The Blazers are 6-0 at home this season and will look to improve on that record as they host the Privateers for the first time since 1992.
If you combine Alabama A&M, New Orleans, and Saturday’s opponent Mississippi Valley St’s records, they are a combined 0-29 against Division 1 competition this season. I’m not sure I’ve seen UAB play a stretch of games against worse opponents. On the bright side, it’s an opportunity to gain some confidence and dip deep into the bench, which could pay dividends down the road. I’m not here to make guarantees, but you could bet tomorrow is going to be another lop-sided victory.
Looking briefly back at last Saturday’s win over Alabama A&M, the biggest takeaway for me was the incredible 3-point shooting performance of 14-of-21, good for 61 percent. After the game Rob Ehsan said, “Fourteen made threes are probably the most threes we’ve made in the past three or four years.” Well, Rob Father, it’s the most threes UAB has hit in a game in since 2009 when they hit 15 against Southern Miss. I have to admit I never would have guessed that record would have come during the Davis era.
UAB doesn’t have to hit 14 3-pointers a night, but they must be consistent enough night-in-and-night-out that teams have to prepare for it. When the triples are dropping, Chris Cokley will eat single coverage defenders alive all night. Let’s hope our guards have finally warmed and will remain en fuego.
Scouting the Privateers
I have to admit, I’m not sure I’ve ever watched New Orleans play, and this is coming from a guy who watches an embarrassing amount of college basketball each week. The Privateers went 20-12 last season and made it to the NCAA tournament where they fell to Mount St. Mary’s in the play-in 16 seed game.
One thing about New Orleans I’m very aware of is they have one of the best players in the Southland Conference in 6-foot-8, 238 pound Travin Thibodeaux. He’s no Chris Cokley, but he’ll be one of the better big, athletic forwards our front court will see this season. He’s very versatile and as you’ll see below, quite explosive.
Thibodeaux has had the lions share of New Orleans’ points this season, and to a certain degree is a bit of a one man show. He averages just a shade under 16 points per game but doesn’t rebound particularly well for a big man. He has the ability to hit the three ball having converted 5-of-11 this season.
New Orleans has the ability to put out a pretty big line up with Thibodeaux and 6-foot-9 senior Makur Puou. I wouldn’t be too concerned as they aren’t near the front court Auburn had, which UAB handled pretty well.
Knock on wood, but the Privateers are not much of a 3-point shooting team. Just two players have hit more than 10 compared to UAB’s five. However, the two guards who have hit 14 and 15 respectively have done so at a very efficient rate as their both shooting better than 40 percent from behind the arc.
Like last game, UAB needs to just show up for the most part and play sound basketball. The Blazers offense this season has been prolific even in a couple close losses. It wouldn’t surprise me if they flirted with 100 points tomorrow night against a New Orleans team that is 0-7 on the road and giving up nearly 75 points per game.
Three Keys to Victory for UAB
- If they come any where close to having an offensive outpouring like Saturday’s, they’ll cruise to an easy victory. A heavy dose of inside-out ball with Cokley and our hot shooting guards should bury them easily.
- This isn’t really a key to victory, but it’s important that UAB continue to work on limiting their turnovers before they face Middle the weekend after next. These game are meant for fine tuning.
- I’m out of keys, so I’ll take this moment to say a silent prayer for whoever Zack Bryant is going to poster tomorrow night.