MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace combined to score 52 points, but Middle Tennessee held off a late UTSA rally in an 89-86 victory in Conference USA action on Thursday night at the Murphy Center.
Jackson scored 28 and Wallace added 24 to lead the Roadrunners (10-8, 4-1), who saw their longest winning streak in 10 years snapped at seven games.
The Blue Raiders (4-14, 1-4) made 10-of-15 shots from beyond the arc over the first 14 minutes to help build a 19-point lead en route to their first league win of the year. The win stopped a 13-game losing streak for Middle Tennessee, the defending C-USA regular season champions.
Jackson hit six 3-pointers, five in the final three minutes and four seconds while playing with four fouls, while Wallace made five from downtown to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double to help spur a furious rally down the stretch.
Trailing by 15 with a little more than three minutes to play, Jackson connected from long distance on back-to-back possessions to cut the deficit to 78-69.
After a pair of free throws by the Blue Raiders, Wallace matched his backcourt mate with a pair of 3-pointers of his own to make it 80-75 with 1:07 left.
Donovan Sims, who led Middle Tennessee with 24 points on the strength of five threes, was fouled and made both at the line, but Jackson ran off a screen on the right wing and hit another trey to pull UTSA within four with 53 ticks on the clock.
Middle Tennessee made 3-of-4 at the line over the next two possessions only to see Jackson hit yet another three to make it 85-81.
Following two more free throws by the Blue Raiders, a Wallace put-back kept the visitors within four with just under 10 seconds left.
Antonio Green was good on both tries from the charity stripe and Jackson’s 3-pointer as time expired provided the final three-point margin.
Green scored 21 points and James Hawthorne added 20 behind five threes, as Middle Tennessee hit 13 from downtown on the night. The Blue Raiders shot 49.1 percent (27-55) from the field and made 22-of-28 (78.6%) at the line.
UTSA shot 42.5 percent (34-80), made 14-of-37 (37.8% from long distance) and made 4-of-7 from the free-throw line.
The Blue Raiders grabbed a double-digit lead after knocking down seven of their first nine shot attempts from beyond the arc, the last on Hawthorne’s third trey of the game that made it 25-11 near the midway point of the half.
The lead grew to 31-13 after Sims drained a corner three and Reggie Scurry followed a missed shot with a tip-in with a little more than nine minutes left in the opening half.
Middle Tennessee increased the margin to 19 points after Sims’ fourth 3-pointer of the night made it 37-18 near the six-minute mark of the first.
UTSA cut the deficit to 13 with a 6-0 spurt capped by a Jackson jumper with 50 seconds remaining in the half. Adokiye Iyaye made it a 12-point contest after converting a three-point play with time winding down, but Antonio Green banked in a runner as time expired to give the Blue Raiders a 45-31 edge at the break.
After Middle Tennessee pushed the lead back out to 19 early in the second half, UTSA went on a 9-0 run that was keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from the left wing by Wallace and De Nicolao. Nick Allen then answered a Green layup with his first three of the night with 15 minutes left to pull the visitors within 52-43, the first time the deficit was less than 10 since UTSA trailed 19-11 near the 12-minute mark of the first half.
The Blue Raiders responded with a 12-2 run that included 10 unanswered points to push the lead back out to 19 with a little more than 10 minutes to go, but the Roadrunners would not go away quietly.
The Roadrunners will travel to Birmingham, Ala., to face UAB (11-7, 3-2) on Saturday, Jan. 19. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Bartow Arena and the game will air on ESPN+ and Ticket 760 AM.