BIRMINGHAM, AL (WCBI/AL.com) – A hot-shooting Southern Miss team left Birmingham with its perfect Conference USA record still intact, but not without a late charge from UAB.
The Golden Eagles (18-4, 7-0 CUSA) shot 63 percent from the field, including 58 percent from 3-point land and beat UAB 79-75 at Bartow Arena. USM swept the season series from the Blazers, which lost its seventh out of its last eight games. It was USM’s 10th straight win.
UAB (9-13, 1-6) cut the lead to two at 71-69 with 1:49 left when Jordan Swing stole a pass and threw down a dunk. USM’s Jerrold Brooks and UAB’s Rob Williams traded 3-pointers and USM led 74-72 with 56.8 seconds left.
USM’s Jonathan Mills got a bucket down low, and UAB turned it over on its next possession. Neil Watson hit two free throws for a 78-72 lead.
USM’s Neil Watson didn’t miss a shot from the floor, hitting 7-of-7 and 6-of-6 from behind the arc. He scored 24, Brooks scored 16 and Michael Craig 16. Dwayne Davis scored 10.
Swing led five Blazers in double figures with 17 points. Quincy Taylor scored 15, Williams 14, Fahro Alihodzic 12 and Preston Purifoy 10.
A 12-2 run by USM in the first half extended the lead to 24-12 halfway through, and the Golden Eagles led 41-33 at halftime. USM was especially hot in the first half, shooting 64 percent.
UAB got a 3-pointer from Quincy Taylor to cut the lead to 49-45, but USM answered with a three from Watson and two steals led to easy buckets and a 7-0 run over a span of 1:14 to go up 56-45.
USM is at UCF on Wednesday, while UAB is at Tulsa on Wednesday.