UTSA triumphs over Rice in OT for first AAC win

HOUSTON – The UTSA men’s basketball team (7-8, 1-1 AAC) erased a 10-point deficit to rally past Rice (6-9, 0-2 AAC) in overtime on Saturday at the St. Thomas’ Jerabeck Activity and Athletic Center. After Jordan Ivy-Curry hit a pair of free throws that tied it with 3.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Isaiah Wyatt’s steal and full-court drive sealed it in overtime for the Roadrunners to capture an 89-82 victory in the program’s inaugural American Athletic Conference win.

Seven-footer Carlton Linguard Jr. changed the face of the game early, forcing Rice to adjust defenses as the senior center knocked down three of his first four from long range. Linguard’s effort combined with three long-shots from Dre Fuller Jr. and another from Christian Tucker, as the Roadrunners dropped seven of the first 10 buckets from long range – building out a game-high 11-point lead with 8:57 before half on a Trey Edmonds second-chance score.

The Owls’ leading scorer, Travis Evee eventually got Rice moving, scoring on three consecutive possessions to cut the UTSA lead down to 28-24. Following timely threes from Evee and Mekhi Mason, the Owls cut the deficit to a single possession heading into the final two minutes. Although UTSA controlled the lead for nearly 14 minutes, it was Rice in front with 1:12 to go, as Noah Shelby’s three dropped in and sent the Owls to the break leading 41-38.

The Roadrunners’ shooting was off to a sluggish start in the second half, opening the period 1-for-5, which gave the Owls a chance to build their lead to 10 points on an Evee three with 15:20 on the clock.

However, for the second game in a row, a slump-snapping score inside from Massal Diouf put the Roadrunners in motion, sparking a 13-1 run over the next five minutes that pushed UTSA back in front, 55-53, on PJ Carter’s triple in the corner. Over the following four minutes, the teams traded scores and generated four further lead changes and two ties.

Trailing with just under two minutes to go, Ivy-Curry collapsed the Rice defense on a deep drive, kicking out to Tucker on the perimeter for the game-tying three at 73-all. The scores shuffled with a pair from Evee and a stepback jumper from Fuller, but Ivy-Curry drew the crucial shooting foul with 3.1 seconds remaining, taking care of business to end regulation tied at 77.

In just the second overtime of the year for UTSA, Ivy-Curry got things started by driving a steal the distance. Tucker broke the subsequent tie and back-to-back putbacks from Linguard and Fuller kept the Owls at just enough distance. Wyatt extended the lead to five as he batted the ball away from forward Max Fiedler and raced the distance for the layup with 1:13 to go. Fittingly, Ivy-Curry delivered the final two points at the line for the 89-82 UTSA win.

Linguard drew some well-deserved emphasis on Saturday, going 8-for-13 with 4-for-8 from three, to score a career-high 24 points with four rebounds. Fuller also went 8-for-17 with 5-for-9 from three to score 23 points with three steals and four rebounds. The duo secured the second occasion this season for UTSA with two 20-point scorers. Ivy-Curry finished with 15 thanks to a necessary 8-of-9 shooting at the line, adding in seven rebounds and four assists. Topping an 18-assist team effort by the Roadrunners, Tucker scored 10 with seven assists.

UTSA finished the afternoon shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 45.2 from long range, ending the game with 14 three-pointers. Outrebounding Rice 7-2 in overtime, UTSA won the battle on the boards, 39-33.

A near-perfect converse for Linguard and Fuller, Evee and Mason scored 25 and 22 for the Owls, respectively.

The win edges UTSA out to a 13-10 lead in the series, ahead of the Owls Feb. 3 return trip to the Convocation Center.

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. The 12-2 Tigers are set to face SMU on Sunday at home. UTSA’s next appearance at the Convo is another ESPNU contest, squaring off with Charlotte on Jan. 13. 


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