UAB (4-4) at Middle Tennessee (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 5, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Murphy Center (11,807) -- Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UAB 3-0, MT 2-0. Away Record: UAB 1-2, MT 3-1. Neutral Record: UAB 0-2, MT 0-1. Conference Record: UAB 0-0, MT 1-0. Series Record: UAB leads, 5-0.
GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers end their three-game road swing with a non- conference duel with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at the Murphy Center.
UAB dropped to 4-4 overall on Saturday as it suffered a 102-84 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. The setback was the third in four games for Jerod Haase's squad. In his first year with the team, Haase has instilled his up-tempo system into the program which has yielded an average of 77.5 ppg. UAB generated just 60.5 ppg last season. However, the Blazers held their opposition to 61.5 ppg in 2011-12, but this season they are giving up 72.4 ppg.
The Blue Raiders are coming off a heartbreaking 82-77 overtime loss at Akron, which dropped their overall record to 5-2. Middle Tennessee's only other prior loss came to Florida on Nov. 18 and it has picked up road wins at UCF and Sun Belt Conference rival Louisiana already. Coach Kermit Davis has yet to see his team lose at home this season and it appears he has the team ready for another push towards the Big Dance after coming up just short in 2011-2012. The Blue Raiders are scoring 71.9 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting, while allowing 61.0 ppg.
UAB was a member of the Sun Belt from the 1979-80 season through the 1990-91 season before the Blazers joined the Great Midwest. The Blazers have won all five previous meeting between these teams on the hardwood, including a 76-71 decision in 2010 the last time they squared off in Murfreesboro.
The Blazers had a decent second half versus UNC on Saturday, as they converted 47.7 percent of their field goals, including 7-of-15 from downtown after the break. However, the Tar Heels drained 23-of-32 field goal attempts (71.9 percent) including 7-of-11 from deep and also added 14 points at the free throw line. UAB's run-and-gun style is clearly not tailored for games when its the underdog, but its core players were all fearless. Jordan Swing tallied 21 points, Terence Jones added 17 points, and Robert Williams netted 14 points. Rod Rucker chimed in with 13 points, six assists, and five boards. Swing leads five Blazers who own double-digit scoring averages with 15 ppg. Rucker is pacing the team on the glass with 8.1 rpg.
Middle Tennessee hurt itself its last time out as Akron scored 26 points off of 21 MT turnovers. The Blue Raiders nearly lost in regulation on multiple occasions as Raymond Cintron needed to make three foul shots with under a minute remaining to tie the score at 70. Then, Akron's Alex Abreu just missed a shot at the buzzer. Cintron drilled four 3-pointers from off the bench en route to a career-high 22 points, while Marcos Knight put up 21 points. Knight leads the team with 13.6 ppg and Shawn Jones is the only other MT player averaging in double-figures with 10.1 ppg. The Blue Raiders are very deep as 10 different players are registering more than 12 minutes per game.
The Blue Raiders' depth will be a key versus the run-and-gun Blazers. Middle Tennessee can rotate fresh bodies on and off the floor which will really test the endurance of UAB. Swing is a difference-maker and may be good enough to lead the Blazers to the road win, but the Blazers will need to find a way to limit Knight to do so.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 82, UAB 77
12/05 10:31:47 ET