When you consider the UAB Blazers' style of play, they really seem to have to do things the hard way. And they have to play some very solid defense in order to compete.
That is something the Southern Miss Golden Eagles aspire to do as well. But where they show great fundamentals in some areas, they sorely lack in others.
These Conference USA squads will get together on Saturday afternoon at the Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, MS.
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ABOUT UAB: Thursday night's game with Louisiana Tech was slow-paced, to be certain, and the Blazers never got in the groove as they fell by a 64-53 score, tallying only 22 points in the first half of play. They did an awful job of drawing fouls, taking only five free throw attempts the entire game, and maybe it is not completely unexpected since only 15.9% of their points have come at the charity stripe. But that was not the only problem, as UAB (now 10-6) made just 21 of 56 shots from the field (37.5%). Zack Bryant had 10 points, while Jalen Perry scored 13 and added nine rebounds. UAB continues to have difficulty shooting from long-range; they are now 29% from beyond the arc, which is 330th in the nation. This is a team that has to control the clock and play a very tight defensive game to come away with wins, and generally, they can do well against teams that rely heavily on the triple, as they have held opponents below 30% from out there. Bryant has scored in double figures in eight straight games, but over these last three games, he's made just 12 of 39 shots (30.8%). Lewis Sullivan did not have a very good game against Louisiana Tech, but he has been a pretty efficient shooter, ranking tenth in Conference USA in Effective Field Goal Percentage. The Blazers' last three wins against Division I teams have come by double-digits (we're not including the 75-67 victory over Arkansas-Monticello, which was more or less a warm-up game).
ABOUT SOUTHERN MISS: Doc Sadler's team built a 16-point lead in the second half and held on for a 77-70 victory over Middle Tennessee last time out. That produce their first Conference USA win and brought their record to 9-7. The Golden Eagles shot 50% from three-point range, and exhibited some pretty good ball movement, with 21 assists on 28 made baskets. That's a very high percentage; consider that the national average on field goals by way of an assist is 52.2%. Leading scorer Cortez Edwards was held to just seven points on 4-of-14 shooting, but he contributed eight rebounds and eight assists. Tyree Griffin, who had seven steals in the previous game against North Texas, did not have one here, but he scored 21 points, matching his season high. The high-quality wins are still really not there for Southern Miss, but they are going to be a difficult path for almost any Conference USA team to cross, especially as they do a good job controlling tempo (281st among the 353 D-I teams) and are also very good at forcing teams out toward the three-point arc. And since they defend well on the outside (allowing less than 33% from downtown), their opponents had better be on the mark if they are going to win. Fortunately for them, UAB is not a "dead-eye" team fro long range (just shy of 29%).
1. Southern Miss has to make a bigger effort to hit the boards o the offensive end. They have pulled down an offensive rebound after just 21% of their misses, and that figure is a lowly 341st in the nation.
2. It is kind of rare that a team would have four seniors in the rotation, but that is the case with Southern Miss, which is, statistically speaking, the 22nd most experienced team in the country.
3. Both UAB and Southern Miss are outside the nation's top 300 as far as free throw percentage is concerned.
PREDICTION: Southern Miss 70, UAB 60 Bet Now
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