November 3, 2013

UAB Opens Basketball Season with Exhibition Win

UAB opened its 2013-14 basketball season with an 89-68 win over Milligan College in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon at Bartow Arena. The game saw the starting debut of two new players for the Blazer starting five, C. J. Washington and Chad Frazier.

UAB jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead, thanks to seven points in less than four minutes by newcomer Washington. The teams started trading baskets after that, with UAB holding a 30-23 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

UAB took control after that, building up a 48-35 halftime lead. Washington ended the half with 19 first-half points.

UAB increased the lead to 54-39 in the first four minutes of the second half. Milligan followed with a 7-2 run that cut the lead to 56-46 with 13 minutes remaining in the game.

That brief run wasn't enough for Milligan. The Blazers finished with an 89-68 win. As forward Rod Rucker noted, "We broke the game open in the middle of the second half."

Washington led all scorers with 23 points in his first game as a Blazer. "He has a good feel for the game," Coach Jerod Haase said of his new player.

Washington was joined in double figures for UAB by Fahro Alihodzic and Rob Williams with 10 points each. Williams recorded a double-double by also grabbing ten rebounds.

Jordan Swing, a leading scorer on last season's team, finished with eight points. Rucker also scored eight points and led the rebounding corps with 13.

New point guard Chad Frazier finished with nine points and six assists.

Milligan had three players in double figures. Mike Woods led the trio with 17 points, Morgan McLeod added 14, while Cartee Pettis tossed in 12.

There seemed to be more depth than last season. Eleven Blazers got into the game, but the starting five saw most of the action.

There were still some rough edges. That included free throws, where the Blazers hit only 58 percent (15-of-26) and turnovers (13).

"It's an exhibition game for a reason," Haase said after the game. He attributed the mistakes to the team being anxious and careless. "We've had great practices," Haase added, "but that did not carry over to the game."

Haase is still optimistic about his team. "Our attitude is fantastic," he said.

And returning veteran Rucker sees improvement in the depth of the team. "We can play harder because we know somebody can come off the bench," he said.

The win over Milligan means the one-game exhibition season is over. The Blazers return to the court for real on Friday, November 8, to host Columbus State in the first regular season game for the year. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Bartow Arena.

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