The Mocs could use an early Christmas present. A nice win over anyone would be good, but a win over a quality program like UAB would be huge. UAB is 8-2, having only lost to New Mexico and Temple. They have beaten the likes of Northeastern, Rutgers, Nebraska, North Carolina and the SoCon's own Georgia Southern.
Yes, this is going to be a very tough game. It is going to be very hard for the Mocs to win in Birmingham on Wednesday night. If Z Mason does not return from his toe injury (he was listed as day-to-day at last notice), then it is tough to come up with any way the Mocs can win.
UAB does not force a lot of turnovers. In fact, they are the worst team in the country at forcing turnovers. However, they are one of the best teams in the country at eFG% defense. Opponents are shooting just 26.5% from three point range, good for 12th best in the whole country. They also are 45th in the country in DR%. How the Mocs will handle the Blazers defense is going to be a real challenge. They will need to come up with some shots by the likes of Martynas Bareika (scored 29 against Northern Kentucky) and Alex Bran (another pure shooter) to hopefully open up a few lanes for the likes of Greg Pryor and Gee McGhee to drive to the basket, and hopefully open up the inside for Mason if he is playing.
Offensively, UAB is good too. They do not shoot a high percentage and turn the ball over too much. They rank 258th in the country in two point field goal percentage and 183rd in three point field goal percentage. That's not particularly good. But, the Blazers are 6th in the country in OR%. They really crash the offensive glass. That is one of the Blazers main source of offense.
Fahro Alihodzic is 6-10, and is averaging 7.4 rebounds and 9.8 points per game. He is shooting only 43% from the floor, which is not good for a player of his height who has not shot a three pointer all season.
CJ Washington is 6-8, but the best three point shooter (percentage-wise) on the team. He is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game, and is the second leading scorer at 14.1 points per game. He is shooting 41.7% from three point range.
Jordan Swing has made more threes on the year than Washington. Swing has made 11 threes on the year (compared to Washington), but is shooting just 30.4% from long range. Still, the Mocs will need to guard him, as he is the type of shooter that tends to have an explosive game against the Mocs.
Chad Frazier has made 17 threes on the year, shooting 40.5% from three point range. He is averaging 19.2 points per game to go along with 3.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He leads the team in assists, but he is committing 4.6 turnovers per game. He is 6-4 and going to be another tough match-up for the Mocs.
Rod Rucker is only 6-5, but he is the team's leading rebounder at 8.7 per game. He is the third Blazer to average in double figures with 11.8 points per game. Robert Williams is the Blazers other starter (Swing does not start), and averages 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He is yet another weapon that could easily be a problem for the Mocs on the defensive side of the ball.
If Z Mason does not play, it is hard to find a position where the Mocs can really compete with the Blazers. This UAB team is very good- tremendous. Probably they are the second best team the Mocs have played outside of UCLA. The Mocs will need to find some offensive weapons in this one to try to keep up because it is hard to believe the Mocs are going to beat them with their defense in this one. If the Mocs can protect the ball (like I say every game), they can probably score some points. It is tough to imagine the Mocs keeping the Blazers off the boards, but if they do that and protect the ball and force a few turnovers, they will be in the game until the end. It won't happen this day. UAB 93, Mocs 70.