“He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I’m going to do this preview a little differently given that we covered Marshall a couple weeks back and many were able to see them in Bartow in person. If you missed that extensive player-by-player preview, you can read it HERE.
Speaking of that game, UAB put together arguably their best performance of the season in the 94-78 shellacking of the Herd. It was a very complete game for the Blazers offensive and defensively speaking. UAB held Marshall to 31 first half points and the Blazers scored 60 in the second half.
As we’ve all seen, a lot has happened since that game a month ago. Both UAB and Marshall have gone 3-3 since their meeting on January 14, and both teams have experienced their share of highs and very lows. UAB went wire-to-wire in a win over La Tech, but got dismantled at home by a mediocre at best ODU team. Marshall beat their conference rival WKU twice, but experienced their own home let down in a 91-68 loss to UTEP. That brings us to Thursday where I believe UAB will be in a closely contested battle.
Scouting The Herd (Again)
Personnel-wise not much has changed for Marshall since the last meeting. I personally believe UAB ran away with the game in January because of four main reasons.
- The injury of 6-foot-9 rim protector Ajdin Penava 10 minutes into the game
- Terrance Thompson, another focal interior piece, had missed the majority of the season prior to the game
- Austin Loop, who has hit 87 3-pointers this season, was ice cold (1-of-7) despite getting many open looks
- William Lee went nuts
Over the last six games, and 30 or so days, Penava appears to be near 100 percent, Terrance Thompson has worked his way into the starting lineup and scored 25 against UTEP, and Austin Loop has hit 5 3-pointers in a game three times and 6 3-pointers twice. Combine those positive trends with the fact they’ll be at home where they’ve been very good this season and we should be in for a much better looking Marshall team. Also, folks in Huntington really don’t like UAB.
UAB can ill afford to have offensive droughts Thursday night. Marshall has scored more than 90 points four times at home against Conference USA opponents and they scored 110 against Charlotte. The Blazers won’t see near the defensive resistance that they faced against UTEP, UTSA, and ODU and it will have to result in efficient offense to steal this game on the road. I personally think UAB will need to score more than 80 to win Thursday night.
3 Things To Watch For
- William Lee – What we saw from Lee Saturday night is the formula for UAB to win going forward this season. UAB didn’t lose that game because he accounted for most the scoring. They lost because they couldn’t get stops, which would have led to better opportunities for others to get involved out of the half court.
- Jon Elmore – UAB bottled up the talented junior point guard in Birmingham. Baxter and co. will be tasked with doing it again, but this time in his house were he has been incredible for the Herd this season.
- Press Defense – Ehsan pressed more in the last Marshall game than any game this season and it was very effective. It’ll be interesting to see if UAB is able to get the same results on the road if they try to implement it again.