January 2, 2013
UAB Edges Georgia Southern, 65-61
BARTOW ARENA - Terrence Jones scored a team-high 19 points to lead UAB to a 65-61, hard-fought win over Georgia Southern Wednesday night at Bartow Arena. The win improved the Blazer record to 8-6 on the season with one game remaining before the beginning of Conference USA play.
UAB scored the first four points on easy lay-ins, but Georgia Southern used a trey from C. J. Reed to take a 9-8 lead with 15:10 remaining in the first half. They increased that lead to 13-9 before Robert Williams stopped the run with a pair of free throws.
A lay-up by Fahro Alihodzic tied the score at 13-13 with 9:58 remaining in the period. A trey by Eric Ferguson gave the Eagles the lead again, but UAB got another lay-up to cut the margin to 16-15 with 7:43 remaining in the half.
A free throw from Terrence Jones tied the game, and UAB regained the lead with a short jumper from Rod Rucker with six minutes remaining. The Blazers were able to maintain a slight margin and finished the half leading by 25-22.
UAB opened the second half with a 9-2 run for a 34-24 lead. The Eagles responded with a 7-2 run to cut the score back 36-31.
The next four minutes was mostly an exchange of baskets, with UAB holding a 42-39 lead with 7:52 remaining in the game. They increased the lead by a point, 50-44, with five minutes remaining.
That same seven-point lead was there, 59-52, when UAB called timeout with 1:04 remaining. A free throw plus a trey quickly cut the margin to 59-56.
But Terrence Jones stepped in which a short jumper, Preston Purifoy got a key rebound and was fouled, and Purifoy's two free-throws sealed the game 63-55 with 17 seconds remaining.
Georgia Southern started fouling and cut the score to 64-61 on a trey by C.J. Reid with 3.7 seconds remaining. Terrence Jones hit a free throw for the 65-61 final score.
Jones not only led the team in scoring but also scored his 1,000th career point in the game. "The coach put the ball in my hands and said, "Make it happen," Jones said.
"I've seen it all before," he added. ". . . I know what it takes to win."
Jones was joined in double figures by two other Blazers, Rod Rucker (16) and Fahro Alihodzic (12).
Reid led Georgia Southern with 22 points. He was joined in double figures by Tre Bussey with 17 and Eric Ferguson with 12.
"I'm really excited about our team," Coach Jerod Haase said after the game. "Tonight was a fight and a struggle and we didn't quit."
"My feelings are off the chart," Haase added. "I told the team in the locker room, 'It's not always suppose to be easy."
Rod Rucker blamed the low score on the first half on lack of aggressiveness. "The first half we weren't aggressive enough," he said. "We were timid on offense."
UAB won the game despite a hot night from the field for the Eagles. Georgia Southern hit 50 percent for the game, and 66.7 percent in the second half. The Eagles were also hot from three-point range, hitting five of their six attempts for a rate of 83.3 percent.
Georgia Southern also won the rebounding battle, grabbing 36 to 30 for UAB. UAB had the edge in turnovers, forcing 23 while making only 13 themselves.
The Blazers improved to 8-6 on the season, while Georgia Southern dropped to 6-8.
UAB next goes on the road to play Dayton in Dayton, Ohio Saturday. That's followed by the Conference USA opener against UCF in Orlando next Wednesday.
The Blazers return to Bartow Arena for their home C-USA opener on Saturday, January 10.
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