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Men’s Basketball cruise past Troy, 81-69
Coming off of a great win against Rutgers, the Blazers cruised to their third straight win to open the season in Birmingham.
Head coach Jerod Haase said that he’s “certainly pleased with the win and three games in seven days at home was a good start to the season. Getting three wins to start the season is obviously a very positive thing.”
The Blazers lead from start to finish against the overmatched Troy Trojans en route to an 81-69 victory.
The Blazers play wasn’t perfect. Senior Guard Robert Williams said, “We didn’t play up to our full potential, but we got the job done. It wasn’t good enough.” He continued, “We felt like we had an ebb and flow to the game. We could never get into a rhythm. We have to go back look in the film and correct that before we go into the tournament.”
The Green and Gold’s play was a bit sloppy as they turned the ball over 20 times, 14 in the first half. Haase said, “As a coach, I always have my frustrations. A few more this game than last game, but there were a lot of positives: rebound numbers were good, field goal percentage was good, but the turnovers and stuff was just a lack effort and a lack of concentration that is something that needs to be addressed.”
The dominant rebounding more than made up for turnovers as UAB grabbed 53 rebounds to Troy’s 24. The Blazers have been dominant on the boards all season. Holding a 154-92 advantage on the glass so far this season, averaging 51 boards per contest this season ranks Haase’s squad 5th in the nation. Junior C.J. Washington said, “Every night should be a big night on the boards for us since we are so big all the way around with Rod Rucker, Fahro Alihodzic, Robert Williams and I on the glass. We should all have at least 8 rebounds a night.”
Washington grabbed 10 rebounds against Troy adding 25 points, one steal, one assist and one huge block, on his way to his second straight double-double of the season. “[Washington] was really good, shooting 11-14 as a coach I need to give him more shot.” Haase added, “When the ball hits his hands usually good things are happening. Tonight, he had a really good game.”
Alihodzic also added a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards which makes it his second straight as well.
The Blazers jumped out to an early lead, 32-15 with just 6:23 left in the first half of action, before the Trojans fought their way back, scraping and clawing as the UAB lead dwindled to 6 with two minutes left in the first frame. “This Troy team has a new coach; they look a little looser, the run a different offense with a different style of play.” Williams said about the instate squad, “They have good shooters and they came out with a lot of intensity and fight today.”
Troy would never get any closer as the Blazers pulled away in the second half. Coming off a big win in the annual Gene Bartow Classic, a drop off was to be expected playing the over powered Troy team. The captain of the Blazers Robert Williams said about his teams problems late in the first half, “[Our biggest problem was] on the defensive end, and our lack of energy. We came out real flat tonight and it was like that for basically the whole game. There never was a moment where we had the energy and the momentum. A win is a win and we will accept this one.”
Every game has its battle and Haase’s squad has started off the season a perfect 3-0.
The Blazers had a few highlights from this game one of which would be shooting 94% from the charity stripe. Also draining 4-8 from beyond the arc in the first half, and shooting 38.5% for the game. The Blazers could be a tough team to beat if they can start eliminating the turnovers and keep the shooting percentages and rebounding numbers this high.
With height and athleticism at every position and the offense getting more fluid every game by the time for conference play UAB could be one of the teams to beat in the C-USA.
UAB will face its toughest test of the season as they take on the 22nd ranked New Mexico Lobos. The game will be televised on ESPNU and WatchESPN. They will meet up in the Charleston Classic in South Carolina on Thursday, November 21. The Lobos are currently ranked 10th (as of Sunday, November 17) in the country in rebounding so they will challenge just how good of a rebounding team the Green and Gold are this year.
The Charleston Classic will gauge the caliber of the Blazers this year as the tournament will host teams such as: UMass 3-0 with a win over LSU; Nebraska 3-0 and have won by 15 or more every game this season; Georgia 1-1; Davidson 0-3; Temple 1-2; and Clemson 1-1. The tournament hosts 4 undefeated teams including UAB. Tournament action begins on Thursday, November 21, at 3ET on ESPNU when UAB takes on New Mexico with the championship set for Sunday November 24, on ESPN2 at 9 ET.