UAB came up one game short of making the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive season. However, the Blazers did get their season extended with an invitation to the NIT on Sunday night.
The Blazers will host long-time rival Southern Miss in an NIT first-round game on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. UAB is one of 16 seeded teams in the tournament. The Blazers received a No. 4 seed in the Clemson Regional.
UAB needs to shake off the disappointment of falling one game short of winning the Conference USA Tournament and earning a bid to the Big Dance. The Blazers (25-9) have won 12 of their last 14 games, but the pain of Saturday’s 78-56 loss to Florida Atlantic will be hard to shake.
Southern Miss (25-7) just finished their first season in the Sun Belt Conference. The Golden Eagles won the SBC regular season championship but dropped a 78-61 decision to South Alabama in the SBC Tournament quarterfinals. Southern Miss won its first eight games of the season with wins over NIT participants Vanderbilt (60-48) and Liberty (76-72). The Golden Eagles were 11-2 overall in non-conference games.
The Golden Eagles are led by 6-foot-5 junior Austin Crowley (16.1 points per game) and 6-foot-9, 245-pound graduate Felipe Haase (15.5 points, 6.2 rebounds per game). Those two combined for 137 3-pointers. DeAndre Pinckney, a 6-foot-8, 223-pound junior, is averaging 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
The teams won’t need introductions. UAB and Southern Miss have played 53 times in men’s basketball games, with UAB holding a 34-19 advantage in the series. UAB is 4-0 against Southern Miss under Andy Kennedy, with three of those games coming at Bartow Arena.
The winner of Wednesday night’s game will play the winner of No. 1 seed Clemson and Morehead State. The game will be played at the higher seed, so if Clemson wins, the Tigers are guaranteed to play host.
UAB is making its 13th NIT appearance, with the most recent coming in 2016 under Jerod Haase. The Blazers have two NIT semifinal appearances but have never played in the championship game.
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