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March 2, 2013

UAB Tops SMU 74-69

BARTOW ARENA - Rod Rucker scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to lead UAB to a 74-69 come-from-behind win over SMU Saturday afternoon at Bartow Arena. Fahro Alihodzic tossed in 18 points to give UAB its fourth-straight win and a 15-14 overall record for the first time the team has held a winning record since early January.

SMU took a six-point lead at halftime, leading by 33-27, by scoring the final four points of the period. The Mustangs led for most of the period. UAB used a six-point run to take its first lead of the game, 16-14, with 9:58 remaining in the period. SMU regained the advantage with 6:24 remaining and UAB never gained control again.

UAB played 14 minutes of the first half without Jordan Swing, who was scoreless in the period. Swing sat on the bench for much of the period after picking up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game.

Two consecutive three-pointers by Quincy Taylor gave the Blazers another brief lead in the second period. The first trey tied the game, the second provided a 48-45 lead with 12:28 remaining.

Rucker and Alihodzic led the scoring, but they had help from Swing (11 points) and Rob Williams (11 points).

SMU also had four players in double-figures. Ryan Manuel led the team with 15 points. He was joined by Nick Russell (14 points), Shawn Williams (13), and Cannen Cunningham (12).

Referring to the early losing streak by the Blazers, Coach Jerod Haase noted that "If you had said that it would snow in March and that we'd have a four-game winning streak," nobody would have believed you."

Rucker was a major key to the game, despite getting off to a 0-for-4 start from the field. "Not a lot bothers him," Haase said after the game. "The more you get to know him as a kid, the more you like him."

Haase added that the junior forward was aggressive "when he eats breakfast, when he walks to the arena and when he gets on the court."

The win improved UAB's overall record to 15-14 and 7-7 in Conference USA. SMU dropped to 14-15 overall and 4-10 in conference play.

UAB next hosts UCF in its final home game of the season Wednesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm at Bartow Arena.


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