Great results, can be achieved with small forces. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I’ll do my best in this preview to not dip back into the past too much. There’s been enough salt on those wounds. In the last 10 years this historically competitive rivalry evolved into a massive mental hurdle for UAB the size of Joey Dorsey.
Prior to the win over Memphis in March of 2006, the UAB and Memphis series was slightly less one-sided from with the Tigers owning a 21-10 advantage over the Blazers dating back to it’s beginning in 1984. Since that win in Bartow Arena in 2006, the Blazers have lost 15 straight to Memphis with the last game being played in March of 2013.
In the 20 occasions the teams met since the 2002-03 season, Memphis has been ranked in the AP top 25 11 times. Of those 11, Memphis was ranked in the top 5 six times. UAB’s loss at Memphis on March 3 of 2006 was the only occasion both teams were ranked as UAB was #24 and Memphis was #5.
That was then, and this is now. Memphis has not been ranked in the AP since 2014.
Scouting The Tigers
The image above is a bit misleading in that it might give the appearance that sophomore forward Dedric Lawson isn’t one of the top 5 most significant contributors. In actuality it’s depicting that he is playing the 5-spot almost as much as their starting true center, as well as the 4-spot, which is his more natural position.
Dedric Lawson can be grouped in with Auburn’s Danjel Purifoy and Kansas’ Josh Jackson as one of the most versatile and pro-ready forwards in college basketball.
He’s a nightmare in the paint. Lawson is averaging 20.3 ppg and 10.9 rpg and many believe he’ll lead the nation in double-doubles by the season’s end. Against Iowa at the Emerald Coast Classic he had 35 points and 11 rebounds with no made 3-pointers. He was 15-of-20 from the field with every basket coming within seven feet.
Though Lawson likes to do his damage in the paint, he has shown this season and last that he is a capable 3-point shooter. He’s 8-of-27 this season and was 28-of-80 last year.
4 Things To Watch For
- KJ Lawson – Yes, there’s another Lawson on the team and he’s a stud too. KJ is second in points behind his brother and at 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds he favors the interior much like Dedric. KJ is capable but selective from behind the arc hitting 7-of-18 on the season. The two play with an uncanny awareness of the other much like the Taylor twins did for UAB years back.
- Chris Cokley – I’m intrigued to see how effective Cokley will be against Dedric and 6-foot-11 Baylor transfer Chad Rykhoek. Cokley would have gone for 20-plus if it wasn’t for foul trouble against Auburn, but I’m concerned Memphis will do what Kansas did and take him out of the game with their bigs and make UAB beat them with jump shots.
- Tigers’ 3-point shooting – Memphis has hit more than 8 3-pointers just twice in their eight games this season. This is welcomed news for Blazer fans who’ve seen opponents hit more than 10 against UAB five times this season.
- Dirk Williams – UAB’s success this season will ultimately rely on the senior’s ability to be effective and consistent from the perimeter. Dirk was much more deliberate in his effort to get involved offensively at SFA. Maybe coming off the bench was a good idea?