Before previewing UAB’s game against UTSA, let’s discuss what happened last night in El Paso, TX. It was a bizarre evening in the Don Haskins Center where the heat was not working and only two referees officiated the game. Normally there are three officials but the third couldn’t make it because of travel delays. Regardless, UAB was able to get the victory over the UTEP Miners 79-66. Ironically, UAB also scored 79 points in its first matchup against the Miners. Jordan “Jelly” Walker led the way for the Blazers with 22 points and went 4/7 from beyond the arc. UAB improved its record to 19-8 overall and 10-6 in Conference USA play. The Blazers still hold on to their third place spot in the conference standings and have now won six out of their last seven games.
The Blazers shot the ball well going 27/51 from the field for 52.9% and also shot well behind the three-point line going 9/17 for the same percentage 52.9%. In the first half, the Blazers were on fire going 13/21 overall for 61.9% and 5/8 from three for 62.5%. UAB really needed a good night shooting the ball because the Blazers played really sloppy at times turning the ball over 21 times at UTEP. Rebounding also seemed to be a big problem in the first half but the Blazers got it together after halftime. In the first half, UAB was outrebounded by UTEP 20-13 and 14-2 on offensive rebounds but the Blazers pulled it together in the second half outrebounding the Miners 24-10.
Andy Kennedy talked about overcoming those 21 turnovers on his postgame talk on the radio with David Crane: “We end up with 21 turnovers man it is mind numbing…10 out of our starting backcourt, 21 turnovers. but in order to overcome that you gotta shoot 53 percent from the floor (check), you gotta shoot 84 percent from the free throw line (check), you got to make 53 percent of your three pointers (check). And as you said, we were down 7 at the half and we end up plus 7 so we’re plus 14 in the second half off the glass that’s how you overcome 21 turnovers. I thought for about 10 minutes there a little bit in the first half and then really for about an 8 minute stretch in the second half we were pretty dominant.”
The Blazers will stay in the large state of Texas and travel over to San Antonio to turn its focus on the UTSA Roadrunners this Saturday afternoon. UAB owns the series overall record 11-5 and have won the previous 3 matchups over UTSA. The Blazers are also 6-4 when playing the Roadrunners in San Antonio. UTSA comes into this Saturday’s matchup in the Convo Center with a record of 8-19 overall and 2-14 in CUSA. UTSA just recently beat the Rice Owls 84-79 in Houston,TX but before that game they were on an 11 game losing streak. There’s no way to really say it nicely so let’s go ahead and say it…the Roadrunners are the worst team in Conference USA with only a few games left in the season. UTSA’s other win in CUSA came against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 75-72 back on January 5th. Now with that said, anyone can beat anyone in college basketball so it will be very important for the Blazers not to take the Roadrunners lightly.
These two teams squared off earlier in the season resulting in a dominating 90-67 win for UAB over UTSA. Jordan Walker led the way in scoring for the Blazers in the game grabbing 31 points and going 7/12 from the three-point line. Eric Gaines and KJ Buffen also had a solid outing getting 18 and 14 points respectively. For the Roadrunners, 6 foot Senior guard Japhet Medor led the way in scoring with 21 points. Medor will definitely be one of the two players Blazer fans will need to keep an eye on this Saturday. Medor averages right around 13 points per game. The main guy that UAB fans need to keep an eye on is 6’ 11” Senior forward Jacob Germany. The Blazers did a great job defending Germany in the first matchup limiting him to just 9 points and going 4/12 from the field. Germany averages right around 12 points per game but got 23 points in their conference win against Middle Tennessee and a season-high 27 points in their loss to Dartmouth. In the 2021-22 season, Germany averaged 15 points per game. Let’s get to those keys to getting a blazer victory:
- Don’t take the Roadrunners lightly
If UAB gets off the bus ready to play they should not have any problems with this Roadrunner team. It’s important for the Blazers to not take this team lightly and put them away early and keep pouring it on. The only way that UAB loses this game is if they come out sluggish and allow UTSA to hang around. As mentioned earlier in the article, winning on the road in conference is never easy but this one SHOULD be as easy as it gets.
- Keep UTSA off the free throw line
One of the few things that this UTSA team does well is make free throws. The Roadrunners are currently second in Conference USA (behind Charlotte) for team free-throw percentage at 74%. The Blazers have to make sure that they keep up the defensive intensity on the Roadrunners this game but do so without fouling. UTSA does not shoot the ball particularly well so they will definitely try to get to the free throw line a lot Saturday.
- Contain Jacob Germany
Even though Jacob Germany isn’t having as good of a season this year for UTSA compared to last season he’s still a pivotal part of the Roadrunner offense. Trey Jemison and Javian Davis did a great job defending him in the first matchup earlier this season so they will need to make sure to bring that same defense this Saturday.
Prediction: UAB 83 UTSA 71