UAB made some men's basketball history on Tuesday night. Now, the focus is on adding another piece of history.

First things first.

The Blazers did what they've done a school-record 29 times this season. They found a way to win. This time, it was Ty Brewer tying his collegiate career high with 30 points, Eric Gaines providing some huge overtime buckets and Jordan "Jelly" Walker icing the 88-86 victory over Utah Valley in the NIT national semifinals at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

It's the first time they advanced to the NIT final in the storied program's history. The next step, which would add to the program's trophy case if they are successful, is the NIT championship game on Thursday night against current Conference USA and near-future American Athletic Conference rival North Texas.

"Our guys made the plays we needed to make," Kennedy said. "I thought Eric was tremendous in a couple of decisions in the pull-up game, and Ty, what can you say, he really played big on the biggest stage."

Brewer was tremendous from the jump. He scored six points in the team's 8-0 start and had 14 points, five rebounds and four steals by halftime. By the time he was done, Brewer had 30 points,  12 rebounds, five steals and a blocked shot. He was 13 of 17 from the field and 4 of 5 from 3-point territory.

"My mentality really is do any and everything I can and just go hard doing it," Brewer said. "Whatever happens, just happens."

His jumper from 15 feet gave UAB (29-8) the lead for good – at 85-83 – with 45 seconds left in the first overtime. However, it was Gaines who kept UAB in control early in the extra period. Utah Valley had some momentum after scoring the final four points of regulation and surviving a pair of misses by Walker before going into overtime.

"We have a next-play mentality. We talk about it all the time," Kennedy said. "Every one of us, myself included, we get off the rails, and somebody will say, 'Next play, we've got to move to the next thing.' In our huddle, it's controlled chaos, to say the least. But we're all trying to get everybody refocused on the task at hand. If the opportunity is in front of you, you still have a chance to change the outcome."

The Wolverines (28-8) scored first in overtime, but Gaines countered with by getting to the basket for two points and following with a 3-pointer to give UAB the 79-76 lead. Utah Valley was able to battle back to tie the game at 83 with 1:02 remaining. But Brewer hit the big jumper, and Walker made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 12 seconds to help UAB emerge with the win.

"It certainly wasn't Jelly's best night, and we were still able to beat a quality team when the fourth leading scorer in the country goes 5 for 23," Kennedy said. "It shows you that this team is more than just that, and we can find ways to win when we're not playing our best game offensively."

Walker finished with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Gaines had 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.

Afterward, the focus shifted toward becoming the first team in school history to win the NIT.

 "Coach always said, if you make history, let's be that team that will be remembered," Gaines said. "We come (Thursday) get the (win), we'll be remembered in UAB history."

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