Nov. 27, 2013
PDF Final Box | UAB Postgame Notes | Postgame Quotes
By Steve Irvine, UABSports.com
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- Preston Purifoy’s contribution to UAB’s 85-73 victory over Florida A&M on Wednesday wasn’t limited to the two 3-pointers that the senior swingman knocked down in the opening half. But those two long-range jumpers sure were a welcome sight for Purifoy.
“It felt real good to get back out there,” Purifoy said. “I had a minor injury with my hand and it was hard for me to shoot. Just to get my confidence back up, it felt great.”
The 6-foot-5 Purifoy tore ligaments in a thumb during UAB’s (5-2) regular-season opening victory over Columbus State. He didn’t miss any games but his minutes were limited and shooting the ball was difficult. Purifoy, who wore a bandage on his hand because of the injury, entered Wednesday’s game 0-for-3 on 3-pointers and 1-of-7 overall from the field.
“It was pretty frustrating but I knew that if I came in, I just had to bring the intensity somewhere else,” said Purifoy, who had 109 3-pointers in his first three seasons at UAB. “My teammates, they had my back, and they were playing great without me.”
Purifoy, who played without the bandage for the first time since the injury, joined the party on Wednesday. He played a season-high 15 minutes, was 3-of-4 overall from the field and scored nine points. He also contributed an assist, two rebounds and some energy on the defensive end.
“He’s an important part,” said UAB head coach Jerod Haase. “He’s an experienced leader on the team and has the ability to shoot the basketball and the ability to bring some energy. Like everybody on the team, they need to play well. We do have a deeper bench that we can go to and if you’re struggling or not playing well or not bringing the effort or energy it will be hard for you to be out there.”
Haase was frustrated a bit with his team during Wednesday’s sluggish win over the Rattlers (1-5). The Blazers didn’t trail after the 18:27 mark in the first half but also never really got into a rhythm. Part of the problem was UAB’s performance at the free throw line. The Blazers hit 29-of-49 from the stripe, which was a season-low 59.2 percent.
“If we made a little higher free throw percentage, the game would have opened up a little bit,” Haase said. “We got to the line a lot, we just didn’t convert. Defensively, I was a little discouraged. It was hard to keep them out of the paint.”
As usual, though, UAB had a balanced offense and won the battle of the boards. C.J. Washington had a game-high 20 points and shared team-high rebounding honors with Rod Rucker at 8. Rucker chipped in with 17 points, Chad Frazier had 17 points and six assists and Robert Williams had 14 points.
The Blazers led 44-33 at halftime but saw the lead trimmed to six points – 51-45 – with 14:23 left. UAB responded quickly with an 8-0 run that began with Washington’s three-point play and conclude with a 17-foot jumper by Fahro Alihodzic with 12:06 left to play. The Rattlers never really threatened the rest of the way.
“I didn’t think we played a great basketball game but we did grind, we did respond,” said Haase. “When they made a little run at us, we made a run back at them.”
UAB now hosts No. 16 North Carolina on Sunday at 5 p.m. CST.