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Crum bids farewell at home

By ANTONYA ENGLISH

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001


LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With 30 years of his career accomplishments highlighted on banners throughout the arena and a near-capacity crowd chanting his name, Denny Crum walked out of Freedom Hall for the final time Wednesday night as Louisville's basketball coach.

Crum's career ended on his home court as UAB defeated Louisville 74-61 in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.

The 64-year-old Hall of Fame coach announced his retirement last week, after weeks of speculation that he would be forced out at the end of the season.

With 52 seconds remaining and UAB's LeAndrew Bass standing at the free-throw line, the crowd began chanting Crum's name. When the final buzzer sounded and Crum took his last walk through the tunnel, he left to a standing ovation.

"This obviously isn't the way we wanted it to end, but UAB played better and they deserved to win," Crum said. "I don't know how to explain my emotions. I've been more than blessed.

"I feel like I'm one of the luckiest guys that came down the pike. ... I made a decision a long time ago to stay here. But I can honestly say I wouldn't change a thing. I have no regrets."

For the first 20 minutes, it looked like the Cardinals might be able to extend Crum's career one more game.

Despite shooting 28 percent from the field (9-of-32) in the first half, Louisville trailed just 27-23 at halftime. UAB shot 46 percent from the field in the first half, but never led by more than three.

UAB took a 34-25 lead two minutes into the second half, but behind the three-point shooting of Bryant Northern and Reece Gaines, Louisville pulled within 40-35. It was as close as the Cardinals would get.

Leading by five, UAB went on a 9-1 run to put the game out of reach. Unable to get its inside game going, the Cardinals had to rely on outside shots that didn't fall. Louisville shot 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range.

Meanwhile, UAB was getting offensive production from everywhere on the floor, shooting 64 percent from the field in the second half. UAB went 8-of-10 from the line in the final three minutes.

"I'm obviously very, very pleased with the win, but it was very emotional at the end," UAB coach Murry Bartow said. "Denny is a legend in our profession -- with two national championships and six Final Fours. I am glad to be on the winning side, but it was incredibly touching in that last minute."

SAINT LOUIS 78, HOUSTON 65: Maurice Jeffers scored 20 and grabbed eight rebounds for the seventh-seeded Billikens.

Jason Edwin had 14 points, Marque Perry 13 and Chris Braun 10 as Saint Louis won its fourth game in a row.

George Williams scored 17, Patrick Okafor 15, Alton Ford 12 and Dominic Smith 10 to lead Houston. Okafor had 13 rebounds and Ford 11 for the 10th-seeded Cougars, who outrebounded Saint Louis 37-32.

Saint Louis led by five at halftime and increased the lead to 44-38 with 15:50 left. A 7-0 run, capped by Jeffers' long three-pointer, put the Billikens up 51-38 at the 14-minute mark, and they were not challenged the rest of the way.

MARQUETTE 72, TULANE 67: Cordell Henry scored 16 and Oluoma Nnamaka added13 as the Golden Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak.

Brian Wardle added 12 and John Mueller chipped in 11.

Brandon Brown and Lindon Johnson each had 17 to lead Tulane, which lost its eighth consecutive game.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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