Friday , Mar , 10 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Red-hot Blazers take on Miners in C-USA Tourney semifinals

=== Red-hot Blazers take on Miners in C-USA Tourney semifinals ===

(Sports Network) – The 24th-ranked and second-seeded UAB Blazers put their
seven-game winning streak on the line today, when they take on the third-
seeded Texas-El Paso Miners in the semifinals of the Conference USA
Tournament from FedExForum. The winner of today’s game will face off against
either Memphis or Houston in the finals on Saturday. The Blazers have caught
fire at the right moment and enter the contest having won seven straight games
dating back to an embarrassing 65-37 loss to UTEP on February 8th. Most
recently, the team opened the C-USA Tournament on Thursday and posted an
easy 69-55 win over 10th-seeded SMU in the quarterfinals. With the victory,
the Blazers improved to 23-5 overall and 11-10 all-time in this event. UAB
has never won the C-USA Tournament, but did make an appearance in the
2003 final, losing out to Louisville (83-78).

As for UTEP, it dropped its regular season finale to UCF (66-55) and because
of that loss the team finished one-game back of UAB in the C-USA standings
at 11-3. Still, the team was awarded a first round bye and opened the
tourney in the quarterfinal round, where it posted a 66-47 win over 11th-
seeded Southern Mississippi on Thursday. The victory improved the Miners to
20-8 overall, marking their third straight 20-win campaign. UTEP, which was a
member of the Western Athletic Conference from 1969-2005 prior to joining C-
USA this year, has made two straight appearances in league tournament
championship games. Last season, the Miners won their first WAC Tournament
title since 1990 with a 91-78 win over Boise State. The Miners are 2-0 all-
time versus UAB, including the one victory earlier this season.

UTEP shot a solid 50.0 percent from the field and knocked down 8-of-14 three-
pointers, as it cruised to a 19-point win over Southern Miss in the
quarterfinals on Thursday. The team also outscored Southern Miss at the foul
line, 14-6, and even won the battle on the boards, 31-28. Jason Williams led
the way for the Miners with 14 points and seven boards, while Edgar Moreno had
13 points and six rebounds.

On the season, Williams leads UTEP in both scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding
(7.2 rpg), and is also dishing out 3.2 apg. Miguel Ayala, who scored 10 points
off the bench in Thursday’s win, is the only other player on the roster
currently averaging double figures with 10.4 ppg. As a team, the Miners have
excelled at the defensive end of the court this season, holding their
opponents to a mere 58.3 ppg and a lackluster 39.4 percent shooting from
the floor. The team has also done a good job on the boards, grabbing 5.2
rpg more than its foes.

Lawrence Kinnard and Richard Jones each tallied 12 points in leading UAB to a
13-point quarterfinal round victory over SMU on Thursday. Marvett McDonald and
Paul Delaney chipped in 11 points apiece for the Blazers, who shot 44.4
percent from the field in the game. The team however, won the game with solid
defense, as it forced SMU into a whopping 26 turnovers in which it scored 27
points in the victory.

UAB has excelled in forcing turnovers this season, generating an average
of 21.7 miscues per contest. The team has also capitalized on a
majority of those turnovers, as evidenced by its solid scoring average
of 76.2 ppg. McDonald currently leads the Blazers in scoring with 15.3 ppg
and also has 43 steals to his credit. Wen Mukubu chips in with 9.7 ppg for
UAB, while Carldell Johnson adds team-highs of 6.4 apg and 78 steals.