Dec. 4, 2012
UAB Defense Stands Ground In 66-56 Win Over MTSU
Four players reached double figures and UAB's defense kept the Middle Tennessee offense in check as the Blazers earned a 66-56 victory on Wednesday at Bartow Arena.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The UAB men's basketball team will close out a five-game road swing with a trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to play the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. The contest will air on ESPN3.com.
The Blazers are coming off a 102-84 loss at No. 14 North Carolina, while MTSU dropped its most recent contest at Akron in overtime, 82-77.
UAB (4-4) at Middle Tennessee (5-2)
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Venue: Murphy Center (11,520)
Talent: Chip Walters (pxp), Kyle Turnham (analyst)
Radio: 107.7 WUHT-FM
Talent: David Crane (pxp), Bobby Frasor (analyst)
Inside The Series
UAB leads, 5-0
Last Meeting: UAB 66, MTSU 55 at Bartow Arena (12/7/11)
UAB utilized a balanced scoring attack, with four players scoring in double figures to earn the victory. Jordan Swing led the Blazers with 15 points while Preston Purifoy chipped in with 12. MTSU, which entered the contest as the top shooting team in the nation, was held to 41.2 percent shooting, including just 27.3 percent (6-for-22) in the first half.
Series Notes: The Blazers and Blue Raiders will meet for the third consecutive season and sixth time overall. Wednesday will mark the second time both squads will battle at the Murphy Center. The last time UAB and MTSU played in Murfreesboro, Tenn., the Blazers earned a 76-71 victory (11/17/10).
UAB: Jerod Haase (Kansas, '97)
Record at UAB: 4-4 (first season)
Career Record: 4-4 (first season)
MTSU: Kermit Davis (Mississippi State, '82)
Record at MTSU: 185-135 (11th season)
Career Record: 322-210 (18th season)
On The Blazers
Last Time Out: No. 14 North Carolina 102, UAB 84 in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Smith Center)
UAB trailed UNC by six at half and stayed within striking distance before a late Tar Heels' surge put the game out of reach. Jordan Swing led the Blazers with 21 points, including a perfect 5-for-5 on 3-pointers. As a team, UAB drained a season-high 12 treys in the loss. UNC shot an impressive 71.9 percent in the second half, making 23 of 32 shots.
• UAB is scoring 77.5 points per game as a team, third in Conference USA, after eclipsing the 80-point mark for third time this season in Saturday's loss at North Carolina. The Blazers are now 4-1 when scoring 75-or-more points in a game.
• The UAB offense showcases a balanced attack, with all five starters averaging in double figures. Jordan Swing leads the squad, collecting 15.0 ppg, followed by Rod Rucker (13.9 ppg), Terence Jones (10.4 ppg), Fahro Alihodzic (10.3 ppg) and Robert Williams (10.1 ppg). UAB has used the same five starters in all eight games this season.
• The Blazers defense has done a solid job on the glass, collecting 40.8 boards per game, third in the league. However the defense is also allowing opponents to score 72.4 points on average.
• Two more areas that have been strengths for the Blazers have been distributing the basketball and collecting steals. UAB ranks first in assists in C-USA, dishing out an average of 17.4 per game as a team, which also ranks 21st nationally. The 139 total assists in eight games sits amongst the nation's best, tied for 11th with UCLA. In steals, UAB is averaging a league-best 9.0 swipes per contest. Leading the team and ranking fifth in the conference in that statistical category is Fahro Alihodzic (1.8).
• UAB has been connecting from downtown, making an average of 7.6 trifectas per contest, tops in the league. As a team, the Blazers are making 35.7 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, led by Swing. The Birmingham native is 19-for-36 (52.8 percent) on 3-pointers after going 5-for-5 at North Carolina.
On The Blue Raiders
Last Time Out: Akron 82, MTSU 77 (OT) at Akron, Ohio (Rhodes Arena)
MTSU's Raymond Cintron scored a game-high 22 points off the bench, making all four of the team's 3-pointers, but the Blue Raiders only connected one of five shots in overtime, falling on the road at Akron last Sunday. Marcos Knight added 21 points in a losing effort for the visiting Blue Raiders.
