November 3, 2012

UAB Tops North Alabama in Exhibition Play

BARTOW ARENA - It took a few minutes for the new UAB basketball team to get started in its game, an exhibition tilt against North Alabama Saturday afternoon. However, after briefly trailing 10-9, Jerod Haase's new version of the Blazers turned up the heat and built up a 29-18 lead with 7:39 remaining in the first half.

From there, the Blazers put together a 48-32 halftime lead. In the second half, the Blazers coasted for a while, letting UNA cut the lead to 11 points before they turned up the heat and finished with a 98-81 win

UAB had four players in double figures, led by newcomer guard Terrence Jones with 20. Newcomer Rod Rucker, who was also impressive in his UAB debut, added 19. Rob Williams and Jordan Swing tallied 14 each.

UNA also had four players in double figures. Wes Long led the team with 20 points. Marquel Darrington and Bruce Adams tossed in 16 each, while Rashaun Claiborne added 10.

Junior college transfer Fahro Alihodzic started at center for UAB and scored four points. However, he seemed tentative in his first start, particularly in the first half, and hit only two-of-eight shots for the night. Haase attributed the slow start to a back injury, from which Alihodzic was still recovering. When fully recovered, Haase said, Alihoczic "will be a valuable player."

UAB had a double-digit advantage in rebounding over UNA, 46-29, but the Blazers also committed 22 turnovers. Haase said the turnovers were "too many," adding that the team had "a lot of work to do."

He was pleased with the effort, though, and happy to see that the players had bought into his style of fast play.

The players also seemed satisfied with their first game under Haase. "We didn't do as well as we should on offense," Swing said after the game, "but we still scored 98 points."

Terrence Jones said the team had to learn to play forty minutes, adding that they took UNA for granted late in the game. "Late in the game, we can't just give up," he said.

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