BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Rod Rucker collected his 10th double-double of the season as Alabama-Birmingham won its fourth straight, defeating Southern Methodist 74-69 Saturday.
Rucker had 21 points and 11 rebounds, including a key layup late. SMU's Nick Russell hit a jumper with 1:48 remaining to pull the Mustangs within 68-67, but Rucker answered with a layup, then he and Jordan Swing combined for four free throws to lock up the win.
The Blazers (15-14, 7-7 Conference USA) trailed 63-61 with 5:48 left when Fahro Alihodzic's layup sparked a 6-0 run for a 67-63 edge.
Ryan Manuel led the Mustangs (14-15, 4-10) with 15 points.
UAB had held opponents under 40 percent shooting in five of its past six halves, but SMU shot 57.7 percent (30 of 52). The Mustangs made just 2 of 9 3-pointers, though, and were dominated 35-25 on rebounds -- the Blazers have edged six straight opponents on the glass.
SMU has signed a second player from Australia, 6-foot-11 forward Harry Froling, to a national letter of intent. The Mustangs previously signed guard Tom Wilson from Australia.
There's nothing to suggest the Jayhawks won't end up atop the Big 12 for a 13th season in a row. But what about a return to the Final Four?
Colorado State graduate transfer John Gillon has chosen Syracuse, giving the Orange a potential starter at point guard entering the 2016-17 season.
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