"You saw a little of everything," Anderson said of the matchup with Marshall. "They continued to attack us. Ron [Jirsa] had his kids well-prepared." Considering Anderson took his UAB squad to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, well, that bodes well for The Herd's future in C-USA.
In the first half, UAB utilized their full-court press to force MU turnovers and turn them into instant points. The Blazers dug themselves a 8-point hole when Marshall's Ronny Dawn hit a three-pointer with 12:02 left in the first half to give MU their largest lead at 8 points, 20-12. Two Squeaky Johnson steals enabled UAB to tie MU at 22-22.
Marshall's Tre Whitted shot a perfect 5-of-5 in the half, and the game was knotted at 40-40 at halftime.
"We wanted to break the press and get open shots and knock 'em down," Whitted said. "When we watched film on them, we knew they were going to play right into our hands."
The second half was a game of runs, with UAB shooting out to a quick 48-40 lead following Johnson's jumper at the 18:36 mark. Two threes by A.W. Hamilton and one by Tre Whitted quickly tied the game again at 53-53 with 13:52 left.
Enoch Bunch and UAB's Squeaky Johnson battled for a loose ball in the 81-78 UAB win in Huntington on Saturday night.
Whitted would lead all scorers with 20 points in the game, hitting 6-of-8 from the field including 4-of-5 from three point range. Hamilton was close behind with 17 points.
Two of those came when Hamilton hit another jumper in the paint with just 1:39 left to get MU within one point, 77-76. UAB's Marvett McDonald hit a clutch three on the next possession, but MU's Mark Patton answered with a layup to cut the Blazer lead to just two points.
"It was a one-point game," UAB coach Anderson said of McDonald's three-pointer. "You have to have some shots fall for you on the road."
The Herd had one last chance for the win with just :02 left. A.W. Hamilton pulled back for a fadeaway jumper that clanked off the rim. UAB's Donell Taylor hit a free throw to seal the tight 81-78 win for the Blazers.
"I just missed the shot," Hamilton shook his head and said. "You couldn't ask for a better shot."
Marshall shot 46.8% for the game (22-of-47), while UAB hit 49.2% (29-of-59). UAB turned 12 steals into 18 points, and the Blazer bench provided 28 points compared to Marshall's 8 points off the bench.
"They got extremely good shots down the stretch," alluded MU coach Ron Jirsa of the Blazers. "When we dug our feet in, they blew by us and hit the open man. We weren't getting that same kind of shot."
"They're not a 1-4 team," Anderson smiled and said of Marshall. "We had to fight to get out of here with a win."
UAB keeps their record at a perfect 4-0 with the win, while Marshall drops to 1-4 with the non-conference (for now) loss. After a long week off for final exams, The Herd will travel to Illinois State next Saturday for a 7:05pm matchup.