The Tigers' farewell tour of Conference USA venues began tonight, appropriately enough, at Bartow Arena in Birmingham. The all-too-routine win was the U of M's 14th straight in its series with UAB. Played as the Bartow Classic, the game has raised funds annually for cancer research in honor of the late Gene Bartow, who coached Memphis to the 1973 NCAA championship game and later founded the program in Birmingham. UAB will remain a C-USA member next season when the Tigers move on to the Big East.
Junior point guard Joe Jackson continued his steady play with 17 points, while sophomore forward Adonis Thomas led the Tigers with 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Tarik Black came off the bench for 10 points and 13 rebounds and senior forward D.J. Stephens added six blocked shots (a new career high).
Memphis raced out to a 13-4 lead, then used a 13-1 run to enter halftime with a 34-20 lead. Unlike their previous two games (against Tennessee and East Carolina), the Tigers didn't allow their opponent to squeeze the scoring margin uncomfortably in the second half. UAB wasn't helped by missing all 13 of its three-point attempts (after missing all 23 long-distance shots in its previous outing). Memphis only made one of 12 shots from beyond the arc.
The win improves the Tigers' record to 12-3 (2-0 in C-USA play). They travel to Rice for their next game on Wednesday before returning to FedExForum to host Harvard on Saturday, January 19th. Memphis and UAB will play again at FEF on March 9th, the regular-season finale.