February 2, 2013

Southern Miss Edges UAB, 79-75

BARTOW ARENA - Southern Miss entered Saturday nights game with an unbeaten record in conference play. They left Bartow Arena the same way, taking a hard-fought 79-75 win with them. The Golden Eagles Neil Watson sparked their win with a game-high 24 points on a near-perfect night from the field - 7-for-7 from the field, 6-for-6 from three-point range, and 4-for-5 at the free-throw line.

It took UAB 13 seconds to score their first basket of the game for their only lead of the game. Unfortunately, Southern Miss scored the next seven. By the first media timeout, though, they had narrowed the margin to two points - 12-10. The Golden Eagles took control for the next four minutes with a 10-2 run for a 22-12 lead at the 11:51 mark.

The margin changed little over the next eight minutes. Southern Miss held a 35-26 lead at the 3:29 mark, boosted by a 70 percent shooting percentage (14-for-20) from the field while UAB was limited to 32 percent (8-for-25). By halftime, UAB cut the margin by a single point - 41-33.

UAB got the first three points of the second half, but Southern Miss remained hot. At he first media timeout, the Golden Eagles had increased their lead to 11 points - 49-38. Over the next four minutes, UAB was the only team to score, cutting the margin to 49-42.

UAB got a trey after the timeout, but Southern Miss reeled off seven straight points after that for a 56-45 lead with 10:19 remaining. UAB cut it back to 62-53 with 7:35 left in the game.

The Blazers had a slight advantage over the next five minutes, cutting the score to 71-65 with 2:32 remaining. UAB scored four quick points to make the score 71-69 with 1:39 remaining and prompting a timeout from the Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss got a trey out of the timeout, but Robert Williams matched that for UAB. That triggered another timeout from the Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss got the next four points, leading 78-72 with 23 seconds remaining in the game. The Blazers added a late three-pointer from Quincy Taylor, but that was the end of the scoring.

Jordan Swing came off the bench to lead UAB with 17 points. He was one of five Blazers in double figures, getting help from Taylor (15 points), Robert Williams (14), Fahro Alihodzic (12), and Preston Purifoy (10).

Southern Miss had four players in double-figures. Joining Watson in the group were Jerrold Brooks (16), Michael Craig (16), and Dwayne Davis (10).

Southern Miss was hot from the field all night, hitting 63.8 percent overall (30-of-47) and 58.8 percent (10-for-17) from three-point range. The Golden Eagles also won the rebound battle, with 30 to just 22 for the Blazers.

UAB wasn't as accurate, settling for 44 percent (23-of-53) overall and 42.4 percent (12-for-29) from beyond the arc. UAB stayed in the game by forcing 19 turnovers, while allowing a dozen themselves.

"I'm really proud of my team," coach Jerod Haase said after the game.

"I really thought when I played and Kansas and coached at Kansas and UNC, I thought the fans were knowledgeable," he added. "I think UAB fans are knowledgeable too."

UAB dropped to 9-13 overall, and 1-6 in Conference USA. Southern Miss improved to 18-4 overall, and 7-0 in conference play.

UAB next goes on the road to challenge Tulsa Wednesday night. The Blazers return to Bartow Arena next Saturday to host Marshall in a 2:00 p.m. game.

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