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Delaney’s FT lifts UAB over Arizona

UAB (3-0)

Kinnard 6-14 0-1 16, Vaden 8-16 0-0 20, Johnson 1-3 1-3 4, Delaney III 3-9 4-8 10, Toney 2-5 0-0 5, Roderick 5-9 0-0 12, Berrios 1-1 0-0 3, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Crawford 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 27-60 5-12 72.

ARIZONA (1-1)

Onobun 1-1 0-0 2, Budinger 9-17 5-6 27, Horne 5-10 0-0 10, Hill 6-14 1-6 13, Wise 4-15 6-6 14, Judkins 1-5 1-2 3, Lavender 0-0 0-0 0, Fogg 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-63 13-20 71.

Halftime – UAB 41-31. 3-Point Goals – UAB 13-30 (Vaden 4-8, Kinnard 4-10, Roderick 2-4, Berrios 1-1, Johnson 1-1, Toney 1-2, Delaney III 0-4), Arizona 4-16 (Budinger 4-8, Judkins 0-1, Horne 0-2, Wise 0-5). Fouled Out – Toney. Rebounds – UAB 29 (Kinnard 8), Arizona 47 (Hill 22). Assists – UAB 18 (Johnson 7), Arizona 18 (Wise 9). Total Fouls – UAB 20, Arizona 14. A – 13,124.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tied at 71-71, UAB and Arizona appeared headed for overtime.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Arizona’s Jamelle Horne was called for an intentional foul near midcourt with .8 seconds left, and Paul Delaney III hit a free throw to lead the Blazers to a 72-71 victory on Tuesday night to advance to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

The Blazers (3-0) will meet No. 12 Oklahoma, which beat No. 21 Davidson 82-78, in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 26.

“We were prepared to go into OT,” UAB’s Lawrence Kinnard said. “When he fouled Paul, it was like a blessing.”

It seemed more like a curse for Arizona (1-1), which staged a valiant rally only to lose in stunning fashion.

“The kids are in there (in the dressing room), you’ve got guys bawling their eyes out,” Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell said.

Robert Vaden scored 20 points and Kinnard added 16 for UAB, which hit 13-of-30 shots from beyond the arc.

“We’re ready to get to New York and try to make some noise,” Vaden said.

Arizona’s Jordan Hill scored 13 points and pulled down a preseason NIT-record 22 rebounds, while Chase Budinger had 27 points and Nic Wise had 14 points and nine assists.

The Wildcats trailed 47-33 two minutes into the second half and by nine points with 4:39 to play. But they tied it at 70 when freshman Kyle Fogg scored on a putback with 25 seconds to play.

Then Fogg, apparently not realizing the score was tied, fouled Aaron Johnson on the inbounds pass.

Arizona caught a break when Johnson missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Wildcats rebounded and called timeout.

Nic Wise dribbled down the clock, then missed a fallaway jumper with three seconds to play.

Overtime seemed certain. But Delaney emerged from a scramble on his own baseline and raced toward midcourt. Before he could fire off a last-gasp heave, Horne grabbed him.

“I saw the guy with the ball going 94 feet,” a distraught Horne said. “The last thing I wanted to do was for somebody to go down for an uncontested shot. I didn’t see anybody in front of me so I tried to foul him. The ref called — I don’t know, whatever he called.

“Hopefully, we all take this as a learning experience,” Horne said. “I know I will.”

As the McKale Center crowd watched in shock, Delaney hit one free throw and UAB inbounded the ball to clinch the win.

“Jamelle, I just don’t think (he) had a clock in his head,” Pennell said. “He was kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. Instead of just letting him go, he made a poor decision, and he’s broken up about it.

“It was not a heads-up play, but we told him we were 13-of-20 from the free throw line,” Pennell said. “You hit two more free throws and you win the game.”

The Wildcats have lost 12 of their last 35 games in once-impregnable McKale Center over the last two-plus seasons. By comparison, they lost 11 home games from 1987 to 2000.

The Blazers weren’t the least bit intimidated by the less-than-capacity crowd of 13,124.

The Blazers hit four 3-pointers in the final 5:32 of the first half to open a 41-31 halftime lead. UAB went 7-for-14 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Vaden opened the second half by hitting a 3 to push UAB’s lead to 44-31. Another 3-pointer, by Kinnard, made it 47-33.

That’s when Arizona made its charge, outscoring the Blazers 38-25 over the final 18:46. But all that did was set up a painful ending.

“We were up against it a couple times, and I thought our guys really showed some great resolve to fight back,” Pennell said. “That was probably the thing I was most proud of.”