Blazers battle in Bartow
Things started to look up for the UAB Men’s Basketball team after a much needed 78-72 win in overtime against UTEP on Wednesday, January 30. Jordan Swing, Robert Williams, Rod Rucker and Fahro Alihodzic all put up double digits to help the Blazers overcome UTEP.
“I am elated, excited, and proud of our guys,” said head coach Jerod Haase. “We talked a lot over the past few games about making winning plays down the stretch. Just because we are playing hard does not mean that we are a true team yet. To be a winning team we have to buy-in to a different level. We feel good after this win tonight.”
This game was a familiar dance for UAB and UTEP with the Blazers striking first; taking a short lead before the Miners quickly took control of the game. Before anyone had realized it, UTEP was up by 10 points. The Blazers had to throw everything they had into a surge at the end of the half with Rod Rucker connecting a jump shot at the buzzer to close the gap in UTEP’s lead making the score at half time 28-24.
After the break it took the Blazers a few plays to get back into the swing of the game, but once they did they made their shots count. Trailing by double digits, Haase rallied his team as they caught up with the Miners in regulation, and outlasted them in overtime.
The Blazers were looking to take some of the momentum from a win against UTEP into Saturday night’s match up with Southern Miss. However, the Golden Eagles managed to edge past the Blazers for the second time this season.
Over 5,000 fans were on hand Saturday night to watch one of the best games of the year so far. Even though the Blazers fell short of a victory, the fact that they were able to hold Southern Miss to 79 points despite their shooting 64 percent from the field speaks volumes about the defensive effort of the Blazers.
UAB shot 44 percent down the line for the game and managed to put up 75 points by playing smarter than the Golden Eagles who were a little faster and more aggressive than the Blazers.
UAB made several attempts to match Southern Miss’ aggressive style. Rob Williams got a goal tending penalty for responding appropriately to what he thought was a lobed pass. UAB also stepped up their defensive effort, forcing 19 turnovers as they attempted to take control of the game.
“I am really proud of my team,” coach Haase said. “UAB fans are very knowledgeable, and I think they would say that they saw our team really competing hard tonight. Obviously tonight ended with a loss, but our effort was tremendous. We did a good job on offense getting good shots throughout the game. I thought our defensive effort was there. Southern Miss really made a lot of plays offensively. It is going to be hard for anyone to beat them when they shoot 64 percent from the field.”
After trailing 8-10 points for most of the game, the Blazers brought the score within two points with just under a minute left to play. And just when fans thought the game was heading into overtime and they would see a repeat from Wednesday night, Southern Miss was able to capitalize on enough free throw opportunities to win.
With a record of 9-13, 1-6 UAB heads to Oklahoma this week to take on Tulsa. That game is set for Wednesday February 6, 2013 @ 7PM.
Senior Staff Wrtier