mens bball NOV 13th 14 of 14

Deion Lavender goes up-and-under the rim for the layup against Chattanooga
Photo by Lakyn Shepard

Will Harris
Assistant Sports Editor

With a huge lead in hand for the Blazers, freshman guard Hunter Reynolds stepped out onto the floor Monday night at Bartow Arena. The crowd was happy with the large lead over Chattanooga, but they needed one more basket to send them to their feet. Reynolds rolled off a screen set by a teammate and drained a three-pointer to send the crowd home on a good note.

The Blazers welcomed the Chattanooga Mocs to Bartow Arena on Monday night in a notable mid-major non-conference matchup. The last time these two teams met was in 2014. The Mocs throttled the Blazers in Tennessee by a final score of 83-67. UAB leads the all-time series record 10-3 against Chattanooga.

The Blazers put pressure on the Mocs early with no easy baskets and strong rebounding. UAB jumped out to a 13-0 lead with Chattanooga missing their first nine shots. Chattanooga struggled to crack the UAB defense who did not give the Mocs any easy baskets. UAB forwards Chris Cokley, William Lee and new addition Makhtar Gueye pushed the Mocs outside to settle for late shot clock three pointers and jumpers.

Chattanooga only managed to make eight shots in the first half, four of those came from three-point land. Chattanooga was not bailed out by the free throw line either as the Mocs only shot 25 percent from the free throw line.

UAB guards Zack Bryant and Nate Darling led the way from outside for the Blazers with 21 combined points in the first half. Cokley also provided 10 points and six rebounds to balance out the Blazer attack.

In the second half, UAB extended the lead to 30 points early on with strong minutes from transfer guard Jalen Perry. Perry was the go-to threat for the Blazers in the second half with 15 of his 17 points coming in the second half. UAB continued to pressure the Mocs with strong drives inside from guards and forwards alike.

The huge lead brought in a few newcomers and deep bench players to the court such as fan favorite Thomas Smallwood and freshman guard Hunter Reynolds. The highlight of the night came with less than a minute to play as Reynolds drained a three pointer to get the fans in Bartow roaring. UAB went on to win by a final score of 89-47.

“The bench came in, and there wasn’t a letdown” said head coach Rob Ehsan. “We played just as well with the bench players as we did with the starters which I was really pleased with.”

The extra motivation for the Blazers came from the Mocs’ last win over UAB in 2014, a year where many of the current UAB seniors remember well.

“My freshman year they kind of blew us out” Cokley said. “So, I know myself and all the returning guys probably took the game a little more personal.”

The top performers included Bryant with 17 points, Perry’s 17 points and Darling with 19 points.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence; my teammates and coaches have a lot of confidence in me” Darling said. “Not really knowing my role last year, it was kind of tough for me to play. But this year, I have a significant role and I’m confident in myself and my teammates.”

UAB will now face the LeMoyne-Owen College Magicians Thursday night at Bartow Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Will Harris can be reached

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