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UAB survives against former conference rival Middle Tennessee State

Javian Davis and Eric Gaines led the Blazers to a 58-57 win in Murfreesboro despite poor shooting

NCAA Basketball: UAB at West Virginia
Javian Davis scored 21 points in the Blazers’ win.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

When asked about his team’s performance in their 58-57 win at the Murphy Center over former conference rival Middle Tennessee, UAB head coach Andy Kennedy was straight to the point on what his team needed to improve.

“Everything with a capital ‘E,’”Kennedy said. “Sometimes when you don’t make shots, it just kind of zaps your energy, especially on the road, so it just affects you defensively, [but] I don’t think it did.”

Kennedy’s team started off the game going down 15-2 after a strong start from the hosting Blue Raiders but responded to ultimately lead 29-28 at halftime.

“[The slow start] certainly got our attention again,” Kennedy said. “It was just offensively we gave up the first four field goals, so we were bad on the defensive end, and then offensively we were just so inept. We were able to finally string together some plays... [Once we] settled down a little bit, we knew it was gonna be a slugfest.”

The team was just 1-for-9 from 3-point land.

For the Blazers it was all senior Javian Davis and junior Eric Gaines, who combined for 31 points on the night. Davis’ ability to contend with the height brought on by the MTSU frontcourt was the catalyst in the UAB road win as he poured in 21 points.

On the Blue Raiders’ side, a complete team effort was required after leading scorer, senior Elias King, went 4-14 from the field. He hit just one of his seven attempts from 3-point range. King still scored 10 points after finding his shot on the inside. Junior guard Justin Bufford had 11 in the contest. Additionally, MTSU found help from senior Josh Ogundele, who scored 12 points before fouling out.

This victory gave UAB a much-needed close-game win after dropping its first two games of the season by a total of three points. They now head back home for a game against another premiere mid-major school in the Furman Paladins.

As for Middle Tennessee State, the Blue Raiders have now lost two close games in a row (also by three combined points), and they head to the Bahamas for a game against a red-hot UIC team.