LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The tale of two halves went against the UTSA men’s basketball team (5-5) on Wednesday night at the Jack Stephens Center, as Little Rock’s (5-6) defensive pressure put the clamps on the Roadrunners’ top scorer in the second half while the Trojans caught up offensively. Little Rock slipped past UTSA’s one-point halftime lead and outscored the Roadrunners in the second half to pull away to the 93-84 Trojans win – snapping UTSA’s three-game win streak in the process.
The Roadrunners were rolling early in the opening period, staying on track with the long ball like the previous two outings and knocking down nine threes on 47.4-percent perimeter shooting in the first half. Leading the charge was junior guard Christian Tucker, who matched his career high from Sunday with a 4-for-5 three-point explosion in the opening half – heading into the break with 14 to lead all scorers.
With threes buoying the Roadrunners’ slight edge, UTSA broke out to a 9-0 run just beyond the midpoint of the half, including a pair of treys from Tucker and another from PJ Carter – building out a game-high 14-point advantage for the Roadrunners with five minutes to go. Aiding the effort to keep UTSA on top, junior guard Isaiah Wyatt collected seven first-half rebounds to give UTSA the early edge on the glass.
After over four minutes without a score, the Trojans made their move. A three-point play on Jaylen Crocker-Johnson’s driving layup, followed by threes from Jamir Chaplin and Jordan Jefferson made it a two-possession game. A Chaplin putback layup gave Little Rock a short-lived second lead of the game with 48 seconds remaining. However, Wyatt found Massal Diouf on the block to grant UTSA a 43-42 halftime lead as time ticked away. Hopes to grow the lead were dashed as a fouled UTSA shooter was waved off as time expired.
Four lead changes came in the first seven minutes of the second half, with one tie. However, back-to-back scores from Cougar Downing swung the momentum toward Little Rock, racking up an 18-8 scoring push during six minutes UTSA was held without a field goal – remaining in the fight at the free throw line while Little Rock assumed a 68-62 lead. Scores from Wyatt and Carlton Linguard Jr. got the Roadrunners moving in the right direction, but as the teams traded scores the Trojans created a growing gap.
As UTSA made its move down the stretch, Little Rock kept the rally at bay with a 10-of-12 conversion at the free throw line, holding off the Roadrunners to the 93-84 final.
Smothering Tucker in the second half, Little Rock held the first half’s hot shooter to no field goals for nearly 19 minutes of the second period, giving up a 2-for-2 conversion on the pair he created in the final 65 seconds. Tucker finished with 23 on the night, shooting 6-for-10 from the field and 7-of-8 at the line. Wyatt added 16 points and nine rebounds, shooting a season-high 7-of-8 at the line. Carter (12), Dre Fuller Jr. (12) and Linguard (10) rounded out five Roadrunners scoring in double-figures.
The Roadrunners will head northwest out of San Antonio on Saturday to face a Pac-12 opponent for the fourth time in the last five seasons, charted for a Dec. 17 trip to Oregon State. The Roadrunners and Beavers have met three prior times, all OSU wins; the last in the 2020-21 season. The Roadrunners return home to the Convo on Dec. 21 to face Army West Point.
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