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UAB-Memphis Preview

AP - Sports

Memphis has its record sixth outright Conference USA title locked up, as well as the top spot in next week's league tournament.

Still, the 25th-ranked Tigers have something left to accomplish in their final regular-season C-USA game.

Memphis will try to cap its fourth perfect run through C-USA play on Saturday when it goes for a 15th straight victory over Alabama-Birmingham.

After its 18-game winning streak ended with a 64-62 loss to Atlantic-10 foe Xavier on Feb. 26, Memphis (26-4, 15-0) clinched its second consecutive and eighth Conference USA regular-season title last Saturday with a 76-67 victory over Central Florida.

The Tigers, who'll join the Big East this summer after 18 years in C-USA, also clinched the No. 1 seed in the league tournament that starts Wednesday in Tulsa.

Memphis is back home following a three-game stretch on the road that ended Tuesday with a 56-54 victory over UTEP. Adonis Thomas had 11 points and nine rebounds, Geron Johnson added four points, seven assists and a career-best 10 rebounds and Chris Crawford led the Tigers with 15 points.

"We had to grind it out and find a way," said coach Josh Pastner, whose team has won 22 straight over C-USA opponents, which includes a run through last year's conference tournament.

Memphis will also try to extend its dominance over the Blazers (15-15, 7-8) after beating them 69-53 on Jan. 12. Thomas had a game-high 19 points while leading scorer Joe Jackson added 17.

UAB hasn't defeated the Tigers since March 2, 2006, and it's lost 13 straight in Memphis since Jan. 2, 1999.

If they can't ruin the Tigers' Senior Day, the Blazers can basically forget about earning the fifth and final first-round bye in the league tournament. With UCF serving a postseason ban, UAB is currently tied for fifth with Tulsa, which travels to league-worst Rice on Saturday night.

If the Blazers drop to No. 6 or 7, the earliest they could face Memphis again would be the C-USA title game.

That's not an altogether bad position to be in, but UAB was hoping to be in a better spot heading into the regular-season finale. The Blazers' season-best four-game winning streak ended with Wednesday's 74-70 home loss to UCF.

"We probably didn't play with same edge that we have the past several games, but our kids still played hard," coach Jerod Haase told the team's official website. "We outrebounded them and fought down the stretch to come back in a game where we were down 10 points late. We made a conscious effort to protect the paint at all costs. We did a good job of that and we wanted them to shoot a lot of three pointers with a hand in their face. They just made a bunch of them (an opponent season-high 13)."

Memphis missed 11 of 12 from long range on Jan. 12, but UAB didn't hit any of its 13 attempts.

Blazers forward Rod Rucker, the league's reigning player of the week, had 16 points and 11 rebounds in that contest.

Tigers senior D.J. Stephens, the league leader with 70 blocks, had a career-best six in that matchup. He should see action after being limited to eight minutes on Tuesday due to his asthma.

Memphis won 79-45 in UAB's last visit on Feb. 11, 2012.

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