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Today in Blazer History - 4 For 40 - Episode 8 - Games against Ranked Teams
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Today in Blazer History - 4 For 40 - Episode 8 - Games against Ranked Teams
4 For 40 – Episode 8 – Games against ranked teams
Monday’s report was about games that UAB has played in which UAB was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. Today we will look at some games that UAB has played against opponents who were highly ranked.

The first team UAB played that was ranked in the AP Top 20 was in its very first season when they faced off against #15 Depaul on 2/27/1979. UAB lost 88-77. The last time they have faced a ranked opponent was last week vs. #14 Florida State, which they lost by 18. The last ranked team that UAB has beaten was #9 Iowa State in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. 1984-85 was the most successful UAB has been over ranked teams. They played 8 ranked teams and beat five of them. UAB was also ranked most of that season. Overall, the Blazers are 30-101 against ranked teams.

For today’s list of 4 for 40, we will look at UAB’s record against the top four rankings.

#1 –
The Blazers have played the #1 team in the country six times. Although they have never beaten #1, twice they have come within at least three points.
- The first time UAB played #1 was in 1980 when Depaul came to Birmingham to play UAB. UAB was playing in its second season ever and having the #1 team in the country come to Birmingham was a tremendous accomplishment by Coach Bartow. Ray Meyer’s Blue Demons had been in the final four the previous year and was 15-0, ranked #1 in the country and coming to the heart of football country. The largest home crowd ever to watch the Blazer, 17,309 showed up on a rainy night at the BJCC Coliseum to watch the game. UAB stayed close the entire game, but could not pull out the win, losing 57-54.
- On November 28, 1987, UAB faced #1 Syracuse in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Blazers lost 79-63.
- On December 1, 1990, UAB traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to take on #1 UNLV. It was one of the worst scheduling mistakes Gene Bartow ever made. On November 30, the Blazers had played and won a hard fought battle against Auburn. Immediately after the game, the team jumped on a plane to fly cross country to Vancouver to play UNLV the next night. Although the Running Rebels were #1 in the country and were defending national champions, they had been playing under the cloud of the NCAA and suddenly had hope for the season when the NCAA had just reversed their decision to ban UNLV from defending their title and allowed them to compete in post season play. UAB was the victim of their celebrations. The Blazers suffered the worst loss in their history, losing by 41 points, 109-68. UAB had 29 turnovers in the game. Gene Bartow, who had seen a lot of good teams in his career said this UNLV team was the best he had ever seen.
- On 2/5/2000, UAB hosted its second ever #1 team when the #1 Cincinnati Bearcats came to Bartow Arena. The Bearcats were led by Kenyon Martin. Bartow Arena was packed with 9279 people crammed into the stands. It was the largest crowd ever at Bartow Arena at the time. Kenyon Martin showed why he was the Player of the Year for that season. He scored 31 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had 7 blocks as Cincinnati beat the Blazers 93-80. A month later, Martin broke his leg in the CUSA tournament and Cinncinnati’s chance at a national championship were dashed.
- In a game many UAB fans will never forget, the next #1 team UAB played was on 2/16/2008 when conference rival Memphis came to Bartow Arena. In a hard fought close battle, the Blazers blew a seven point lead with under 2 minutes to go. Memphis went ahead on a three point play with 6.5 seconds to go. Robert Vaden’s desperation shot fell short and Lawrence Kinnard made the putback, but it came after the buzzer. 25-0 Memphis escaped with a 79-78 win.
- The last #1 team UAB has played was at Duke on January 5, 2011. The Blue Devils won 85-64.

#2
UAB has had slightly better luck against teams ranked second. They have played #2 on seven occasions and have won twice.
- The first game against #2 came in the Kentucky Invitational on December 20, 1980. UAB played #2 Kentucky in the championship game in Rupp Arena. UAB played a hard fought game but lost to the Wildcats 61-53. These two teams would be played again a few months later in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the NCAA tournament and have a different outcome that would put UAB on the basketball map.
- On January 23, 1982, UAB played #2 Depaul in Chicago and lost 79-68. This was only the second time UAB had played on national television, the first time being in the 1981 NCAA Tournament.
- On November 24, 1984, UAB faced #2 Illinois in the Great Alaska Shootout semifinals. UAB won the game, 59-52 and would go on to win the tournament by beating another ranked team #19 Kansas.
- On 1/30/1991, UAB played Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas team at the height of the 40 Minutes of Hell run. Future UAB coach Mike Anderson sat next to Nolan as their #2 Razorback team dismantled UAB 104-72.
- UAB’s second win over a #2 ranked team came in the 2004 NCAA tournament. Although Kentucky was the over #1 seed in the tournament, they were #2 in the latest AP poll. UAB won on a last second shot as Mo Finley hit a sweet outside jumper with seconds on the clock and UAB won 76-75 to advance to the Sweet 16.
- On March 8, 2008, UAB had a rematch against Memphis, who had almost lost the Blazers in Bartow Arena when they were the #1 team in the country. In the last game of the season, UAB traveled to Memphis to face the Tigers who had dropped to #2. Memphis got their revenge for the close game which resulted in a drop in the rankings by beating the Blazers 94-56, the second worst loss in UAB history.
- The last time UAB played a #2 team was on November 26, 2014. This was a grueling holiday tournament in the Bahamas in which UAB played three ranked teams in three days. The first game they played in Bahama hell was against #2 Wisconsin. Blazers were completely outmanned and lost 72-43.

