The greater college basketball world is on notice as Jordan “Jelly” Walker casually dropped 38 points to open the 2022-2023 season.
Walker scored 13 points in the first half and took command to open the second frame as the Blazers cruised to a 111-70 season-opening victory over Alabama State, Monday, Nov. 7, at Bartow Arena in Birmingham.
UAB (1-0) had four players in double figures and shot 53 percent overall, 43 percent (9-of-21) from beyond the arc, and 34-of-45 from the charity stripe. The Blazers scored more than 100 points in a season-opener for the fourth time in program history, their second straight season to do so against a Division I team.
Defensively, the Blazers held Alabama State to 32 percent overall and forced 15 turnovers, but allowed the Hornets to hit 38 percent of its 3-point attempts.
Ledarrius Brewer got the party started for UAB, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the first half, going 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and helping guide the Blazers to a 53-34 halftime lead. The ETSU transfer added 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.
Trey “The Mayor” Jemison set the tone for UAB in the opening moments, attacking the rim with ferocity and force and contesting every rebound and shot attempt within his gravitational pull. The senior center finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds and had 2 of the team’s 7 blocks.
In the first half, Walker was patient with the ball and allowed the defensive focus to shift as Brewer, Jemison and Eric Gaines, who had 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, powered UAB’s early offensive success. The senior point guard took control in the final two minutes, scoring UAB’s final 9 points of the half, and carried the momentum into the final frame.
Walker matched his first-half scoring in the first five minutes of the second half and reeled off a total of 22 points in the first 12 minutes before ending his night on a layup with a little more than five minutes remaining in the game. He finished with a game-high 38 points on 11-of-19 shooting, 5-for-9 on 3-point attempts and a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe, and added 3 assists and 2 steals while giving up no turnovers in the game.
Kennedy cleared the bench late in the second half, going 12-deep and all but two players contributing points to the box score. KJ Buffen finished with 8 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, adding 2 blocks, and Ty Brewer had 7 points and 6 rebounds. Tony Toney scored 6 points, and Tavin Lovan and Efrem “Butta” Johnson each had 5 points, the former with 2 steals. Javian Davis added 4 points and 6 rebounds.
The Blazers return to action, Friday, Nov. 11, against Toledo in the Barstool Sports Invitational at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. on the Barstool Sports YouTube channel.