Here are The Daily Dragon’s staff predictions for the upcoming home game against Memphis.
The UAB-Memphis rivalry returns to Bartow Arena Thursday night for the first time since 2013. The Tigers and Blazers renewed their old Conference USA rivalry last year at the FedEx Forum, where Memphis won, yet again, over UAB. The Green and Gold squandered a halftime lead a year ago and will be looking to end a 16-game skid over the Tigers this time around. Thursday night is also the Bartow Classic as UAB Athletics will honor the legendary coach who started it all here at UAB. The unique thing about Coach Bartow and this rivalry is that he had ties with both programs, which makes this night so special. Memphis comes into the game 3-1 with the lone loss coming to the Crimson Tide of Alabama, who apparently is a basketball school now. The Tigers lost the Lawson brothers from a year ago due to transfer, and do not have as much depth as the Blazers. Jamal Johnson, the Spain Park native, will return to Birmingham where he is averaging close to 7 points a game for the Tigers. Richmond sold out in the paint in the Cayman Islands and made UAB’s guards beat them. This is what Memphis may try to do as well, so being able to hit some early jumpers will prove vital for the Blazers. These two teams are pretty evenly matched, and in a rivalry anything can happen — even though lately it hasn’t been much of a rivalry. Chris Cokley has been playing out of his mind for UAB and this will need to continue if the Blazers are going to be successful this year. Zack Bryant gets his first taste of the rivalry, and expect him to ball. Lewis Sullivan and Nate Darling will be a huge factor in this game, expect big things from them. On a night where UAB will honor the “Father of UAB Athletics” they finally end the 16-game streak against Memphis and get the win.
Prediction: UAB 75 Memphis 72
I honestly don’t know much about Memphis other than the 10 minutes I watched them play against Alabama, and what I read in our preview. But what I think I know is UAB basketball. Or at least I thought I knew them until they played in the Cayman Islands. I don’t know who that team was that played against Richmond, but this team is far too talented for lapses like that. They’ve been a much different team at home this year — albeit against lesser competition — but I expect them to play their style of basketball in this one. I would be pretty shocked and slightly disappointed/upset if the Blazers don’t win this game. From what I think I know, we are far more talented and experienced than Memphis. It’s time for us to start playing like we’re capable, and beating these teams who shouldn’t be on our level.
Prediction: UAB 81 Memphis 73
This is the best opportunity for UAB to beat Memphis since 2011 when we were clearly the better team but dropped both very close games against the Tigers. We mentioned in our preview that the Blazers have the edge against Memphis in both the front and back courts, but as we know, this series typically neutralizes all advantages. I’m looking for UAB to take a big step forward defensively and really make Memphis a one dimensional team. If we can control the paint defensively and guard the ball close on the perimeter we will win and possibly by a nice margin. If we forget how to shoot and fail to close out on jump shots we’ll see another team score 80-plus on us. Defense should be our number one focus Thursday night as our offense has been pretty good aside from the first half of the Richmond game. Make Memphis a mid-range and contested perimeter shooting team and the game is ours.
Prediction: UAB 80 Memphis 68