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Jerod Haase’s squad ends season in loss to USM, finish the year 16-17
It has been a long crazy trip for the UAB Men’s Basketball team this season, loaded with surprises, disappointments, feel good moments, successes and failures. The Blazers continued this trend with their performance in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week as the green and gold outlasted SMU in the final minutes of the opening round of the Conference USA tournament pulling ahead by one to end the game 53-52.
SMU, a No. 12 seed in the tournament has had problems with No. 7 seed UAB for a number of seasons, but Wednesday it seemed as if the Mustangs would finally have their day. By most accounts, the game was ugly from start to finish. UAB shot only 35.4% from the field, but it was SMU’s 28.6% shooting that would ultimately give the Blazers the victory.
According to a report from UABsports.com, head coach Jerod Haase said, “This was an uncomfortable game and a lot of people watching probably thought it was an ugly game, and they couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
“This time of the year the common phrase is “survive and advance” and that’s exactly what we did.
It was not the prettiest game in the world and wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve played all year. But we made enough plays down the stretch, enough hustle plays and enough team plays to get it done.”
UAB was led by Jordan Swing who put up 17 points and 9 rebounds followed by Rod Rucker who chipped in 11 points and 7 boards to help the Blazers advance to the second round of the Tournament.
On Thursday, the Blazers set out to face Southern Miss, a team that has bested the Blazers twice this season already–once on the road in Hattiesburg, MS and, again, just a few weeks ago at Bartow Arena.
UAB was unable to keep up with the pace and size of Southern Miss who took a commanding lead to start the game. The Blazers struggled defensively the entire first half, unable to guard the Golden Eagles man to man or in a zone. Unable to box out, UAB struggled to grab 25 boards while Southern Miss pulled down a total of 37 rebounds and varied their shot selection in such a way that the Blazers were simply unable to keep up.
While they struggled to gain control of the game, a couple Blazers were able to make a dent in Southern Miss’ point total. Rod Rucker was able to put up 20 points while Preston Purifoy contributed 10 points to help close the gap the Golden Eagles created.
While UAB improved their shooting percentage from the game a day earlier, Southern Miss shot 52.7% from the floor, which made the biggest difference in the outcome of the game.
Going into the half Southern Miss was up 40-26, but the Blazers opened up after the break with a rally that brought the score within 7.
This was a close as UAB would get the rest of the way as the Golden Eagles continued to pick apart the Green and Gold’s defense, extending their lead to double digits, advancing to the conference semifinals with a solid 81-66 victory, and ultimately ending UAB’s season with an overall record of 16-17.
Senior Staff Writer