Jordan “Jelly” Walker carried the offensive load, and Tavin Lovan chipped in with a critical bucket as UAB concluded the regular season with a 93-91 Conference USA win at Charlotte.
Walker had a season-highs in points (41) and 3-pointers (8). What he didn’t provide, though, was the winning points. That honor went to Lavin, who followed a missed KJ Buffen 3-pointer with a rebound basket. His big play broke a 91-91 tie with 23 seconds left in double overtime. Charlotte had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Brice Williams’ 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the front of the rim.
“If you were a casual basketball fan, I bet you were entertained,” said UAB head coach Andy Kennedy on his postgame radio appearance with David Crane.
It certainly was a nerve-wracking afternoon for both teams involved. It was also an entertaining afternoon watching Walker close out his final regular season in a UAB uniform with one of his better.
Walker scored 11 of his team’s first 15 points but didn’t score again in the first half. Overall, he was 15 of 32 from the field, 8 of 20 on 3-pointers and 3 of 4 from the free throw line. He also had six assists and played 46 minutes. It was the most shots and 3-pointers that Jelly took in two seasons at UAB.
The Blazers needed every one of those points.
UAB held the lead for nearly 26 minutes, but there were 24 lead changes, and the score was tied 14 times. Charlotte tied the game at 75 with 21 seconds left in regulation. Walker missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, and the game went into overtime.
Neither team had a lead bigger than two points in the first overtime. UAB took an 89-86 lead with 2:52 left in the second overtime on a 3-pointer by Walker. Charlotte answered quickly on a 3-printers by Williams. Lovan’s dunk gave UAB a two-point lead with 2:09 left, and Charlotte answered with two free throws. Lovan’s follow shot gave UAB the win.
Trey Jemison had 11 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals for UAB. KJ Buffen chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds.
“It tested us again,” Kennedy said. “I think every time you get tested, you grow from it.”
UAB (23-8 overall, 14-6 conference) is the No. 3 seed in the Conference USA Tournament, which begins next week.
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