Jack Ryan (@JackRyanUAB)
I am uncertain about this game. Justin Johnson absolutely destroyed UAB in the conference tournament last year. I have not seen much of WKU this year, but Pancake and Que both seem to be fitting into WKU’s system very well. UAB’s guards, especially Hak, are going to need to have quick hands and try to force some turnovers. With WKU having a 7-footer inside, rebounds are going to be very important too. UAB does an excellent job getting to the foul line and is ninth in the NCAA in free throw percentage. UAB is going to have to keep WKU from hitting eight threes or so in the game.
Score prediction: UAB 76 WKU 72
Connor Gentry (@)
Both UAB and Western Kentucky seem to be struggling to find their identity as teams so far this season. Up until this past road trip to North Texas and Rice, UAB had yet to win, or lose, two consecutive games, but broke that pattern with an ugly win against the Mean Green and an impressive road win over a tough Rice squad. Western Kentucky won their first three games in Conference USA play, but dropped their last one to yet another defensive juggernaut in Old Dominion.
This game is going to be an ugly one in my opinion as UAB will be looking to avenge their premature leave taking from the Conference Tournament last March, while WKU will be looking to continue a good start to conference play. It is a home game for the good guys and they are definitely looking for revenge, so I predict the boys in green and gold on top.
Score Prediction: UAB 75 WKU 70
Russell Brasseale (@)
We all know how last season ended with the Hilltoppers ousting the Blazers in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament and sending UAB to the NIT. I fully expect the Blazers to come out firing and play with lots of energy to start this game. That has kind of been the story most of the season where slow starts have plagued UAB. Western Kentucky is a much different team than the one who defeated UAB in Birmingham last march, but are playing well of late and have won five of its last six games.
The Tops are lead by Que Johnson who leads them in scoring and Justin Johnson who was a force against UAB last march. The Blazers are back home at Bartow Arena after starting off conference play with a loss to Middle Tennessee, but then winning two straight road games at North Texas and Rice. This is an important two-game stretch for the Blazers to prove once again that Conference USA goes through Birmingham. With that being said, this has become a rivalry game and we know crazy things happen in these type games. Look for William Lee to continue his hot play of late, and with the insertion of Denzel Watts into the starting lineup, that will only help Deion Lavender produce at his natural guard position. The Hilltoppers keep it close, but UAB gets its revenge from last march.
Score Prediction: UAB 73 WKU 69
Jake Mastroianni (@)
This is the ultimate revenge game for the UAB Blazers. The loss to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA tournament still plagues this team. Including that loss, the Blazers have gone 9-9 since that terrible game. You can tell that it’s had an effect on the psyche of the players – they just aren’t as confident as they were before that loss. For whatever reason, some teams just have another team’s number, and that seems to be the case with WKU against UAB. Even though the Blazers have won two in a row, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate and take the Hilltopppers in this one. I’ve yet to see anything from this UAB team to show me they’re ready mentally to handle this game. However, if UAB does come away with the win Thursday night, I think the Blazers go on a roll.
Score Prediction: UAB 71 WKU 75