NASHVILLE – On Wednesday evening, UAB defeated Vanderbilt 67-59 in Memorial Gymnasium in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). This was UAB’s 28th win of the season and set a new single season program record for wins. The Blazers also got its third victory over a team in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) this season finishing 3-0 against the league. UAB was able to defeat the Commodores by its strong defensive effort, perfect free throw shooting, strong efforts from both Trey Jemison and Jordan Walker, and finally thanks to a good crowd of UAB fans that made the trip.
During the first half both teams really struggled to get any shots to fall. The Blazers shot a dreadful 28.5% in the first half and the Commodores were not much better, shooting 28.9%. UAB’s intensity on defense created havoc for Vanderbilt and the Commodores were not able to get many clean looks. Even when Vanderbilt was able to get good looks they would miss.
UAB’s strong defensive effort continued into the second half and the Blazers were able to force Vanderbilt into turnovers and capitalize on them. In the second half, UAB forced 6 Vanderbilt turnovers and turned those into 13 points. UAB also helped themselves stay in the game thanks to their free throw shooting. The Blazers ended the night going a perfect 17/17 from the line. When shots were not falling UAB did a great job in attacking the basket and drawing fouls to get to the free throw line.
Trey Jemison was great again Wednesday night and ended up with yet another double double (his 11th of the season) with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jemison had 13 of his 17 points in the second half and really helped his team at crucial points towards the end of the game with his presence inside.
Jordan Walker really struggled on offense in the first half going 1/10 from the floor with only 2 points. However, Walker was able to keep his composure and in the second half grabbed 19 points and five assists. He also hit critical free throws late in the game to seal the win for the Blazers. Walker was also able to set a new program record for points in a season at 698 points.
Andy Kennedy spoke with the media following the game: “That was just about desire and wanting to continue to play. That’s all it was for us. Certainly not our best game offensively and Vanderbilt had a lot to do with that. I was really proud of our guys for finding ways on the defensive end. We’ve got Trey Jemison who I thought was a huge difference maker with his presence in the paint…”
Kennedy also said: “I thought our physicalness at the basket was the difference in the game. When we needed to make stops we stepped up and made stops.”
Being in Memorial Gymnasium Sunday night something has to be said about the energy that was in the building. UAB fans not only showed up to Nashville but were loud and provided much needed energy for the basketball teams throughout the course of the game. See and hear it for yourselves by watching these two videos:
Next up for UAB will be a trip to Las Vegas next Tuesday night to take on Utah Valley in the semifinals of the NIT. The game will tip-off at 8:30 pm CT and will be televised on ESPN2. Can UAB finally win the NIT?