PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Michael Frazier scored 14 points, Chris Chiozza added 13 points, and No. 18 Florida survived another rough offensive night to beat Alabama-Birmingham 56-47 in the consolation round at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday night.
Kasey Hill’s layup with 1:26 left — just the second 2-point basket after halftime for Florida — put the Gators up 51-47 and they held on from there, despite shooting 34 percent from the field.
Tosin Mehinti and Robert Brown each scored 12 points for UAB (2-4), which led by seven early and was up 47-45 with 3:59 remaining.
Florida then finished the game on an 11-0 run.
The Blazers made 9 of their first 23 shots, then made 9 of their next 13 during one stretch of the second half. But that wasn’t enough to help UAB shake free of the Gators.
UAB shot 42 percent, but turned the ball over 16 times and Florida converted those giveaways into 24 points.
The Gators trailed by seven after 7 minutes, then outscored UAB by 14 points before taking a 27-22 lead into the half. The Gators missed 10 of their first 11 shots from inside the arc after halftime.
The win sends Florida into Friday night’s fifth-place game against No. 5 North Carolina. UAB will have to wait until its regularly scheduled matchup on Dec. 27 before facing the Tar Heels — a game that will mark the third straight year in which North Carolina coach Roy Williams matches wits with his former player and assistant, Blazers coach Jerod Haase.
Florida: The Gators debuted new blue uniforms. … Florida came into the game tied for 229th nationally in scoring, averaging 65.3 points per game. That average dropped to 63.4 on Friday. The Gators were hardly an offensive juggernaut last season, averaging 69.9 points per game and getting to the Final Four anyway.
UAB: This marked the first time the Blazers have faced back-to-back ranked opponents since meeting then-No. 19 Louisville and No. 25 Butler on Dec. 27-30, 2008. … UAB has 10 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, and the team had a combined seven years of college experience entering the season.
The dress code for coaches at the Battle 4 Atlantis is “resort casual,” which basically means polo shirts and slacks. UAB and Florida are both Nike schools, and the staffs just happened to be wearing the same style shirt on Thursday night — a white-and-gray horizontal-striped polo, the obvious difference being a Gator logo on one, a UAB logo on the other. Florida’s staff was in sneakers, UAB’s in leather dress shoes.
Take away a 23-assist, seven-turnover showing against Division II Young Harris, and UAB has struggled mightily with that ratio this season. Against five Division I opponents, the Blazers now have 55 assists and 83 turnovers this season, including a 13-assist, 16-turnover showing against the Gators.
Florida: Faces No. 5 North Carolina in Friday’s fifth-place game.
UAB: Faces No. 22 UCLA in Friday’s seventh-place game.
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