UTSA guard duo topped Marshall University tandem, 116-106
HUNTINGTON — UTSA outscored the Marshall Thundering Herd, 116-106, in overtime Saturday in a game featuring high-scoring guards for both teams.
Sophomore Keaton Wallace led the Roadrunners with 45 points, the third-most in C-USA annals, while sophomore Jhivvan Jackson poured in 30 just two days after posting the league’s second-highest total of 46 in an overtime defeat at Western Kentucky.
Marshall seniors C.J. Burks and Jon Elmore tossed in 31 and 29 respectively.
Jackson is the league leader with 23.1 points per game, Charlotte senior guard Jon Davis is second with 21.5 and Wallace is third with 20.7 followed by Elmore (20.6) and Burks (18.4).
“Jhivvan gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but Keaton just keeps putting up good numbers,” UTSA head coach Steve Henson said. “We knew he (Wallace) had the potential to put up big numbers, but didn’t envision him putting up 45 like that. Jhivvan forced some things as he often does and turned it over a little bit too much, but our guys made enough good plays.
“Elmore and Burks kept making plays for them. Burks was terrific again, such a good layup shooter among other things. He’s got an unbelievable knack for getting down in there in the paint and finishing. Those guys are all talented scorers, guys that can get their own shot.”
The C-USA standings remain tightly bunched at the top with Old Dominion (18-6, 8-3) one-half game ahead of North Texas (19-4, 7-3) and UTSA (13-10, 7-3). UAB (14-9), Marshall (13-10) and Western Kentucky (13-10) share a third-place tie at 6-4.
North Texas won a close game Saturday at last-place Charlotte (5-17, 2-9), 73-66, and is back home Thursday in Denton, Texas, at The Super Pit to host Marshall at 8 p.m.
Marshall has four games left before C-USA splits into pods based on the standings for the final four regular season games.
Pods are teams 1-5, 6-10 and 11-14 playing each other at the end of the regular season and before the conference tournament.
The hope is playing better competition will enhance how the NCAA Tournament selection committee seeds C-USA teams.
Marshall goes from North Texas to Rice (9-14, 4-6) for an 8 p.m. Saturday game then comes home to play UAB and Middle Tennessee (7-16, 4-6) to determine its position in the pods.
“Overall, we just have to keep getting better,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “It’s a long season.”
Marshall led UTSA most of the way Saturday, including holding a 12-point edge in the first half, but not at the end.
The game played in front of a Cam Henderson Center announced crowd of 7,182 spectators was tied seven times and had 22 lead changes.
UTSA had a four-point edge with less than five seconds to play in regulation when Elmore put up a 3-point shot and was fouled. Elmore’s shot went in and he added a free throw that put the Herd even, 92-92.
Marshall had Wallace and Jackson guarded on two attempts to put the ball in play and the Roadrunners had to call two timeouts.
On the third inbounds play Giovanni De Nicolao’s pass went off Jackson’s hands out of bounds with three seconds left.
On Marshall’s final-second attempt to win in regulation Elmore passed the ball to Rondale Watson and the senior guard missed.
“Jon (Elmore) made a terrific four-point play,” D’Antoni said. ”(We) got a real good look to win it in regulation. the thing went all the way down, saw the bottom of the net, and came back out.”
Marshall began overtime with freshman forward Taevion Kinsey’s layup and Elmore’s layup and a two-point basket put the Herd up 98-97 with 3:39 to go in the five-minute extra period.
UTEP answered with a seven-point run and took the lead for good.
Wallace started the run with a layup, Jackson fired in a 3-point shot and forward Byron Frohnen finished it by sinking a pair of foul shots that put the Roadrunners on top 104-98 with 2:11 left. After Burks scored on a jump shot Wallace connected on two foul shots and hit a 3-pointer to protect the lead.
Wallace was 15-for-24 shooting (four 3-pointers) and 11-for-12 on free throws. Jackson made 10 of 23 shots (five 3-pointers) and went 5-for-5 at the foul line.
“Jackson and Wallace, we didn’t do a very good job on them,” Elmore said. “We have to pick up our energy defensively. We gave them way too many uncontested shots.”
D’Antoni said Herd defenders were sitting down in front of shooters instead of making them put it on the floor and driving or taking two-point shots rather than allowing them to attempt 3-pointers.
Burks said defense wins games.
Marshall (13-10, 6-4) at North Texas (19-4, 7-3)
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Super Pit, Denton, Texas
TV: beIN Sports
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM