Big Second Half Advances UAB to Second Round in NIT

KJ Buffen had a career-high 26 points in UAB’s win over Southern Miss in the first round of the NIT. (Photo by UAB Athletics)

On Tuesday night, UAB was able to get a victory over former conference rival Southern Miss 88-60 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Blazers started the game off sluggish, turning the ball over 7 times in the first five minutes and turning the ball over 19 times for the game. Luckily for UAB fans, the Blazers did everything else right especially in the second half to help get the blowout victory over the Golden Eagles. UAB led for almost 28 minutes of the game and led by as many as 28 points at the end of the game. The Blazers were able to play well defensively, rebound the basketball, and dominate points in the paint to get the victory over Southern Miss.

After giving up 38 points in the first half, the Blazers played really well defensively in the second half. Southern Miss only made 7 of its 30 field goals in the second half for an abysmal 23.3% after shooting 48.4% in the first half. UAB was also able to force Southern Miss into 24 total turnovers and the Blazers scored 30 points off of those turnovers. Southern Miss forced UAB into 19 turnovers but was only able to convert those turnovers into 8 points. UAB also outscored Southern Miss in fast break points 16 to 4.

Another big reason UAB was able to get the win over Southern Miss is the Blazers dominated the glass. UAB outrebounded Southern Miss 48-32 overall and 19-11 on offensive rebounds. Those offensive rebounds were huge and allowed the Blazers to get 18 second chance points. The offensive rebounds also really helped UAB when they were struggling shooting the ball early on in the game. 

UAB not only dominated Southern Miss in rebounds but also dominated scoring inside the paint. The Blazers scored 50 points in the paint Tuesday night compared to just 18 points for the Golden Eagles. Trey Jemison got some really nice looks inside and ended up with 14 points going 7 of 9 from the field. The Blazers were really aggressive and attacked the rim Tuesday night. 

Andy Kennedy spoke with the media after the game about his team’s performance Tuesday night: “We were great off our offensive glass, we have 19 big offensive rebounds, points in the paint +32 that’s the difference in the game…We just had to accept attack attack attack…once we started doing that we took control of the game.”

KJ Buffen was huge for the Blazers Tuesday and led the way with a career-high 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists. Buffen was 11 of 21 from the field and was a key reason why the Blazers were so aggressive and attacked Southern Miss in the paint. Buffen spoke to the media immediately following the game on his excitement playing in Bartow one more time: “It felt great playing in front of the home crowd. I knew a couple of the players and coaches from the other team so it was good playing against my family. It felt great especially being back in Bartow with the fans.”

The win over Southern Miss brings UAB’s overall record to 26-9 and was Andy Kennedy’s 75th win at UAB. This was also UAB’s first win in the NIT since 2010. The Blazers will move on to the second round of the NIT and play the winner of the Clemson/Morehead State game. If Clemson wins then UAB will travel up to Clemson to play the Tigers but if Morehead State wins UAB will get to host another game in Bartow Arena. Here’s a look at the official NIT bracket.

Official NIT bracket from

4 thoughts on “Big Second Half Advances UAB to Second Round in NIT”

  1. Will be in attendance at Clemson cheering for my Blazers! UAB is such a spectacular academic institution with such a stored past on both the academic front and sports level, it baffles me where are all the graduates in attendance at sporting events? The game tonight was worthy of a sellout, the coach is a distinguished alum. I don’t get it!!! Wake up Birmingham!!! Support this fantastic institution!!!! Frustrated beyond comprehension!!!

  2. I don’t get it. Where a University that has a coach that will bench players for not showing up on time for practice. Unlike a sister institution that has embarrassed our system by turning a blinds eye to a player who was an accomplice to a murder that should have been expelled from the university!!!

  3. Thomas Johnson

    Hey John,
    Great Article. I have been living on a high this season with this team. Southern Miss was doubling Jelly up most of the night limiting him to only 18 points. I was so glad that KJ Buffen had a career night on the court with 26 points, and 12 rebounds. I was also glad to see Ladarius Brewer come off the bench for 10 points and 6 rebounds. The one I was surprised about was that Coach Kennedy started Eric Gaines tonight. That guy can be a play maker, but he also is so reckless with the basketball that he ends up turning it over. I did notice Coach Kennedy benched him after some of that reckless play. I was confused about what had occurred with the Southern Miss Coach and him throwing his clip board and Jacket and getting T’ed up. I was not sure if it had something to do with Jemison or if he was just complaining because they were losing. Lastly, I was very disappointed with the attendance last night. I do understand the students were on Spring break, but we only on had 2,237 (per CUSA) in an arena that can hold 8,500 people. The tickets were as cheap as 10 bucks.
    Come on Birmingham Show up like you would for Alabama or Auburn.

  4. Pingback: Podcast: NIT Second Round UAB Morehead State Preview (3/17) - Blazer Victory

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