Andy Kennedy has known for quite a while that the lone road leading his UAB men's basketball team to the NCAA Basketball Tournaments comes through Frisco, Texas.

Win the C-USA Tournament, held in Frisco, and the Blazers are in the big dance. Once that became a certainty, Kennedy stressed that securing the best possible seed for the conference tournament was the focus.

As of late, the Blazers (18-8 overall, 9-6 C-USA) have been crawling up the standings with five wins in the past six games. The surge moved UAB into sole possession of third place in the conference. Now, the road to the best possible seeding pretty much finishes on the road.

UAB has four of its final five games away from Bartow Arena. That begins this week when the Blazers play at UTEP on Thursday and UTSA on Saturday.

UTEP is struggling of late, despite coming off a 77-66 win over UTSA. Before that, the Miners dropped five consecutive C-USA games. The Miners (12-13 overall, 5-9 C-USA) are tied with Charlotte for ninth place, with UTSA (7-19 overall, 1-14 C-USA) the only team with a worse conference mark.

However, UAB knows firsthand that UTEP can be a difficult test if the Miners are playing well. UTEP pushed UAB into two overtimes at Bartow Arena on Dec. 29. UAB escaped with a 79-73 win despite shooting 36 percent from the field and making 3 of 24 3-pointers. The Blazers were outrebounded, 53-39, in the game, but UAB forced 25 turnovers, with KJ Buffen getting seven steals.

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