Jan. 22, 2010
Well, well, well. Just a routine trip to Dallas over the weekend...no big deal...SMU winless in the conference...piece of cake. Or not. Folks (me included) were STILL talking on Wednesday night about the remarkable comeback win over the Mustangs last Saturday. Yes, we are all supposed to move on and get ready for the next game, but when you've witnessed history...and you are still having a hard time believing what you saw...it can be tough to move forward. If you weren't with us (in person or on the radio) for the SMU game, here's a recap: Quick start...then SMU zone defense caused UAB to take 345 three-point attempts in the first half...made none...down 14 at the break...got down 24 with 12+ minutes remaining...and won.
That may be oversimplifying things a little, but you get the point. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and it sure was a lot of fun! Credit the Green and Gold for never giving up...continuing to fight...and finishing the comeback. So many times we see teams come roaring back...get close, tie, or even maybe take the lead, then run out of gas. Not the Blazers. Mike Davis' team turned it up on defense, knocked down some big shots, and in doing so, claimed the greatest comeback victory in school history. In fact, the Blazers' comeback was the 13th-biggest in recorded NCAA basketball history, and it was the second-biggest in Conference USA record books. Charlotte came from 26 down to beat Tennessee...hate I missed that.
So, as we were all still shaking our heads on Wednesday night at Bartow Arena, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles flew into town. Little did the fans realize they would get an encore performance of the show put on in Dallas...the good and the bad! Larry Eustachy's team was also struggling at 0-3 in C-USA. One reason was a brutal schedule. Another was poor shooting. USM found the Bartow Arena rims much more to their liking, especially in the first half. Again, the Blazers settled for a lot of three-point attempts...again, they didn't make many...only one, to be exact. The Green and Gold trailed by seven at halftime, and the Southern Miss lead quickly grew to double digits early in the second half.
This time, though, UAB only had to overcome a 14-point deficit. They followed the same story line as the one in Dallas...good, aggressive defense...hit a few open shots...and never, never quit. I have to be honest. It's a little hard for me to say which game was more "exciting." A 24-point comeback is certainly more impressive than a 14-point comeback, but when the 14-pointer comes at home, in front of another vocal crowd of Blazer fans, I have to lean to the latest one as the most enjoyable. Aaron Johnson's go-ahead bucket with five seconds left caused an eruption at Bartow Arena...another one came seconds later when UAB made one last defensive stand to preserve the win.
Now, I love winning, and I truly don't care what the score is when the game is over...as long as the Blazers are on the correct end of it. BUT, I really would like to live a long, full life...and at this rate, that's not going to happen!
Things won't get any easier this weekend when UAB heads to Marshall for a match-up of league leaders. The Thundering Herd is also 4-0 in C-USA, and MU is playing some good basketball. The Herd lost a tough one to in-state rival West Virginia in Charleston on Wednesday, but Donnie Jones team is much improved. Marshall can score (81 points a game), and the Cam Henderson Center has proven to be a tough building for the Blazers. This Saturday's meeting is the first of two scheduled in the regular season, and it would be mighty nice to steal another win on the road. Tip time is 6 PM central, and we're on with pre-game starting at 5:30 PM. CSS will televise the game...no doubt hoping the Blazers can produce more drama!
A few other thoughts before I call it a week...
How about the UAB basketball programs? The women are the only unbeaten team remaining in Conference USA, and neither squad has lost here in 2010! Best of luck to coach Smith on Sunday afternoon when Houston comes to town for a 4 PM tip...
Tuesday night's game with Tulsa will be HUGE. The Golden Hurricane was picked by many to win the league, and UAB will play host to the only meeting of the year between the squads. The Blazers are undefeated at home this season, but Tuesday night will be a challenge, to say the least. Tuesday will also offer fans the chance to help in the Haitian relief efforts. Anyone who brings baby formula (preferred) or any food item will receive a ticket to the game for just $6. PLEASE come support the Blazers, who could well be playing for first place in Conference USA, and support the relief effort in Haiti with your food/baby formula donation...
Last thing, those watching online or listening to the SMU game may have seen or heard the "flare up" following the game. In a nutshell, the Mustangs lined up in the jump circle to pray or sing their alma mater...after a gut-wrenching defeat. The Blazers were somewhere near the free throw line opposite our broadcast location celebrating the amazing victory...as any team would. SMU coach Matt Doherty took offense to the celebration and made his displeasure known to Mike Davis. The coaches had an exchange...players were separated...SMU went to the locker room...UAB went to the locker room...end of story. It's hard to fault a team for being excited about a win like that...it's hard to fault a team for being upset at losing a game like that. I don't think there was any disrespect intended in the celebration, and coach Davis apologized on air for the incident. Bottom line...go to the locker room to celebrate if you're UAB...don't lose a 24-point lead at home if you're Matt Doherty.
Have a great weekend...see you for TWO home games next week...and GO BLAZERS!!!