a strong start from the 6’11″ Germany and a barrage of three pointers early on from Jackson and Wallace, UTSA took control of the game. UTSA remained calm and collected throughout the rest of the game and held on to repeat Friday night’s result. Jackson led the way in scoring once again with 24 points and sent a message to the Golden Eagles halfway through the game, scoring a thrilling buzzer beater three as time expired at the end of the first half.
Everything appeared to be in control for the ‘Runners, but turnovers allowed the Golden Eagles to stick around throughout the game. UTSA nearly doubled their turnovers from Friday’s game. Southern Miss capitalized on these mistakes, going on a 11-3 run late in the game to draw within four points with 14 seconds to play. This would ultimately be as close as they got as the ‘Runners tightened up the defense to close out the game. The Golden Eagles’ attempted to bring in double team traps, but it would not be enough as UTSA ran out the clock for a 78-72 win at the end of regulation.
It was a fantastic weekend for Jackson as he was named the Lute Olson Award National Player of the Week after averaging 24.5 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds per game over the weekend. Although the ‘Runners swept the weekend series, there are things they need to improve. Look for head coach Steve Henson to make adjustments to address the turnover issues going forward. They will have to adjust quickly as the team faces off against the UTEP Miners (7-7, C-USA 3-5) on Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Convocation Center before heading to El Paso for the second leg of a home and home matchup on Jan. 30. Jackson understands how important this week is as he stated in a post-game interview after Saturday’s result, “We need every win we can get at this point.” With time running out before the conference tournament, this weekend’s matchup will be a battle as both teams fight for conference position.