Dec. 15, 2013
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By: Steve Irvine, UABSports.com
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- The suspense ended about the same time that UAB’s sluggish play ended during the Blazers’ 84-62 victory over Georgia Southern on Sunday night at Bartow Arena.
In other words, UAB’s 26-0 run over the final 7:30 of the first half put a close to any hopes that the Eagles had of pulling an upset on the Blazers’ home floor. But, even with his team holding a 20-point halftime advantage, UAB head coach Jerod Haase chose to feature the game’s first 13 minutes during his locker room chat with his team at intermission.
“(I said) to learn from the first half,” Haase said when asked about his halftime message. “When we’re up big like this, you can’t come out flat again and allow them back into the game. Everything we do should be a lesson. We’ve got to learn from those things.”
UAB (8-2) was playing at home for the first time since beating nationally ranked North Carolina on Dec. 1 and the only game in between was a victory at Northeastern eight days ago. The Blazers played like a rusty team early on Sunday as they got outhustled by the smaller Eagles and couldn’t get into an offensive flow.
“Maybe the week off we had without playing a game,” said Jordan Swing when asked about the reason for the slow start. “It’s always tough going a whole week without playing a game. There’s really no excuse for it, though, we should have come out and been ready. We had two great practices going into it, we should have come out better than we did.”
Georgia Southern (5-6) led 21-15 after Brian Holmes hit a 3-pointer with 7:45 left in the first half. Chad Frazier countered with 3-pointer from the top of the key 15 seconds later to begin a dominating end to the first half. Frazier had 11 of the Blazers’ 26 unanswered points at the end of the half, including three free throws with 1.6 seconds on the clock, and Swing chipped in with seven points. But the work wasn’t done solely on the offensive end.
“The way we like to play is we like to get out in transition,” Haase said. “If you get defensive stops, it makes that get so much better. A team that is playing zone, they’re not always running to a man, they’re running back to a spot so we can attack in transition. It’s a whole lot easier attacking in transition getting steals and getting defensive rebounds when they miss a shot. Defensive stops lead to offensive baskets.”
UAB scored the first two points of the second half – extending the run to 28-0 – before Georgia Southern ended the run with a three-point play by Marvin Baynham. The Eagles also scored five of the next seven points before UAB’s 8-0 spurt that included four points by Robert Williams and a nifty behind-the-back pass by Swing that led to an open 12-footer by C.J. Washington.
“When I yell at them enough they seem to respond pretty well and they did,” Haase said. “I think we changed the lineups throughout the game. The guys that were in there gave us a spark and the guys that came in sustained it.”
Frazier led UAB with 19 points, hitting 6-of-8 shots from the field, 2-of-3 on 3-pointers and all five of his free throws, and added six assists. Swing had 12 points, five assists, five rebounds and four steals and Williams had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists. Rod Rucker had a team-high 11 rebounds to help the Blazers win the battle of the boards, 47-38.