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  • Brad Cummings

The Wrong Side of the Shot

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Great game! Great atmosphere! Great winning shot! Unfortunately for the UAB Men's Basketball team that game winning shot came from North Texas Junior guard Tylor Perry.

The Blazers and Mean Green traded defensive blow after defensive blow in what could only be described as a "physical, slow grind." North Texas waiting till the end of every shot clock before taking a shot is a brutal brand of basketball to watch, but it works for the Mean Green and it has helped lead them to what is now a 12 game winning streak. Physical defense was the calling card for this game and long offensive possessions.

The game started with Jordan "Jelly" Walker hitting a three as the Blazers were off and running quick. Jelly scored a quick lay up to give the Blazers a 5-2 lead. The Mean Green would then come down and hit an old fashion 3 point try with a foul and the bonus to tie the game up at 5. It is worth it to say that this score was not in the first minute, not even in the first two minutes. How tough was the defense of both teams and how slow was the North Texas pace of play? The score would remain 5-5 for the first four and a half minutes of the game. It took over eight minutes before one of the teams (UAB) would reach double figures. Then steps in Tylor Perry. The Mean Green guard would find his first points of the game nine minutes in off a jumper in the paint.

The Blazers and Mean Green would continue exchanging blows on defense. Any points that were giving up were absolutely earned by both teams. Clutch baskets by the Blazers were often times responded to quickly by the Mean Green. With less than two minutes left in the first half Tavin Lovan would provide a tough layup and two made free throws to give the Blazers the lead 27-23. Twenty seconds left in the half UNT's Perry would bring the ball down the court and dribble out the clock before hitting a long two pointer as the buzzer sounded making it a two point contest. This is foreshadowing of what would come.

The second half was all Mean Green for the first ten minutes. They would take the lead in the first minute of play and would extend it to 7 with a score of 43-36 nine minutes into the second half. Finally, after some tough offensive possessions the Blazers and the great crowd started to gain momentum. The Blazers would hit big shot after big shot while also getting defensive stops and rebounds. Suddenly with four and half minutes left the game was tied at 49. That's when KJ Buffin would get a clutch layup and the Blazers would hold on to a slim lead all the way down to the final moments of the game.

With 2 minutes left the Blazers would have several chances to put the game away with free throws but would miss several allowing the Mean Green to stick around until the final 20 seconds. The final 20 seconds saw an inbound pass go to Tavin Lovan. As he pushed the ball down the court the Mean Green would foul and send Lovan to the line. Tavin would get a one and one chance to put some distance between the close 56-55 lead. The first shot would go up and brick off the rim. But KJ Buffin would come up big and grab the rebound. As he went back up with the ball the Mean Green would mug him sending him to the line for two shots. KJ would miss the first but hit the second giving the Blazers a two point lead. Then steps in Tylor Perry.

Perry would get the inbound pass and bring the ball up the court passing it off with 10 seconds left on the clock. He would get the ball back fast and would also get the defensive switch that saw Trey Jemison guarding the quick and shifty guard. With 3 seconds left he would throw up a rainbow shot over the out-stretched arms of the 7 footer Jemison. The ball sailed through the air as every Blazer in the building held their breath and found its home at the bottom of the net. The energy in the building was completely gone after the half court shot from Jelly would come up short. The North Texas Mean Green stormed the court and hugged Perry in celebration of their 58-57 victory.

Coach Kennedy put it like this after the game.

"We had our chances but didn’t execute enough to get out of here with a much-needed win,” He continued, “We’re not taking enough advantage of those opportunities(chances).” Kennedy also said that he believed he just witnessed the front runner for player of the year in Perry. With the performance we saw today its hard to disagree with that. Kennedy continued saying that you can't shoot 14-23 from the free throw line and expect to win these kind of tough games especially against a team like North Texas that will limit your possessions.

Usually UAB is one of the better free throw shooting teams in the conference with a season average of 78%. The 60% performance tonight marks one of the Blazers worst performances from the charity stripe. Its going to take some time for the team and coaches to get over this one but their memory will have to be short. As coach put it after the game when asked how he plans to get over the loss," Red Wine".

While the day did not end the way any of us had wanted there was a positive from the game. Over 4,700 people would show up and make for one of the best atmospheres of the year. Every fan was engaged in the game and were loud and disruptive when it was needed. There is one more home game against LaTech and it would be great to have an even better crowd for that game to send our Seniors off in style!

The Blazers hit the road as they will travel to Texas to take on UTSA and UTEP before traveling to Southern Miss for the last away game of the year. All games remaining are extra important as the Blazers will look to hold on to the two seed in the West and more importantly, the bye in the conference tournament. Nothing left now but to win out if we want to go dancing!


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