PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Alternating wins and losses through the season's first five games is not exactly what a program like Florida aspires to do.
These days, small steps are going to have to be good enough for the Gators.
Michael Frazier scored 14 points, Chris Chiozza added 13 points, and No. 18 Florida survived another shaky offensive performance to beat Alabama-Birmingham 56-47 in the consolation round at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday night.
''As much as we're 3-2 right now, we could have won every single game and we could have lost every single game,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said. ''That's the reality. When you play against high-level competition, that's what ends up happening. We could have easily lost today.''
It took an 11-0, game-ending run to save Florida in this one and give the Gators a chance at a two-win trip to the Bahamas. Kasey Hill's layup with 1:26 left - just the second 2-point basket after halftime for Florida - put the Gators up 51-47 and they held on from there, despite shooting 34 percent from the field.
Tosin Mehinti and Robert Brown each scored 12 points for UAB (2-4), which led by seven early and was up 47-45 with 3:59 remaining.
''It's a loss that hurts a lot,'' UAB coach Jerod Haase said. ''I think the guys gave a tremendous effort. Our big thing that we talked about from the end of last night's game (against No. 2 Wisconsin) until today was `Play as hard as you possibly can' and I think our guys did that.''
The Blazers made 9 of their first 23 shots, then made 9 of their next 13 during one stretch of the second half. But that wasn't enough to help UAB shake free of the Gators.
UAB shot 42 percent, but turned the ball over 16 times and Florida converted those giveaways into 24 points.
''This shows us how hard we have to go out and compete every night,'' Blazers forward C.J. Washington said.
The Gators trailed by seven after 7 minutes, then outscored UAB by 14 points before taking a 27-22 lead into the half. The Gators missed 10 of their first 11 shots from inside the arc after halftime.
The win sends Florida into Friday night's fifth-place game against No. 5 North Carolina. UAB will have to wait until its regularly scheduled matchup on Dec. 27 before facing the Tar Heels - a game that will mark the third straight year in which North Carolina coach Roy Williams matches wits with Haase, his former player at Kansas and assistant with the Jayhawks and Tar Heels.
Florida: Eli Carter (sore foot) was held out and his status for Friday is unknown. ... The Gators debuted new blue uniforms. ... Florida came into the game tied for 229th nationally in scoring, averaging 65.3 points per game. That average dropped to 63.4 after Thursday's contest.
UAB: This marked the first time the Blazers have faced back-to-back ranked opponents since meeting then-No. 19 Louisville and No. 25 Butler on Dec. 27-30, 2008. ... UAB has 10 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, and the team had a combined seven years of college experience entering the season.
The dress code for coaches at the Battle 4 Atlantis is ''resort casual,'' which basically means polo shirts and slacks. UAB and Florida are both Nike schools, and the staffs just happened to be wearing the same style shirt on Thursday night - a white polo with horizontal stripes. Florida's staff was in sneakers, UAB's in leather dress shoes.
Take away a 23-assist, seven-turnover showing against Division II Young Harris, and UAB has struggled mightily with that ratio this season. Against five Division I opponents, the Blazers now have 55 assists and 83 turnovers this season, including a 13-assist, 16-turnover showing against the Gators.
Florida: Faces No. 5 North Carolina in Friday's fifth-place game.
UAB: Faces No. 22 UCLA in Friday's seventh-place game.