Now we know for certain what we already thought we knew. It is personal for UAB standout Jordan “Jelly” Walker. He did believe that he deserved the Conference USA Player of the Year award over North Texas guard Tylor Perry.

We know this because Walker was asked the question following UAB’s 76-69 victory over North Texas in the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals on Friday afternoon in the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco.

Walker looked to UAB head coach Andy Kennedy for guidance on how to answer the question.

“Be honest, say no,” Kennedy said before laughing and telling Walker to tell the truth.

“If I’m being honest, I would say it was,” Walker said. “I was a little disappointed I didn’t get player of the year. No disrespect to him, he’s a great player. I told him that after the game. I love playing against him. He’s probably the best, especially a little player, that I played against my entire college career. I love matching up with him. It’s fun. He’s hard to guard and I’m hard to guard. He leads his team to victories and I do too. But, I definitely took this one personal, because I was a little upset about it. But, the biggest goal is the championship and get dancing. We got another one and that’s what I’m focusing on now.”

There was no doubt that Walker was the best player on the floor Friday. And his second consecutive jaw-dropping outing is a big reason why the Blazers are playing in the C-USA Tournament championship game against regular season champion Florida Atlantic on Saturday night at 7:30.

This time, Walker had a game-high 32 points with six rebounds, six assists and just one turnover in 35 minutes. He was 8 of 18 from the field, 6 of 15 on 3-pointers and 10 of 11 from the start. He was also a big part of a stunning start for the Blazers.

UAB (25-8) jumped out to a 22-2 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. Walker had 13 points in that stretch, including three 3-pointers, but it was a team effort. UAB clamped down defensively, forcing North Texas to miss 16 of its first shots. It was a thing of beauty in Kennedy’s eyes.

However, it didn’t last the entire half.

“I wished for the first time in my coaching career that games were six minutes long,” Kennedy said. “I thought, ‘Man, we were good for six minutes. Then we realized that North Texas is a good basketball team. We knew they were going to fight and scratch and claw. That’s what they did.”

North Texas (26-7) got within five points late in the half and trailed, 35-28, at halftime.

“The second half, I thought we were in complete control,” said Kennedy, whose team led by as many as 16 points after halftime. “We just kind of came unglued at the end, but made the plays we needed.”

UAB led 69-61 with 1:30 left after Eric Gaines made a pair of free throws. The lead was down to 71-59 in a matter of 48 seconds with the final four points of the Mean Green run coming after the Blazers had back-to-back turnovers while inbounding the ball under their own basket.

From that point on, UAB got three free throws from Tavin Lovan and two by Gaines to pull out the win and advance to the conference tournament championship game for the second consecutive season.

While Walker moved another step closer to earning C-USA Tournament MVP, it was a team effort. KJ Buffen had his second consecutive solid game, contributing 13 points, seven rebounds, and a steal. Lovan had nine points, three rebounds, two steals, and an assist. Javian Davis had 11 points, five rebounds, two steals, and a blocked shot.

“My teammates stepped up tonight and it definitely showed we’re more than just me,” Walker said. “People constantly talk about Jelly this and Jelly that. But, this team is way bigger than me. We have a lot of people capable of taking over games at any moment. You saw that tonight.”

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.