BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (ODUSports.com) - The Old Dominion men's basketball team (12-6, 8-4 C-USA) took down UAB (17-5, 10-4 C-USA) by a 65-58 score at Bartow Arena on Saturday afternoon. Xavier Green led the way for ODU, scoring a season high 16 points (3-3 3PT), to go along with five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The Monarchs have won three of their last four games, as well as 10 of their last 14 contests.
A Mekhi Long three-pointer extended the Monarchs lead to five after UAB pulled within two with 4:55 left in the second half. Green then drilled a three-pointer and was fouled, converting on a four-point play, pushing Old Dominion’s advantage to seven, 55-48, at the 3:46 mark. Green went on to score six of ODU’s next seven points, expanding the lead to eight (58-50) with 2:12 to play.
With 34 seconds left, UAB would cut its deficit down to four, 62-58, but would get no closer as the Monarchs sealed the deal at the free-throw line. For the game, Old Dominion shot 86% (18-21) from the charity stripe and outrebounded UAB, 42-34.
“We rebounded better today and competed better on those 50/50 balls,” said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. “While we didn’t shoot as well from the floor today, we did get to the free-throw line and we made them count there. Xavier Green was outstanding for us and obviously we don’t win this game without his contributions.”
Malik Curry finished with 11 points (7-8 FT), four rebounds and a game-high five assists. Jaylin Hunter scored nine points (2-2 FG, 4-4 FT) and had a game-high three steals. Also scoring nine points was Long, who hauled down four rebounds as well. A.J. Oliver II went for eight points, four rebounds and two steals. Kalu Ezikpe grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Eight Monarchs played and seven scored at least six points. UAB’s Tavin Lovan, who scored a game-high 25 points on Friday was held to just two points on Saturday. ODU led for 28:47 of the total 40 minutes, while the Blazers possessed a lead for 5:12.
“When you look at the stat sheet and see Lovan had two points, the job that Xavier Green did defensively was tremendous,” Jones said.
UAB quickly erased its four-point first half deficit, tying the contest at 31-31 with 17:30 to play in the second half. ODU responded with five straight points to claim a 36-31 advantage at the first media timeout of the second frame (15:47).
The Blazers rattled off 10 of the game’s next 12 points to take a 41-38 lead at the 11:42 mark. Two Oliver II treys and a Hunter fastbreak layup had ODU on an 8-0 run, forcing a UAB timeout with Old Dominion leading 46-41 with 9:14 to play.
In all three road league games that the Monarchs lost on Friday (FIU, Rice and UAB), ODU came back to win all three games on Saturday. Old Dominion is 5-1 on Saturdays in C-USA play so far this season. ODU has won six of the last nine meetings against UAB.
Green connected on his first four attempts from the floor (2-2 3PT) to start the contest, sparking a 10-0 ODU run, which gave the Monarchs a 29-20 advantage at the 2:32 mark of the first half.
The Blazers scored the final five points of the opening 20 minutes, narrowing their gap to four, 29-25, heading into the locker rooms.
Green scored a half-high 10 points on 4-4 shooting from the floor, to go along with three rebounds, two steals and one block. Ezikpe hauled down a half-high six rebounds, while Curry dished out a half-high four assists.
In the first frame, ODU led for 12:03, while UAB held a lead for 4:01. The Monarchs had an 11-6 advantage for points off turnovers in the first half.
With the win, the Monarchs remain in sole possession of second place in the Conference USA East Division. The top two teams from each division receive a first round bye in the 2021 Conference USA Tournament, which will be held in Frisco Texas.
For a complete look at the C-USA standings, please click here [conferenceusa.com].
Old Dominion will return to the hardwood on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, when the Monarchs welcome Middle Tennessee to Chartway Arena for a pair of 7 p.m. tipoffs. The two games against the Blue Raiders are the last scheduled home regular season games for ODU. Both games will stream on ESPN+.
“We will bus to Atlanta tonight and fly out tomorrow morning, we should get back to campus around noon tomorrow,” concluded Jones. “Most people don’t realize the close games Middle Tennessee has been in and how hard they play. We are going to make sure our players respect them and next weekend will be two absolutely huge games for us.”