CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Coming off two heart-breaking losses, Coach Mark Price’s 49ers welcome in one of the hottest teams in the country in UAB on Saturday. Charlotte (4-12, 1-3) dropped a one point back-and-forth battle to visiting Middle Tennessee State on Thursday just days after losing in overtime to Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. Per KenPom.com, Charlotte has the most difficult in-conference and out-of-conference schedule in CUSA.
Despite dropping three of their first four CUSA games, the 49ers have shown signs of improvement. For the third game in a row Charlotte has had five players score in double figures.
Six-foot-10 senior center and Pittsburgh transfer Joseph Uchebo has come on strong in conference play averaging 14.5 points per game. Uchebo pulled down 18 rebounds against MTSU last night and 20 against La Tech last Saturday. Junior guard Braxton Ogbueze is averaging 19.3 points per game over the last three, and he is second in CUSA with 45 made three-pointers.
The 49ers are averaging an impressive 10.5 made three-pointers per game in league play, which leads CUSA. Coach Price will likely be missing senior forward Bernard Sullivan for the seventh game in a row due to injury. Sullivan was averaging 10.5 points per game in the 10 games he played in this year.
For more background on Charlotte’s season up to this point, check out the Blazer Bloggin’ CUSA Men’s Basketball Preview and Predictions article.
Like Old Dominion, Charlotte is a very familiar foe to UAB. All three teams played together in the Sun Belt conference for 12 seasons from 1979-91. The Blazers have played the 49ers 43 times, which is the third most of any of their opponents. UAB leads the series 27-16.
The 49ers will be put the test Saturday night when CUSA’s pre-season favorite UAB comes to Halton Arena. The Blazer’s are on an 11 game win streak, which is second only to undefeated 16-0 Southern Methodist University. This is only the second time in school history UAB has won 11 in a row. The last time was during the 1993-94 season under Gene Bartow.
Expect a much different style of game between UAB and Charlotte than you saw at Old Dominion. Charlotte is the third youngest team in CUSA and allows 21 more points a game than the Monarchs. The 49ers get their shots off almost a full four seconds quicker than ODU as well. The Blazers have eight players averaging more than 15 minutes a game, with none playing more than 30.
Charlotte’s pace of play shouldn’t be an issue for UAB with their depth and experience. The 49ers’ frontcourt will be much bigger and physical than ODU’s. If Tosin Mehinti, Chris Cokley, and William Lee can stay out of foul trouble, the Blazers will return to Birmingham with two road victories.
UAB 80 Charlotte 68