Nov. 15, 2009
KENT, Ohio - Behind the play of senior forward Howard Crawford and freshman guard Dexter Fields, the UAB men's basketball team used a second half comeback to defeat crosstown foe Samford, 55-52, in the final game of the Hispanic College Fund Classic.
For their efforts, Crawford and junior guard Elijah Millsap were named to the all-tournament team.
The contest marked just the fourth time the Blazers (2-1) and Bulldogs (0-3) have done battle on the hardwood, with UAB winning all four contests. It was the first meeting between the two teams since 1983.
"Samford is a very tough team to play and one of the best coached teams in the country," UAB head coach Mike Davis said. "The know the system and it's just hard to play against that type of team, especially when you only have 24 hours to prepare for them. I thought our guys did a great job. I thought they got tired in the second half and missed some shots that they would normally make."
The contest was a tale of two halves as Samford held a 30-23 lead at the half. But the UAB defense held the Bulldogs to just five second half field goals and no three-pointers (0-for-12) on its way to outscoring Samford, 32-22, over the final 20 minutes.
Crawford scored all 12 of his points in the second half, while Fields, who connected on 4-of-7 three-pointers, collected nine of his 12 points in the final 20 minutes. The duo combined for 21 of UAB's 32 second-half point total.
"Howard is going to be our go-to guy," Davis said. "He is going to be a guy that we expect to make some plays for us offensively. It is a role he is not used to, so some games it may take him a while to get going. Hopefully it is a role that he will accept and embrace for us."
From that point, the lead changed back-and-forth five times. With Samford clinging to a 52-50 lead with just under three minutes to go in regulation, Fields connected on a crucial three-pointer with two men in his face to give the Blazers the lead for good.
A backdoor cut and layup by Millsap with 34 seconds left gave the Blazers a three-point edge. But the Bulldogs would eventually have three tries from beyond the arc to tie the game, as UAB went 0-for-3 from the charity stripe and could not seal the game.
Millsap finished the contest with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while also chipping in a team-best four assists and two steals. The UAB bench outscored Samford's reserves, 21-3, and the Blazers also had an 11-2 advantage in second chance points.
UAB will next be in action on Tuesday when it plays its fourth-straight game away from Bartow Arena. The Blazers will travel to take on in-state foe Jacksonville State on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The contest can be heard live on WUHT 107.7 FM with David Crane, Steve Mitchell and Jon Gentile on the call.