BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Debuting a roster featuring five returnees, two redshirts, and six offseason additions, Jacksonville University fought valiantly Friday in an effort short-handed by injury. With three Dolphins sitting out of the game, JU fell to UAB 96-67 in the Blazers' Bartow Arena.
"Give UAB some credit," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "They shot 61 percent for the game, and it's hard to beat any team shooting like that. But we didn't do quite enough to make it difficult offensively. Hopefully we'll learn from it as we move forward."
If the theme of the first half was defense first, offense certainly ruled in the second half. Jacksonville and UAB combined for 49 points in the first nine minutes of the period after scoring a combined 70 points in the first 20 minutes. With 11:11 left in the game, the Dolphins had outscored the Blazers 25-24 in the period, and had pulled within 14 points, 64-50. JD Notae had six during the offensive output, and Devin Harris and Tanner Rubio both reached double figures in that same nine-minute span.
Jacksonville cooled off a bit as the half progressed though, and UAB was able to capitalize. The Blazers strung together an 18-5 run over the next seven minutes, and led 85-57 with 4:29 remaining. Corey Romich splashed in a couple of threes and Damien Sears reached double figures in the closing minutes, but it wasn't quite enough for Jacksonville.
Though UAB won the opening tip, Jacksonville drew first blood. Notae hit a deep three about a minute in after both teams missed their first few shots. The first run of the game started soon after, with the Blazers stringing together three buckets for a 7-0 run. Harris responded with two buckets of his own, tying things up at 7-7 with about 15 minutes left. But UAB snagged another three just before the first media stoppage, giving the Blazers a 10-7 lead with 14:48 left. Through the first six minutes, UAB shot 43 percent from three, while JU was just 20 percent from deep in the opening minutes.
About halfway through the period UAB started to pull away, mostly thanks to the stellar play of Zach Bryant, who had 11 points to JU's 16 with 11:17 remaining. A 1-of-8 shooting streak by the Dolphins also paved way for the Blazers 13-2 run, which lasted about five minutes before Harris snapped it with a breakaway dunk off a steal. With 7:32 left in the half, UAB led JU 26-18.
The two teams exchanged one run apiece to end the half; UAB grew its lead to as much as 17, 35-18, with 4:22 left, and Jacksonville cut the lead to just 10 points, 37-27, with a 9-2 run, fueled by three consecutive threes from Notae, who had 12 at the half. UAB wrapped the half with a final 4-0 run, leading 43-27 after 20 minutes.
- Four Dolphins scored in double figures, with Notae leading the way with 18. He was joined by Harris (13), Rubio (10), and Sears (10).
- Harris made notable appearances all over the stats, leading the team in assists (five), second in rebounds (five), and tying with Sears for most steals (three). The redshirt senior had just two fouls and two turnovers in 39 minutes of play.
- Jacksonville improved on multiple facets from the first half to the second; points in the paint (20 second half, 10 first half), second chance points (six second half, none first half), and overall shooting (44.1 % second half, 37.9% first half).