UAB Sports Service

basketballBlazers move to the next round of the NCAA tournament (Photo courtesy of UAB Sports Service). Robert Brown and Tyler Madison didn't blink when they heard the question following the No. 14 seed UAB's 60-59 stunner over No. 3 Iowa State in a NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament second round game at the KFC Yum! Arena on Thursday. "Do you consider this an upset?," they were asked.

"If you look at seeding it is, but we came here to win," Brown said. "We're not surprised that we won. We came with a good scouting report, came prepared to win."

Madison went a little stronger with part of his answer. "I wouldn't really consider it an upset," Madison said. "I think our best can compete with anybody else's best."

Truthfully, UAB (20-15) didn't necessarily play their best overall game on Thursday. The Blazers fell into a 12-2 hole and shot just 34.8 percent from the field. Nick Norton, who was battling an illness, failed to record a point or assist in 13 minutes and starting center Tosin Mehinti also didn't score. But the Blazers did what they've done all year long, particularly after Conference USA play and during the C-USA Tournament run to a championship. They battled, they grinded, they remained poised and found a way to win.

The winning formula began with a relentless effort on the boards. UAB outrebounded Iowa State, 52-37, overall on the boards and 19-9 on the offensive rebounds. Madison had 11 rebound overall with nine coming on the offensive end. William Lee had 12 rebounds, Hakeem Baxter had seven the rebounds and Mehinti finished with six rebounds.

"We just didn't put on these guys, that's the bottom line," said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team led the Big 12 in defensive rebounding. "We just went in and turned and looked and they got the ball. You can't do that against an athletic team like UAB."

The Blazers also got several key baskets from Brown, who had 21 points with three 3-pointers, and received poised play in the final minute by Lee, a 6-foot-9 freshman playing on the biggest stage in college basketball for the first time.

"We didn't not play a perfect basketball game but I thought we competed throughout," said UAB head coach Jerod Haase. "It wasn't always perfect. But the guys' ability to take what we said in the timeouts and apply it on the court, I thought, was as good as we've done all year."

Things didn't start well for the Blazers, who fell into a 12-2 hole after five minutes, but they persevered and took a 31-28 lead into halftime. Things didn't start well for the Blazers in the second half, they went nearly six minutes without scoring, but persevered to hang in the game.

In the end, it was the C-USA Tournament making more plays than the Big 12 Tournament champion, who end the season 25-9.

Iowa State took a 55-53 lead into the final minute but UAB had the ball. Haase called a timeout with 52 seconds remaining, during which UAB assistant coach Rob Ehsan devised a way to get Brown open for a 3-pointer.

"(Ehsan) had a little wrinkle in a plan we already had," Haase said. "We ran it. Let's be honest, if Robert Brown doesn't make that shot, nothing looks so good. But he was able to step up and we were able to get him the open shot."

Brown's 3-pointer gave the UAB a one-point lead but Iowa State's Monte Morris countered with a jumper 12 seconds later. UAB ran 15 seconds off the clock before Lee nailed an open 15-footer to give the Blazers a 58-57 advantage.

Iowa State called a timeout before working the ball down low to Georges Niang, who turned and attempted a short jumper. Mehinti and Lee smothered the shot and Lee grabbed the loose ball while being fouled. Lee hit both free throws in the 1-and-1 situation to give UAB the three-point lead with 12 seconds left. Iowa State's Naz Long missed an open 3-pointer and Morris tipped in the miss with 0.7 seconds left. UAB ran the time out with a long pass that was tipped by Brown.

"Coming in, nobody felt that we would win, but we played our defense," said Mehinti who had three of UAB's five blocked shots. "Everybody stepped up to the challenge."