Louisville, headed to the Big East next season, is trying to become the only C-USA team other than Cincinnati to win the tournament and regular-season titles in the same year.
UAB (21-10) looked ready to upset its first ranked opponent since knocking off top-ranked Kentucky last year in the NCAA tournament as the Blazers forced 22 turnovers, including 12 steals with their swarming defense.
But the Blazers couldn't hold onto a 49-40 lead, and they forced the seventh and last tie at 61 on a pair of free throws by Donnell Taylor with 3:54 to go.
Top-seeded Louisville will play Memphis or
South Florida Saturday morning in the C-USA
Taquan Dean led Louisville with 11 rebounds and 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half after he started 1-of-7 in the first half. Ellis Myles added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Garcia scored 11 of his 13 in the second half. Lorrenzo Wade also had 10.
Demario Eddins and Taylor led UAB with 13 points each, Marvel McDonald added 12 and Squeaky Johnson 10.
The Blazers trailed 33-31 at halftime but hit seven of their first 11 shots in the second half and harassed Louisville into six turnovers in building their biggest lead of the game at 49-40 with 13:53 to go on a layup by Delaney after Garcia had lost the ball after crossing midcourt.
Then UAB went cold, hitting just one of the next nine shots. Louisville went on a 14-5 run and tied the game for the fifth time at 54 on a 3-pointer by Garcia with 8:02 remaining.
The Blazers were trying to reach the title game for the second time in three years, and they came out playing faster and with much more intensity than Louisville with their swarming, pressure defense.
UAB got Garcia into foul trouble quickly as he picked up his third personal foul six minutes into the game, and he played only six minutes of the first half.
The Blazers responded with a pair of 3-pointers, first by McDonald, then Broom, and McDonald grabbed the ball off a missed free throw by Paul Delaney and scored on a layup at the buzzer that pulled UAB to 33-31 at halftime.