BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UAB ATHLETICS) It was by no means pretty, but the UAB men’s basketball team did what it had to do to get a positive result on Thursday night, doubling its offensive output in the second half to pull away from Morehouse College, 75-54, in its final tune-up of the season.
Coming out of halftime ahead 25-18, the Blazers stormed out of the gate with a 16-0 run in the opening 4:44 of the second period to power a 50-point half and clinch a 21-point victory.
“I thought the way we fought back in the second half says a lot about our team,” head coach Robert Ehsan said. “We did not get a lot going in the first 20 minutes, but I think we proved how dangerous we can be on the offensive side of the ball in that second period. “Defensively, I thought we played another solid game. We still have a lot to work on, but I am pleased with the overall effort tonight as we now look ahead to Mercer.”
Newcomer Jude Akabueze, who made his debut in the Green and Gold during the contest, led all scorers with 13 points in 12 minutes off the bench. Jalen Perry added 12 points of his own against the Maroon Tigers, while senior Lewis Sullivan went for a double-double with 11 points and a game-best 13 rebounds to round out UAB’s double-figure performers.
Zack Bryant added nine points, five rebounds and a team-high three assists in 27 minutes of play. Will Butler matched Bryant’s rebound total with five and added eight points of his own.
It was a tale of two halves shooting the ball for the Blazers, who finished the game 38.0 percent (27-of-71) from the floor, hitting 51.3 percent (20-of-39) of their shots in the second half after netting just 21.9 percent in the first stanza.
The defense once again came to play, forcing 15 Maroon Tiger turnovers, recording six steals and swatting four shots. Bryant led the charge on that front, swiping the ball three times in the game.
Morehouse was led by Keyshaun Jacobs, who finished the game with 12 points, the team’s only double-figure performer.
It was a sluggish first half from both teams, who went a combined 14-of-57 from the field. UAB created a little space late in the half, using a 7-3 run over the final 3:44 to take a 25-18 lead into the locker room.
The second half was a complete 180 from the first. Perry got the scoring started 41 seconds in the half, driving hard into the paint and drawing the foul for the old-fashioned three-point play, jumpstarting a 16-0 run that put UAB ahead, 41-18.
The Blazers saw another big run with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, scoring eight unanswered points to take its largest lead of the night, 64-30, following a made layup from Butler.
Morehouse attempted a comeback, scoring nine-straight points in the final minutes of the game to cut the Blazer lead to 73-52. However, the damage had already been done as UAB rode out the final minute of play to clinch the 75-54 exhibition victory.
UAB opens the 2018-19 regular season on Tuesday, November 6, when it welcomes Mercer to Bartow Arena. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. on CUSA.tv.