UAB Hosts Coastal Carolina Tuesday Night In NIT First Round

UABSPORTS.COM Junior guard Aaron Johnson earned Conference USA third team and all-defensive team accolades.
UABSPORTS.COM
Junior guard Aaron Johnson earned Conference USA third team and all-defensive team accolades.
UABSPORTS.COM

March 15, 2010

UAB-Coastal Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Gametracker

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The UAB men's basketball team is set to host its first postseason home game since 2003, when the Blazers take on Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night in the opening round of the 2010 National Invitation Tournament. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Bartow Arena.

The Blazers earned a No. 2 seed in the Mississippi State region and will take on the seventh-seeded Chanticleers. The two teams will meet for the first time in series history.

Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased by going online (uabsports.com/tickets) or by calling the UAB ticket office at 205-975-8221. All reserve seats (lower and upper sections) will cost $15 per ticket.

UAB enters the 2010 National Invitation Tournament with an overall record of 23-8. The Blazers earned the No. 2 seed in this year's tournament, which marks the third consecutive year and the seventh time over the last eight seasons that UAB has earned a trip to either the NCAA Tournament or NIT.

The Blazers are carrying a season-long, three-game losing streak entering this year's NIT. UAB's most recent setback came in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament when it dropped a 58-44 decision to Southern Miss. The Blazers were led by junior guard Jamarr Sanders' 10 points, while junior Elijah Millsap added seven points and a team-high eight rebounds in the losing effort.

The Blazers continue to be led by Millsap, a first-team all-conference performer, who leads the team in scoring (15.7 ppg), rebounding (9.4 rpg), steals (1.6 spg) and free throws made (152) and attempted (217). He also ranks in sole possession of second place of single-season double-doubles with 15 on the year. That number not only leads the league, but ranks 24th nationally. Additionally, he is the only guard ranked among the top-35 rebounders in the nation, coming in at 33rd nationally. The Louisiana-Lafayette transfer has led the Blazers in scoring and/or rebounding in 26 of their 31 games this season.

Senior forward Howard Crawford is second on the team with 12.0 points per contest, while Sanders adds 10.4 ppg and leads the team in three-pointers made (63) and attempted (169). Junior guard Aaron Johnson, who earned a spot on the C-USA third team and all-defensive squad, collects 9.9 points per game and leads the team and ranks third in the conference with 4.9 assists per game.

As a team, the Blazers are shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 31.4 percent from beyond the arc this year. UAB also boasts a +4.8 advantage on the boards (36.5-31.7). Furthermore, the Blazers hold the opposition to 61.0 points a game, which is second in C-USA and ranks 27th nationally (as of 3/14), and have held 23 of their 31 opponents to 66 points or below.

Head coach Mike Davis is in his fourth season at the helm of the UAB basketball program and his 10th season as a head coach. He boasts a record of 83-47 (.638) at UAB and a 198-126 (.611) mark overall. He now owns a record of 68-31 (.687) over his last three seasons in Birmingham.

Coastal Carolina will make its first postseason appearance since 1993 and its third overall as a Division I member when it takes the floor at Bartow Arena in the opening round of the 2010 National Invitation Tournament Tuesday night. The Chanticleers captured the Big South regular season title after finishing the year with a 28-6 overall record and a 15-3 mark in league play. Coastal Carolina hosted the 2010 Big South Tournament where it reached the championship game, before falling to Winthrop, 64-53.

The Chanticleers are led by first-team All-Big South performers senior forward Joseph Harris and junior forward Chad Gray. Harris has been a monster this season, leading the team and with 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He has recorded 16 double-doubles on the year and also leads the squad in field goal percentage at 52.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Gray is equally as impressive with 14.4 points to go along with 4.8 rebounds per contest. He is second on the team in field goal percentage, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor.

Senior guard Mario Edwards is the third player to average double-figures at 12.1 points per contest and leads the team in three point shooting (39.6 percent), marking 55-of-139 shots from deep. Freshman guard Kierre Greenwood leads the team with 3.3 assists per game, while also contributing 9.1 points a contest.

