UAB (6-2) at Northeastern (2-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Matthews Arena (6,000) -- Boston, Massachusetts. Television: None. Home Record: UAB 5-0, Northeastern 1-1. Away Record: UAB 0-0, Northeastern 0-2. Neutral Record: UAB 1-2, Northeastern 1-3. Conference Record: UAB 0-0, Northeastern 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The slumping Northeastern Huskies get a chance to right the ship on Saturday as the UAB Blazers invade Matthews Arena for a non-conference tilt.
The only team outside of North Carolina that would be pleased by the Tar Heels upset of No. 1 Michigan State this week might be the Blazers. UAB's most recent outing ended in a 63-59 victory over that same North Carolina squad. That triumph was the third in the last four games for the Blazers, who are 6-2.
A 72-64 setback at home to Harvard on Wednesday sent the Huskies to their fourth consecutive loss. The losing streak has dropped Northeastern to just 2-6 overall. Playing at home has been a mixed bag for the Huskies, who have split their two decisions as the host team.
Saturday is the first-ever matchup between these teams.
UAB led the Tar Heels by as many as 15 points on Sunday but had that advantage slashed to just two in the final minutes. However the Blazers were able to hold on for the victory thanks to a 7-of-9 showing from the free-throw line down the stretch. In the win, the Blazers owned a 52-37 edge on the boards.
Controlling the glass has been the cornerstone of the Blazers' strong start. In fact no team in the country is collecting more rebounds per game (49) than the Blazers. The solid work on the boards has allowed the Blazers to net 78.9 points per game despite 42.2 percent shooting. Rod Rucker (12.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg) is a constant double-double threat and one of four players bringing in at least six rebounds per game. Chad Frazier (19.2 ppg, 5 apg) is the leading scorer and a strong passer, while CJ Washington (15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Robert Williams (10 ppg, 6.1 rpg) also make an impact.
Scott Eatherton (17 points, 11 rebounds) finished with a double-double and Reggie Spencer and David Walker each got into double figures as well for Northeastern against Harvard. In the end, it didn't matter as the Huskies were simply outshot, netting 46.2 percent from the floor to the 56.5 percent effort from the Crimson.
Including the setback to Harvard, five of the Huskies' losses this season have come by single digits. Northeastern just can't seem to get over the hump as they score 68.5 points per game and shoot 46.2 percent from the floor, but yields 71.1 points per game. Eatherton (16.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg) and Spencer (11 ppg, 6.9 rpg) will be tasked with contending with the powerful frontcourt for the Blazers. Eatherton has already posted six double-doubles on the season and scored at least 20 points three times. Spencer's production has been more limited with just a single double-double on his resume. Walker (12.2 ppg, 3 apg) is the primary option in the backcourt.
Eatherton is a more than capable forward, but he will have a hard time dealing with the dominance of UAB's frontcourt. Unless Walker and the other Northeastern really heat up from the outside, its unlikely the Huskies will be able to topple the Blazers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 70, Northeastern 64
12/07 10:38:43 ET