Blazers Face Kentucky In NCAA First Round UAB received a No. 9 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and will face eighthseeded Kentucky in Fridays first round games at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pa. The Blazers and Wildcats are somewhat familiar with one another. UAB upset tournament No. 1 seed UK, 76-75, in the 2004 tournaments second round. UAB (24-6) is making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, all of which have come under Mike Andersons leadership. The Blazers are 2-0 in NCAA first rounds in Andersons tenure.
UAB will have to rebound from a Conference USA tournament finals loss to No. 5 Memphis on March 11, 57-46. Paul Delaney led UAB with 14 points against the Tigers, who earned one of the four No. 1 seeds in this years NCAA brackets. Marvett McDonald leads UAB with an average of 15 points per game. Wen Mukubu (9.3 ppg.) and Delaney (8.5 ppg.) are near double-figures.
Delaney is averaging 11.6 points per game in his last five outings. Point guard Squeaky Johnson, who helped engineer the 2004 upset of the Wildcats, averages 7.5 points, 6.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 3.0 rebounds per game while hitting 50 percent from three-point range. He is one of 16 finalists for the 2006 Bob Cousy Award given to the nations top point guard. UAB comes into the game having won eight of its last nine. The Blazers force a nations-best 21.2 turnovers per game and are second nationally with 11.1 steals per contest.
The Blazers are making their 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their second in a row. UAB, which has an alltime tournament record of 9-12, earned NCAA bids seven consecutive seasons in the 1980s (1981-87) under then-head coach Gene Bartow. The Blazers also participated in the NCAAs in 1990, 1994 and 1999.
With this years invitation, UAB now has received three consecutive NCAA berths for the first time in two decades. This seasons NCAA bid also represents a fourth-consecutive postseason tournament berth for the Blazers under head coach Mike Anderson. UAB reached the NIT quarterfinals during the 2003 season. Best Finish Was Elite 8 Effort In 1982 UABs best finish in NCAA Tournament play was its Elite 8 showing in the 1982 tournament.
The Blazers beat Indiana (80-70) in second round play before stunning Virginia and Ralph Sampson, 68-66, in the regional semifinals. UABs run ended in the regional finals as the Blazers fell to Louisville, 75-68. Blazers 3-2 In NCAA Tourney Under Anderson UAB has registered a record of 3-2 in NCAA Tournament games under head coach Mike Anderson.
The Blazers defeated Washington and tournament No. 1 seed Kentucky in the 2004 event at Columbus, Ohio to reach the Sweet 16 in St. Louis. Last season as a No. 11 seed, UAB knocked off sixth-seeded LSU (82-68) before falling to No. 3 seed Arizona. UAB Has 79-86 Mark Vs. Tourney Teams The Blazers have played 44 of the other teams entered in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, and 165 games against those opponents. UABs record in those games is 79-86.
The Blazers have played 12 of those teams in NCAA Tournament play and have compiled a record of 6-8 against those teams in tournament games. Here is UABs record vs. the 2006 field: Arizona, 0-1 (2005); George Washington, 0-1 (1994); Indiana, 1-1 (1981, 1982); Iowa, 0-1 (1999); Kansas, 0-1 (2004); Kentucky, 2-0 (1981, 2004); LSU, 1-0 (2005); Michigan State, 1-0 (1985); North Carolina, 0-1 (1986); Oklahoma, 0-1 (1983); UCLA, 0-1 (1990); and Washington, 1-0 (2004). Blazers 2-0 Against Kentucky In NCAA Tournament History is on the side of UAB when it comes to playing Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. The two schools have met twice in the Big Dance with the Blazers winning both previous contests.
UAB took a 69-62 victory over the Wildcats in the 1981 NCAA Tournament, a second round win at Tuscaloosa; then in the 2004 NCAAs, the Blazers won a thrilling, 76-75 game in second round play at Columbus, Ohio. UAB One of 22 Schools Making At Least Third Straight NCAA Trip UAB is one of 22 schools in the 2006 NCAA Tournament field that is making its third consecutive tournament appearance.
Six Pack Success
The Kentucky game will be UABs sixth game against the six power conferences this year. The Blazers are 3-2 against members of the Big East, Big 10 and Big 12. They have not yet played a member of the SEC, ACC or Pac-10. UAB won at Nebraska and at home against Oklahoma State in Big 12 matchups. The Blazers also won at USF.
Who Do You Guard? Don't blame opponents if they aren't sure who to guard on UAB's deep squad. In a recent stretch of eight games, eight different Blazers led the team in scoring. Beginning with Valdosta State on Jan. 5, the Blazers were led by Richard Jones (17 vs. VSU); Squeaky Johnson (13 vs. Tulsa); Frank Holmes (co-scoring leader with Marvett McDonald with 22 vs. Marshall); McDonald (22 at Rice); Wen Mukubu (16 vs. Houston); Paul Delaney (17 at Memphis); Derrick Broom (19 vs. Southern Miss) and Brandon Tobias (14 at UCF). In UAB's 30 contests this season, Demario Eddins and Lawrence Kinnard have also led the team in scoring at least once. That means 10 of UAB's 14 roster members have led the team in scoring this year.
UAB has seen tremendous contributions from its bench this season. In fact, three bench players, Paul Delaney, Derrick Broom and Brandon Tobias recorded career-high numbers in successive games. Delaney came off the bench at Memphis Jan. 26 to score a personal-best 17 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds.
Broom, who was actually inserted into the starting lineup against Southern Miss for just the second time in his career, responded by shooting 7-of-9 from the field, 5-of-7 from long range, to notch 19 points. That total eclipsed his career best by seven points. Tobias came off the bench to lead UAB with 14 points at UCF. On the season, UAB is averaging 28.6 points from its bench.
Home Sweet Home
UAB rolled up a 14-1 home record in 2005- 06. That record ties the second-best season in Bartow Arena history. The 2003-04 club was 14-1 at home en route to its Sweet 16 appearance under Mike Andersons leadership. The only Blazer team to better that mark was the 1993-94 club that went 15-1 in Bartow Arena. That UAB team, coached by the legendary Gene Bartow, made one of the programs 12
NCAA Tournament appearances.
UAB enjoys impressive success playing in the friendly confines of Bartow Arena. Now in its 18th season as the home of the Blazers, Bartow Arena has helped the mens basketball team to an overall record of 214 wins against just 47 losses for a winning percentage of .820. Margin-al Victory UABs 87-50 victory over Southern Miss Feb. 18 marked the largest margin of victory (37 points) for a UAB team since a 39- point win over USF during the 2003-04 season. The Blazers beat the Bulls in Bartow Arena, 86-47, on Jan. 20, 2004. That team went on to UABs third NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. In The Polls UAB was ranked No. 24 in the March 6 Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Blazers made their debut in the national rankings that week after spending seven straight weeks in the others receiving votes category. UAB received 144 points in the AP poll and 57 points in the coaches balloting.