UAB freshman Denzell Watts
March 6, 2014
UAB honored seniors Jordan Swing, Robert Williams, Preston Purifoy, Rod Rucker and Fahro Alihodzic and graduate student Karl Moton in a pregame ceremony before Thursday regular-season ending 55-53 Conference USA loss to Middle Tennessee at Bartow Arena.
UAB head coach Jerod Haase started the five seniors, which meant that junior guard Chad Frazier wasn’t in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Rucker played 34 minutes, which was the most for a UAB player, and contributed 15 points, eight rebound and two assists.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Rucker said. “It feels good to go out there one last time and fight with my team. We tried to compete to win. The hard part is that this my last home game and I have to leave on this note. Inside is this joy, you know, and I know I’m going to shed tears of pain, but I’m always going to be a Blazer.
Purifoy had perhaps his best game of the season in his final home appearance. The 6-foot-5 swingman played a season-high 22 minutes and tied a season-high with nine points. He had two 3-pointers and added four rebounds.
Williams had five points, three rebounds, an assist and two steals. He finishes his final regular season with 576 career rebounds, which is 10th best in school history. He is four rebounds shy of tying Chris Giles for ninth place.
*UAB nearly foiled the Blue Raiders’ game-winning shot long before it happened. Swing and Rucker nearly forced a turnover just past midcourt early in the possession but Middle Tennessee’s Neiko Hunter was able to get the ball back.
“They did a good job and they kind of hemmed us up right there and Nico had to make kind of a 50-50 play and get it back,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Kermit Davis.
*Chad Frazier’s team-high 16 points marked the 17th time this season that he’s led the Blazers in scoring. He scored in double digits in 28 of 30 games this season, including the most recent 14 games.