As a team, the Chanticleers have put up some impressive numbers on the year, as they outscore their competition by 14.6 points a game (74.6-59.9), which ranks fifth-best in the country. Coastal Carolina ranks second in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.6 percent), are sixth among the NCAA in field goal percentage defense (38.1 percent) and 14th in the country in scoring defense (59.9). Furthermore, the Chanticleers own a +6.2 advantage on the glass (39.7-33.5), which is 17th-best in the nation, and their 48.0 percent shooting from the floor also ranks No. 17 in the country.

Former Auburn, Clemson and South Alabama head coach Cliff Ellis will make a return to Birmingham, which marks his first trip to Alabama since becoming the head coach at Coastal Carolina three years ago. This is also Ellis' 20th postseason tournament appearance with his fourth different team. He owns an overall record of 634-390 (.619) during his 34 seasons as a head coach, while he owns a 52-41 (.559) record in three seasons at Coastal Carolina.

National Invitation Tournament Notes
• This marks the third straight season the UAB men's basketball team has made an appearance in the NIT. It is the first time in school history the Blazers have made three consecutive NITs.
• UAB has an all-time record of 12-10 in its previous 10 NIT appearances.
• Despite making their 11th NIT showing, this marks the just the fifth time UAB has played host to an opposing team in the event. The Blazers are a perfect 4-0 in home games in the NIT, with the last contest coming on March 19, 2003 when they defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 82-80.
• This marks the third time UAB head coach Mike Davis has led the Blazers to an NIT, and it is his fourth appearance in the event as a head coach. Davis owns an all-time record of 1-2 in NIT games at UAB, and is 1-3 in such games during his 10-year coaching career.
• UAB has won 31 consecutive non-conference games at Bartow Arena dating back to a 92-76 loss to Western Kentucky on Nov. 29, 2005. This marks the first time UAB has played a postseason home game during the current streak.

UAB Earns 11th NIT Appearance In School History
With this year's invitation, UAB is making its third straight National Invitation Tournament appearance and 11th showing in school history. The No. 2 seeded Blazers will take on the No. 7 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Tuesday night in the opening round of this year's event. The winner of that contest will take on the winner of No. 3 seed USF and No. 6 seed NC State in the round of 16 at a time and date to be determined. It marks the first time the two teams have met on the hardwood.

Blazers Have 12-10 Record In NIT
Following the Blazers' 0-1 record in the 2009 NIT, UAB has a 12-10 (.545) record in all-time games played in its previous 10 NIT appearances. Twice - in 1989 and 1993 - the Blazers have advanced to the NIT Final Four in New York. On both occasions, UAB was defeated in the NIT semifinals, but came back to win the third-place contest.

NIT Final Four Twice For Blazers
UAB has twice won three games in the NIT to advance to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden. In 1989, UAB advanced to the semifinals in New York where they lost to St. John's (76-65) before coming back to defeat Michigan State (78-76) in the third place game. Then, in 1993, the Blazers also reached the NIT semifinals, falling to Georgetown (45-41). Again, UAB rebounded to win the third place contest, defeating Providence by a 55-52 score for third place overall.

UAB Earns 11th NIT Appearance, 24th Postseason Appearance
UAB is making its 11th NIT appearance in school history when it takes the court against Coastal Carolina in Birmingham, Ala. on Tuesday night. Combined with 13 NCAA Tournaments appearances in school history, the Blazers have recorded 24 overall postseason appearances in the 32 years of the men's basketball program.

UAB Hosting For Fifth Time In School History
The UAB men's basketball team has played 22 NIT games in school history; however, Tuesday night's home game against Coastal Carolina in the 2010 opening round will mark just the fifth time in 23 postseason NIT games that the Blazers have hosted such a contest. Hosting an NIT game has been a good thing in the past, as UAB is a perfect 4-0 in postseason NIT contests played in Bartow Arena. The last time the Blazers hosted an NIT contest came on March 19, 2003 when they defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 82-80. The Blazers hosted back-to-back games in 1993 vs. Clemson (won 65-64 on 3/22/93 when Cliff Ellis was the Tigers' head coach) and vs. SW Missouri State (won 61-52 on 3/24/93). The Blazers hosted their first postseason NIT game on March 16, 1989 when they defeated Georgia Southern, 83-74.