Middle Tennessee (22-8) at UAB (18-11)
GAME NOTES: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will be seeking a share of the Conference USA title as they conclude their regular season at Bartow Arena against the UAB Blazers.
The Blue Raiders' 12-3 conference record has them tied with Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa for first place in the C-USA standings. Middle Tennessee kept its hopes of finishing on top alive on Saturday with a 65-41 rout of Rice, which marked its 10th win in 11 games. Against the Owls, the Raiders were led by a trio of seniors with double-figures as Shawn Jones spearheaded the charge with 15 points. Kerry Hammonds II tallied 14 points, while Neiko Hunter contributed 12 points to go along with a team-best seven rebounds. The collective effort was nothing out of the ordinary for coach Kermit Davis's squad as four or more Blue Raiders have scored in double figures on 13 occasions this season.
UAB had a three-game winning streak snapped on Sunday when it suffered a 67-58 setback to LaTech. The Blazers are in sole possession of eighth place in the 16-team C-USA with a 7-8 record and could move up a spot with a win and an Old Dominion loss. Coach Jarod Haase's team is ranked second nationally with 45.3 rpg. UAB has recorded 50 boards or more nine times and is 7-2 in those games. In its loss to the Bulldogs, UAB dominated on the interior as it held a 47-35 edge in the rebounding battle and outscored LA Tech, 38-18, in the paint.
This will be the second meeting this season and eighth in history between MTSU and UAB. The Blue Raiders managed to hold off UAB for an 89-84 overtime victory when the Blazers visited Murfreesboro on Jan. 11.
Jones is the only Blue Raider to have started in all 30 games this season and paces the team with 14.5 ppg and 8.1 rpg. Hunter is the team's second option on the offensive end with 13.1 ppg and Hammonds is close behind at 12.5 ppg. Tweety Knight also plays a vital role, filling up the stat sheet on a consistent basis with 6.9 ppg, 4.7 apg and 2.1 spg. On the campaign, Middle Tennessee is converting 45.4 percent of its field goal attempts for 71.8 ppg and limits its opposition to an average of 63 ppg on just 41.2 percent efficiency from the floor.
UAB, which averages 73.9 ppg, was limited to only 58 points in its last outing. The Blazers made 21-of-50 shots from inside the 3-point line, but went just 1-of-13 from beyond the arc and missed nine of their 22 free-throw attempts. Three players scored in double figures for UAB, as senior center Fahro Alihodzic notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while senior forward Rod Rucker also registered a double-double at 12 points and 12 boards. Junior guard Chad Frazier contributed 10 points and three steals in the loss. Frazier has become a superstar in his first season at the Division I level as he ranks third in the league in scoring at 17.7 ppg to go along with 4.4 apg. C.J. Washington is chipping in 13 ppg and seven rpg. Rucker has been consistent en route to average of 10.8 ppg and is leading on UAB on the glass with seven rpg.
UAB's seniors have a tough assignment for their final game at Bartow Arena. Middle Tennessee is one of the C-USA's best all-around teams and has plenty to play for due to the tight-race for first place. The Blazers have stepped up their performance as of late, but they will need to deliver a sensational showing to overcome the Blue Raiders.
GAME NOTES: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will be seeking a share of the
Conference USA title as they conclude their regular season at Bartow Arena
against the UAB Blazers.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bartow Arena (8,508) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television:
None. Home Record: MTSU 14-2, UAB 12-4. Away Record: MTSU 7-5, UAB 5-5.
Neutral Record: MTSU 1-1, UAB 1-2. Conference Record: MTSU 12-3, UAB 7-8.
Series Record: UAB leads, 5-2.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 8 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Middle Tennessee 67, UAB 62