• MTSU is 5-2 on the season and 1-0 in the Sun Belt Conference, defeating Louisiana on the road in its first league game. The Blue Raiders are the first of two schools UAB will play from the Sun Belt Conference this week, as the Blazers will host South Alabama on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT inside Bartow Arena. UAB will also host ULM of the SBC on Dec. 20.
• MTSU has hung its hat on defense through the early portion of the 2012-13 season, holding the opposition to 61.0 points per game, the lowest in the Sun Belt Conference. MTSU also boasts the best scoring margin, +10.9, scoring an average of 71.9 per game along with shooting a conference-best 44.5 percent from the floor. The Blue Raiders had not allowed an opponent to score more than 66 points, until Sunday when Akron posted 82.
• The Blue Raiders have 10 players that play 12.7 minutes or more per game and average 4.0 or more points per contest. Leading the offense is Marcos Knight, who is collecting 13.6 ppg. Marcos' twin brother, Tweety Knight is averaging 5.5 ppg.
• MTSU has only one player that has started all seven games this season, Shawn Jones, who ranks second on the team with 10.1 ppg and leads the team with 45 total rebounds, 6.4 per game.
• Against MTSU, the opposition is only shooting 29.5 percent on 3-pointers, making only 38 on 129 attempts, for an average of 5.6 per game.
Being Big At The Line
Fahro "Foz" Alihodzic has been big at the foul line for UAB this season, making 22 of 24 free throws (91.7 percent). His free throw percentage ranks second in C-USA and tied for 29th in the nation. In fact, Alihodzic has the best free throw percentage amongst all Division I centers. The 6-foot-10 Bosnia native not only leads all centers, but is the only player over 6-foot-9 shooting better than 90 percent from the line in the country.
1. Fahro Alihodzic, UAB, C, 6-10 91.7 % (22-24)
2. Augustine Rubitt, South Alabama, C, 6-9 90.5 % (38-42)
3. Jarred Shaw, Utah State, C, 6-10 85.0 % (17-20)
Swing Slings It From Downtown
Jordan Swing has been a gunslinger from 3-point range, making 19 of 36 attempts, shooting 52.8 percent from downtown. Swing's percentage ranks third in the conference and is the best amongst league players that have made more than 10 treys. Against UNC, Swing went a perfect 5-for-5 on 3-pointers, and has made at least one shot from beyond the arc in seven of eight games this season. In addition, Swing's 21 points against the Tar Heels marked the 10th consecutive game he has scored in double figures, including all eight games in the 2012-13 season.
Williams Is Heating Up
Robert Williams has found his stride on offense over the past three games, averaging 14.3 ppg and shooting 57.1 (16-for-28) percent from the floor and 50 percent (7-for-14) from 3-point range. After scoring 17 points in the season opener vs. Young Harris (11/10), Williams did not reach double figures until scoring 11 vs. TCU (11/24). The Greenville, Miss., native followed that up with a career-high 18-point effort at Troy (11/27), including a personal-best four 3-pointers. He added 14 points in the loss at North Carolina (12/1).
Good From Downtown In Chapel Hill
UAB connected for a season-best 12 3-pointers against the 14th-ranked UNC Tar Heels on Dec. 1. It marked the most 3-point baskets made by the Blazers since falling to Clemson in the NCAA Tournament on March 15, 2011, when UAB made 12 of 24 shots. UAB was just three 3-pointers shy of tying the school record of 15 set against Southern Miss back on Feb. 21, 2009.
Cashing In At The Charity Stripe
On Nov. 27 at Troy, UAB was nearly perfect at the line. The Blazers went 14 for 15 at the charity stripe, for a 93.3 percent success rate. The percentage was not only the best in C-USA this season, but tied for the second best free throw mark in program history with more than 10 foul shots made.
1. 93.8 (15-16) vs. USF (12/27/06)
2. 93.3 (14-15) at Troy (11/27/12)
2. 93.3 (14-15) vs. Saint Louis (2/19/94)
The Century Mark
UAB reached the century mark in the season opener vs. Young Harris, marking the first time a Blazer team reached triple digits in regulation game since since Feb. 20, 2008 against Houston (W, 101-98). At North Carolina (12/1), the Tar Heels were the first UAB opponent to reach 100 points since Washington scored an even 100 in 2004. In that game, UAB defeated the Huskies, 102-100, on March 19, 2004, in the NCAA Tournament en route to the Blazers making their historic run to the Sweet 16.