#3
As the rankings go down, UAB’s wins increase. UAB has three wins against #3 ranked teams and 5 losses.
- The first win over a #3 ranked team was perhaps the biggest win in UAB history. On March 17, 1982, UAB defeated 3rd ranked Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight in only its fourth year of existence. Virginia was led by 7’4 Ralph Sampson, but UAB double and triple-teamed him, and came away with a 68-66 win.
- On 1/14/1984, UAB traveled to Chicago to play #3 ranked Depaul. Depaul was a powerhouse in the early 1980’s and the Blazers played them every year. Some years they gave them good games. This was not one of them. UAB was beaten 98-63, the fifth worst loss in UAB history.
- On 12/28/1984, UAB played #3 ranked Duke in the Trojan Classic in Los Angeles, California. Mike Krzyzewski had only been at Duke for five years but was starting to put together a dynasty. This team was led by Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker and had a bench warmer named Jay Bilas. Duke shot almost 60% from the field and beat the Blazers 76-62.
- On January 21, 1996, the Blazers upset the highest ranked team they had ever beaten at home when they beat the #3 Cincinnati Bearcats 70-68. The 1995-96 Blazer team was Gene Bartow’s last team and although the overall season was not very successful, Coach Bartow pulled some amazing upsets with the team. Cincinnati had ruled the Great Midwest Conference and this game would be the first time the two teams played in the new CUSA conference. Although the Bearcats had ruled the conference, they had only beaten UAB one time in six tries. Cedric Dixon had 25 points as UAB pulled the upset over the 3rd ranked team in the country.
- On November 19, 1999, UAB traveled to Auburn, who was ranked 3rd in the country in the opening game of the season for both teams. UAB lost 65-59.
- On 1/26/2006, UAB played the first of two conference games against #3 Memphis. The first game was at Memphis and UAB lost 73-66. The game was between two top teams in CUSA. UAB’s defense forced 19 turnovers from Memphis, but was not enough as the Tigers won 73-66. What I remember most about this game was a thunderous dunk by a Memphis player with one second on the clock and the game already decided. Amid boos from the Tiger crowd, Mike Anderson called timeout with one second left. I don’t know what he said, but I believe he was already coaching the team for the rematch in Birmingham, telling them to remember that dunk when the Tigers came to Bartow.
- On 3/2/2006, the Tigers did come to Bartow Arena and were still ranked #3, hoping to get a top seed in the NCAA tournament. UAB’s defense held Memphis over 8 minutes without scoring and the Blazers pulled the upset 80-74 before a sellout crowd.
- The last time UAB played a #3 team was December 30, 2006 when they faced Florida in Orange Bowl Classic. Florida was the defending national champion and would repeat in 2006-2007 as national champions. The team returned all five starters from the championship team and featured Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Corey Brewer. Florida trailed for most of the game but went 7-of-8 from the free throw line over the final 2:11 and rallied past UAB 75-70. Wen Mukubu led the Blazers with 20 points.

#4
UAB has only played the #4 ranked team on two occasions and have won one and lost one.
- On December 12, 1981, UAB traveled to Wichita State to take on the Shockers, ranked 4th in the country. This game was a matchup between two ranked teams, because UAB was undefeated and ranked 9th in the country. 21 turnovers and poor free throw shooting doomed the Blazers, who went down in defeat 75-60. Oliver Robinson led the Blazers with 17 points.
- On 2/6/1988, UAB hosted #4 Brigham Young at the BJCC Coliseum. With a win over UAB, BYU would most likely move up to #1 in the country because the three teams in front of them had all lost that week. However they found that a win in Birmingham against UAB was not an easy thing. The Blazers won 102-83 and insured that the top four teams in the country had gone down in defeat. Michael Charles had 24 points in the game, including the points that put him over the 1000 points milestone.
11-29-2018 10:12 AM
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