Rutgers (1-0) at UAB (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 11, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bartow Arena (8,508) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: CSS. Home Record: Rutgers 1-0, UAB 1-0. Away Record: Rutgers 0-0, UAB 0-0. Neutral Record: Rutgers 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: Rutgers 0-0, UAB 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of squads coming off season-opening victories get together on Monday night, as the UAB Blazers play host to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers' season got off to a positive start on its home floor last Friday night against Florida A&M, and while the final score (92-84) doesn't seem all that impressive against a team that won only eight games a season ago, in actuality it held a comfortable 16-point lead with just 1:32 remaining before a late run by the Rattlers made the contest seem closer than it was. The Scarlet Knights, a member of the newly-formed American Athletic Conference, are under the tutelage of first-year head coach Eddie Jordan, who replaced the fired Mike Rice last spring.
UAB tipped off its season with a mismatch against Division II Columbus State, and it did what was expected by cruising to an easy 76-56 triumph. The Blazers, who made the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2011, started fresh last season with new head coach Jerod Haase, who went 16-17 overall and 7-9 in Conference USA in his inaugural campaign.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.
The Scarlet Knights lost their best player in the offseason when Eli Carter (14.9 ppg) transferred to Florida, but for one night at least, his presence was not missed, as the team shot 48.4 percent from the field in the opener. Kadeem Jack took over the role of go-to option and he responded with a career- high 30 points on 12-of-18 efficiency from the floor to go with 12 rebounds. J.J. Moore also tallied a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards. Myles Mack, the team's top returning scorer (13.6 ppg), poured in 19 points, and while he was plagued by six turnovers, he made up for it at the defensive end with six steals. D'Von Campbell made an impression coming off the bench by netting 10 points. Rutgers scored 21 fast-break points and it will surely make a habit of running the floor this season.
UAB had a modest showing from the field in its opener (.443), and while it couldn't find much of a rhythm from 3-point range (8-of-26), its effort was still strong enough to record the convincing victory. One player who showed no shooting rust was Jordan Swing, who made all four of his 3-point attempts on his way to 12 points. Rod Rucker and Chad Frazier also scored 12 points, while CJ Washington led the way with 17 points. Last season, both Swing and Rucker averaged better than 14 ppg, and the two seniors are expected to carry the load once again. Frazier, a junior college transfer, finished with 10 assists and will try to feed his talented scorers all season long. Tosin Mehinti earned 20 minutes off the bench in the blowout of FAMU, and picked up plenty of hustle stats with 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Although both teams have a notch in the win column, it's tough to judge performances against clearly inferior competition, so it will be interesting to see how each squad responds to playing a formidable opponent. With UAB holding the home court and appearing improved with a roster largely in tact from a season ago, expect the Blazers to come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 74, Rutgers 67
11/11 10:38:03 ET