Connor Gentry (@zcgentry

After a tough tough loss to a not very good FIU team, the Blazers look to rebound against a good La Tech team.

With Hakeem hurt and the uncertainty of his return Thursday, this could be a tough game. Erik Mcree is a fantastic player and can pose serious problems for the Blazers. The guards will have to step up in Hakeem’s absence and play stellar defense, and be able to score effectively. If they are able to do that, then the Blazers can win.

The good news is UAB has yet to lose back-to-back games this season and have responded very well to loses. The biggest thing will be keeping La Tech’s players in front of the defense and prevent them from using their speed. I hate to pick against the good guys, but without Hakeem I’m not 100 percent confident we pull it off.

Score Prediction: UAB 75 La Tech 78

Russell Brasseale (@Russbuss11)

UAB is back at home for two games starting Thursday night when they host Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are currently sitting in second place of the Conference USA standings, while the Blazers are tied for third. UAB surprisingly lost to Florida International last Saturday night after winning five of its first six conference games. Hakeem Baxter suffered an ankle injury in the loss and he has been listed as day-to-day. If he is unable to play, the Blazers will have their hands full guarding the Bulldogs’ guards without its best defender. Louisiana Tech is led by Erik McCree who leads the team in scoring at 17.2 points per game. The Bulldogs only loss in conference came shockingly to UT San Antonio, 69-68.  The biggest difference for me in this one, I think, will be the crowd. Yes, I know it is a late tip at 8, but I think with UAB students being back on campus they will show up. All students are encouraged to attend the tailgate on the Bartow Arena lawn before the game. There will be free food, free t-shirts, and music, which starts at 5:30 p.m. The Bulldogs are a very good team, just ask the UAB team from last year, but I feel like UAB gets back to its winning ways and puts the surprising loss to Florida International behind them. Blazers win a close one.

Score Prediction: UAB 74 La Tech 72

Jack Ryan (@jackryanuab)

UAB is coming off of a weird road trip to Florida. To say the least, it was not the greatest performance of the year, especially defensively. The loss of Hak proved that he is the best defender on the team as no one on UAB could stop FIU. Hak’s contributions to the team sometimes do not show up in the box score as he is often matched with the opposing team’s best player. With Hak day-to-day, it is going to be incredibly important for the remaining guards to step up defensively and play like Hak. I’m honestly nervous about this game against La Tech. Even though UAB has won 20 straight home conference games, this one against the Bulldogs will be a dog fight. As I just said, UAB’s defense has to step up tremendously from the FIU performance. If UAB can keep the Bulldogs in the low 40’s shooting percent wise, they might have a shot. However, I think the Bulldogs secure second place in Bartow Thursday night. 

Score Prediction: UAB 74 La Tech 82

Jake Mastroianni (@ShortStopBall)

Injuries are such a bummer in sports, but they are not excuses. Losing to FIU was embarrassing, even if Hakeem was injured. A team as talented as UAB, and as deep as the Blazers are, should be able to sustain an injury or two and beat teams like FIU. Losing Nick Norton at the beginning of the year was obviously devastating, but as a coach you have to be able to regroup the team and make sure they stay focused. Just when it looked like the Blazers were focused, they lose Baxter and it’s back to sulking. I’ve been playing Devil’s Advocate in these predictions all year, and I’ll continue to do so until this team proves to me that they can stay focused and play consistent basketball in every game. Even with a healthy Hakeen Baxter the game against La Tech would be a challenge, but I don’t see how they regroup and win this one — even at home. Here’s to hoping they prove me wrong again and start a new streak.

Score Prediction: UAB 68 La Tech 81