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Still Perfect at home
Over the Christmas break, the UAB Men’s Basketball team improved the home winning streak to 7-0, but they fell short on the road against two old foes.
Since last season, the Green and Gold have won eleven straight games at Bartow Arena. Neither Louisiana-Monroe, Northeastern, and Georgia Southern could break UAB’s home winning streak. However, despite owning their own court, the Men’s Basketball team continues to struggle on the road.
The Blazers suffered two tough losses over the break, first to Rutgers 88-79 on December 16 as well as falling short against Dayton 78-71 on January 5. Saturday’s match was Dayton’s first victory over the Blazers since the team’s first meeting in 1992.
While UAB clearly has the ability and the man power to win games, the contests against Rutgers and Dayton revealed a few problem areas that the Blazers must resolve in order to finish with a winning season.
The Blazers faced the same problems during Saturday’s game that they have faced in nearly every away game of this season. The defense had a hard time clamping down and adjusting to Dayton’s playing style, allowing the Flyers to take the lead early on in the first half, which they parlayed into a 16 point lead in the second half. While UAB did an amazing job rearranging their defense to get back into the game, the huge deficit left the Blazers scrambling with not nearly enough time to come back.
With the loss to Dayton, the Blazers move to an overall season record of 8-7 with Jordan Swing, Rod Rucker, and Terrance Jones leading the pack averaging 14.7, 14 and 10.5 points per game respectively.
The Blazers, Rod Rucker put on an amazing performance in each of the three home games over the break racking up 22 points and nine rebounds against Louisiana-Monroe, 12 points and 10 rebounds against Northeastern as well as 16 points and six rebounds against Georgia Southern.
In the game against Northeastern, Rucker managed to record his fourth double double on the season with Jordan Swing raining down 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The Blazers have averaged over 50 percent shooting from the field at home and just need to find a way to transfer that same enthusiasm on the road.
“Our guys have responded well all week following Christmas break, which is nice to see as a coach,” UAB head coach Jerod Haase said. “Overall, today’s performance might have been our best of the year. We had great energy on both sides of the court and beat a very good basketball team in Northeastern.”
“We just made hustle plays today,” Haase said. “What we do here starts with effort and energy, and we had a lot of that tonight with guys flying towards the ball and making the right plays at the right time.”
Just a few days later another Blazer, Terrence Jones—senior transfer student who played for Texas A&M Corpus Christi three seasons prior to joining the Blazers—had an incredible game against Georgia Southern. Jones had a season high of 19 points and seven assists while simultaneously scoring his 1,000 career point.
UAB head coach Jerod Haase said, “ (Terrence) really played like a fifth-year senior who has been through different situations. He was willing to make big plays. He made some mistakes throughout—he had six turnovers but seven assists—and he shot the ball well. And I think when we have different guys do that on different nights that works in our favor. I am really proud of the way he stepped up and really made plays.”
A discipline issue also had to be dealt with. Jekore Tyelr who was a junior college transfer from last year, was dismissed from the team citing conduct detrimental to the team. Haase said, “Jekore was unable to follow the standards that we set forth for the program and we do have high standards,” Haase said. “I am going to help him moving forward as much as I can and we will have ongoing talks about his education.” Jekore was averaging just over seven points and two rebounds a game this season. He was really the change of pace guy off the bench and was the most athletically gifted player the Blazers had. His ability to make the highlight dunks will be missed by the fans, and with him being one of the few guys UAB had to create his own shot off a dribble, he will be missed by coach Haase and the staff as well.
There is still a lot of basketball left to play but the true test of this new team’s abilities will be if the Blazers can learn to win on the road. The Blazers will be put to the test again this Wednesday, January 9 as UAB heads to Orlando to face UCF at 6 pm before returning home Saturday, January 12 to host Memphis at Bartow Arena at 7:30 pm.
Senior Staff Writer