MURRAY -- It was a tale of two halves for University Heights Academy Monday but Blazer Nation got a pretty good glimpse at the school's next standout point guard.
KJ Crump scored a game-high 36 points but the Blazers fell to Murray, 89-77, Monday on the road to start their season.
The Blazers didn't come out with much urgency in the contest as they fell behind 30-11 after the first and faced a 53-30 deficit at the half.
But the second half for the Blazers was something to build on.
UHA coach Grant Shouse said the shift started when he team didn't have the ball.
"I think just our approach on the defensive end," he said. "With our size, we have to play very aggressively on defense and not just wild and crazy, but we've got to be disciplined, we've got to play together and I thought we were slow to the ball, I thought we were slow to react. Give up 30 at the end of the quarter, I put 30 on the board and said 'you're not going to beat anybody giving up 30.' "
The Blazers outscored Murray 27-13 in the third quarter and cut the deficit to seven, but that would be as close as they would get.
Crump erupted for 16 points in the third, including four 3-pointers, to get UHA back in the game.
"I think he responded well," Shouse said of Crump. "He takes things personally when we get down like that. He obviously decided he was going to take it upon himself there in that third quarter to score points. I didn't realize he had that many until I looked on the board and saw it.
"We need guys to score. I think we'll be better with a more balanced approach even though we had a couple of other guys in double figures. I think the bottom line here is you just can't give up that many points."
Crump said he saw an opening in the frame and took advantage of it.
"Everybody was sluggish so I just thought that's what you do as a leader, you've got to pick your boys up and kind of take control of the game," he said.
Crump knew he'd have an expanded role this season but he said he didn't feel any pressure because he's pretty comfortable with the guys around him.
"We've been playing together since eighth-grade and my role kind of just went back to what it was in the eighth-grade," he said. "Being more of a leader, controlling the game, which I kind of failed to do tonight."
Blazers guard Grant Whitaker led the team with 31 points. A turning point in the third came in the final seconds when UHA held the ball to try for the last shot but a missed layup turned into a Tiger bucket on the other end and a nine-point deficit heading to the fourth.
Despite the loss, Shouse said there's still plenty of basketball to play this season as the ultimate test doesn't come until the district tournament.
"They're all dress rehearsals when you look down to it," he said.
UHA has a few days off before it heads to the Marshall County Hoopfest. The Blazers will take on Fifth Region power John Hardin. The Bulldogs didn't lose a regular-season game last season.
The Blazers and Bulldogs hit the court at 10 p.m. Friday.
Murray 89, UHA 77
UHA (0-1) 11 19 27 20--77
Murray (1-0) 30 23 13 23--89
UHA: KJ Crump 36, DJ Quarles 14, Will Bryan 11, Amani McGee 8, Weston Wood 8
Murray: Boggess 14, Q. McCallister 14, C. McCallister 6, Whitaker 31, Taylor 13, Duffy 9