MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Lawrence Kinnard scored 12 points to lead No. 24 UAB to a 69-55 victory over SMU in the Conference USA tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
As usual, the Blazers' defense contributed to the offense. UAB forced 26 turnovers, leading to 27 points. When the Mustangs made a small run early in the second half, it was UAB's defense that contributed to a 10-0 spurt that put the game out of reach.
UAB (23-5), which moved into the Top 25 this week after defeating No. 5 Memphis, will play the winner of Southern Mississippi-Texas-El Paso. SMU (13-16), which won its opening round game over Rice 61-59, has never defeated a ranked team in a conference tournament.
Bryan Hopkins led the 10th-seed Mustangs with 13 points, but was 5-of-15 from the field, while Devon Pearson had 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
UAB's swarming defense caused problems from the start as SMU committed 17 turnovers in the first half. UAB took a 36-26 halftime lead. Richard Tobias and Delaney had eight points each for UAB, while Hopkins finally hit a pair of 3-pointers to keep the Mustangs within 10.
Hopkins began penetrating early in the second half and helped SMU cut the lead to 38-32. UAB answered with a 10-0 run, punctuated by Kinnard's midcourt steal and dunk and McDonald's second 3-pointer in the stretch, and the Blazers built the lead back to 48-32.
Kinnard made all six of his shots. UAB led by as many as 25.