Men's Basketball

UTSA takes on Rice in first AAC road game

HOUSTON – Coming off one of the biggest momentum-swinging games imaginable, the UTSA men’s basketball team (6-8, 0-1 AAC) looks to take the positives from Tuesday’s home loss to UAB on the road to face the Rice Owls (6-8, 0-1 AAC). Due to water damage at Rice’s Tudor Fieldhouse, the Roadrunners and Owls will be squaring off at University of St. Thomas’ Jerabeck Activity & Athletic Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Conference USA Championships drama-filled opening round. Saturday’s radio broadcast will air on Sports Radio AM 760 The Ticket and Rice’s telecast will be streamed on ESPN+.

On the Air and the Web
Saturday’s game will tip off at 2 p.m. at the Jerabeck Center and will air live on the Radio with Andy Everett on the call on Sports Radio AM 760 The Ticket. As always, the broadcast will feature a 30-minute pregame and 15-minute postgame show – available online at Ticket760.com or via the free iHeartRadio app.  

To watch the game live, subscribers can check out ESPN+. Butch Alsandor (play-by-play), Nate Griffin (analyst) and Abby Christopherson (sideline) will cover the broadcast call.

Rice Athletics will also provide LIVE STATS from the Jerabeck Center.

Coaches Show Set for January 8 Premiere
The maiden date for this year’s UTSA Basketball Coaches show is coming up on Jan. 8 at Chicken N Pickle, on the east side of I-10 off UTSA Blvd (5215 UTSA Boulevard, 78249) features men’s basketball head coach Steve Henson and women’s basketball head coach Karen Aston.

Last Time Out
UTSA’s American Athletic Conference opener on Tuesday at the Convocation Center was a see-saw battle that came down to the closing seconds, featuring 18 lead changes and 13 ties before UAB’s Efrem ‘Butta’ Johnson rainbowed the game winner along the baseline for a 78-76 UAB win.
After holding up a one-point halftime lead (40-39) and the biggest possession control in the opening period, UTSA split lead time with UAB in the second half, 8:42-7:09.
 As the lead swayed back-and-forth in the second half, Jordan Ivy-Curry scored six consecutive points to give UTSA a half-high, six-point lead at 61-55 with 9:12 on the clock.
 Isaiah Wyatt’s steal and score presented a 68-all tie and Ivy-Curry nudged the Roadrunners ahead late with a pair of free throws. Trey Edmonds and Ivy-Curry both created ties for UTSA in the final minute.
However, as the game veered toward constant momentum shifts down the stretch, Johnson scored the final 10 points for the Blazers in a three-and-a-half-minute span, including the game-winner with 2.5 seconds on the clock.
Although Johnson stole the show in the end, it was forward Yaxel Lendeborg who kept UAB in the game – putting up 23 points on an uncharacteristic 5-of-6 from three and 8-of-8 at the line, notching a double-double with 15 rebounds along with seven blocks.
For the Roadrunners, Ivy-Curry logged a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, along with four assists – notching his second consecutive 20-point performance since being activated before Oregon State (Dec. 17).
 Ever since he opened the season with eight assists against Western Illinois, Christian Tucker has sat atop the American Athletic Conference total assist rankings. He’s now in his ninth straight week leading the AAC in total assists (72), while falling out of the top spot for the first time this season for assists per game (5.1) – supplanted by Tulane’s Kevin Cross (5.2). Tucker ranks 40th in the NCAA in total assists and 42nd in assists per game, coming in at fourth in the AAC and 62nd nationally with a 2.67 assist-to-turnover ratio.
 Ivy-Curry has taken over the top scoring spot from Tucker for the first time with a 13.8 ppg average, along with 5.3 rpg and 5.0 apg. Tucker follows with 13.4 ppg and 3.2 rpg., ahead of Dre Fuller Jr. (10.6 ppg) and Wyatt (10.1 ppg). Wyatt tops UTSA and ranks fourth in the AAC with 31 three-pointers on the year, averaging a league sixth-best 2.21 per game. 
 Carlton Linguard Jr. holds a slight edge on the glass for UTSA with 6.3 rpg, claiming third in the AAC with 2.79 offensive rpg. Edmonds (6.2 rpg) and Fuller (6.1 rpg) follow for the Roadrunners.
 The Roadrunners are averaging 27.5 ppg as a team on 41.6 percent shooting with the fourth-best scoring offense in the AAC. UTSA ranks 52nd nationally (third AAC) with 40.21 rpg. The team averages 11.6 turnovers and a 1.23 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Series with Rice
The Roadrunners hold a slight edge at 12-10 as these teams head into their 23rd series meeting, having split the last four outings. The series began in 1984 with six non-conference tilts but picked up steam in 2013-14 when UTSA joined Conference USA. Head coach Steve Henson is 6-6 against the Owls.

In the last meeting on March 8, 2023, in the opening round of the CUSA Championships, UTSA rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit for a fight to the finish that ended in celebration turned to heartbreak – Japhet Medor's buzzer-beating baseline floater was counted on the floor, but wiped away upon review, giving the Owls a 72-71 victory to end UTSA’s 2022-23 season.

UTSA claimed an 84-79 victory in its last trip to Houston on Feb. 16, 2023, and is 5-7 as the visitor in the series. Twice-annual opponents in the AAC, the rematch this season is set for Feb. 3 in San Antonio.

Scouting Rice
Although not strictly a home game, Saturday is Rice’s inaugural AAC home opener.
Playing under seventh-year head coach Scott Pera, the Rice Owls match UTSA’s record at 6-8 and 0-1 in AAC play after falling to Tulane on Wednesday in New Orleans, 59-84. Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup with their last win coming against Prairie View A&M – Rice winning 82-56 (Dec. 20) and UTSA winning 103-89 (Dec. 28).
Rice averages 72.8 ppg on 43.5 percent shooting, collecting 37.0 rpg as a team but outrebounding the opposition with a 1.1 margin.
Senior guard Travis Evee tops the Owls with 16.4 ppg on 42.6 percent shooting, leading the team with 29 threes on the year via a 31.9 shooting percentage. Evee adds in 2.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds as well. He was a Conference USA honorable mention player last season.
 Returning from the CUSA All-Freshman Team, sophomore guard Mekhi Mason averages 12.2 ppg on 37.1 percent shooting, along with 3.9 boards. A second-team All-CUSA player last year, senior forward Max Fielder leads the team with 8.5 rpg and 66 assists, chipping in 9.4 ppg.

Up Next
UTSA will head back out on the road early next week for the toughest matchup of the early season, heading to the FedEx Forum to take on 15th-ranked Memphis. UTSA’s next appearance at the Convo is another ESPNU contest, squaring off with Charlotte on Jan. 13.




- UTSA -