BIRMINGHAM – The UAB men’s basketball team dominated in the second half to blow past FIU 84-56 on Thursday night in Bartow Arena.
Facing a 24-13 deficit with 9:58 remaining in the first half, the Blazers caught fire following a 30-second timeout, going on an 18-3 run over the next six minutes to flip an 11-point deficit into a five-point UAB lead when Jamal Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws. UAB scored the first half’s final bucket when KJ Buffen knocked down a jumper in the paint with 20 seconds remaining, giving the Blazers a 38-34 lead at the break.
UAB (14-4, 4-1 C-USA) shut down the Panthers in the game’s final 20 minutes, limiting FIU (10-6, 0-3 C-USA) to just 22 points in the second half. After FIU scored the half’s opening bucket, a 3-pointer from Jordan Walker sparked a 15-0 run to turn a 38-36 lead into a 53-36 advantage with 15:46 remaining in the game.
In just over 10 minutes of game action, the Blazers scored 33 of the second half’s first 41 points, opening a 71-42 lead when Michael Ertel drilled a 3-pointer via an excellent pass out of the post from center Trey Jemison. UAB’s lead reached as many as 32 points three times in the game’s closing minutes. The Blazers’ 28-point margin of victory tied their largest margin of victory over a Conference USA opponent this season.
“I thought early we were really tentative and that FIU got us on our heels,” head coach Andy Kennedy said. “Once we woke up a little bit, the last 30 minutes of the game we outscored them by 37.
“FIU is a team that can certainly put together points, so I’m pleased with our effort from that moment forward. We did a much better job with our ball screen defense, and everybody that got in the game contributed offensively. It was a good night for the home team.”
The Blazers dominated on the glass on both sides of the court, posting a 45-31 advantage in total rebounds and a 21-11 advantage in second-chance points. UAB is 10-0 this season when it outrebounds its opponent.
Buffen paced the Blazers on the offensive glass with six offensive rebounds. The Gainesville, Georgia native finished Thursday’s game with his fourth double-double of the season, tallying 12 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
Josh LeBlanc, Sr. and Jemison made a strong impact on the glass, recording seven rebounds apiece. LeBlanc, Sr. also added eight points, a block and a steal in 20 minutes off the bench.
Jordan Walker scored 11 of his 20 points in the second half, finishing with a season-high six 3-pointers made. Walker has now scored 17 or more points in four straight games.
UAB’s 46-22 advantage in scoring in the final 20 minutes marked the eighth time the Blazers have outscored an opponent by double digits in the second half. The Blazers are a perfect 11-0 in Bartow Arena this season, winning each contest by 13 points or more. UAB’s bounce-back victory also made them 9-1 following a loss in the Andy Kennedy era.
FIU’s Tevin Brewer and Denver Jones tied for a team-high 17 points in Thursday’s loss to the Blazers. Clevon Brown tied Buffen for a game-high three blocks.
UAB will close out its brief two-game home stand Saturday when Florida Atlantic heads to Bartow Arena. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. and will stream live on ESPN+.
MEN’S BASKETBALL TICKET INFORMATION
UAB men’s basketball single-game tickets start as low as $12 and can be purchased by clicking here or calling the UAB Athletics Ticket Office at (205) 975-UAB1.
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