Alabama-Birmingham has been nearly unbeatable the last three seasons at home, while Tulsa has never won at Bartow Arena.
The teams meet Tuesday night with first place in Conference USA on the line, with the No. 25 Blazers looking to improve to 10-0 at home and end the Golden Hurricane’s seven-game win streak.
This is the only meeting of the season between UAB (17-2, 5-0) and Tulsa (16-3, 5-0) - the lone undefeated teams in C-USA.
“It’s a huge conference game where you only have them once and on the road, and they become a big tiebreaker game in the conference standings,” Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik said.
UAB is 36-2 at Bartow since the start of the 2007-08 season, the only losses coming to Memphis teams ranked in the top 5. Tulsa is 0-4 all-time at UAB, falling by an average of 19.0 points.
“That is a place that we have not won and it will be even more difficult now that they have had such a good season,” Wojcik said. “They have beaten Cincinnati and Butler at home.”
The Blazers won their sixth straight overall Saturday, beating Marshall 61-59 to deal the Thundering Herd their first conference loss. Aaron Johnson’s layup with 7 seconds remaining was the difference.
Johnson is averaging a team-high 4.4 assists and coach Mike Davis felt the guard was snubbed from the C-USA all-freshman team two seasons ago. The guard is shooting a career-high 47.0 percent from the field.
“He worked very hard since then and now this is his basketball team,” Davis said. “We have guys that score more or rebound, but this is his team.”
Howard Crawford scored 19 points to lead UAB, which won its last three games by a total of four points.
“The difference I think between us and Marshall is that we have been in this situation a lot this year,” Davis said. “You don’t want to be in those types of situations, but we have been there before and I think that’s what it came down to.”
The Blazers, though, haven’t had much luck recently in close games against the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa took the last three meetings, winning once in overtime and sweeping two matchups last season by four points combined.
The Golden Hurricane are one of the biggest teams in the conference, with 7-footer Jerome Jordan one of four players 6-6 or taller in the starting lineup. The shortest player is 6-3 guard Ben Uzoh, who averages a team-high 16.3 points.
Uzoh dunked twice over Rice players in a lackluster 62-58 victory over the league’s worst team Saturday. He scored 17 points and Jordan added 11.
“It was real tough to find some energy tonight,” Uzoh said. “We got off to an average, slow start. I think those plays that I had, that sequence in the second half got the crowd into it and got us going. We really needed it.”
UAB was ranked for one week last month and fell out following a loss at Virginia.