Despite playing pretty well in Bowling Green, a one-sided affair from the free throw line dealt UAB its second loss in conference play.
UAB did everything a team should be expected to do to win a tough game on the road. They hit eight 3-pointers, had more made field goals, and they out-rebounded their opponent. Unfortunately the opportunity to improve to 5-1 was stripped away after an obscene free throw disadvantage that gave Western Kentucky 29 attempts at the line compared to UAB’s three.
After starting the second half scoring 26 points in the first 10 minutes, UAB only had 12 points in the final 10 minutes but still led by two with 4:10 to play. It was a brutal loss but nonetheless I’m proud of the way they fought against a good team when the calls weren’t going our way.
Now the focus is on Marshall who just handed Middle Tennessee their first conference loss of the season on Thursday night in Huntington. The Herd led nearly every second of the game and played their best defensive game of the season holding the Blue Raiders to just 63 points. Marshall hit 10 3-pointers and turned Middle Tennessee over 19 times. Let’s take a closer look at the Thundering Herd.
Scouting the Herd
The team we’ll see tomorrow night will have many familiar faces and the token fast and frantic offense Dan D’Antoni loves to run. The Herd are led by all-conference point guard Jon Elmore for the third straight season and he is once again putting up video game numbers. Elmore is averaging 22 points, five rebounds, and seven assists per game. His most lethal weapon is his ability to get to the rim where he’ll usually either score or get to the free throw line where he ranks 56th in the country in free throw rate.
As great as Elmore is, the name you’re going to want to remember is Ajdin Penava who is one of the most improved players in the country. The 6-foot-9 junior forward has seemingly come out of nowhere and become the far and away best shot blocker in Division 1. His 82 blocks and 4.8 a game average are both top in the country. He is averaging 16.7 points per game and can score from anywhere on the court. Strangely enough his KenPom.com player stat comp is last year’s William Lee.
Another Herd player that has taken a huge leap this season is 6-foot-3 junior guard C.J. Burks who is averaging 21 points per game after averaging just nine last season. He, Elmore, and Penava are a lethal three-headed offensive monster. Burks has hit at least four 3-pointers in the last four games and was five-of-eight Thursday night against Middle Tennessee.
Marshall is a team that you cannot allow to hit shots early. Their offense is like an avalanche that is ready to fall if you enable it. UAB had some very solid defensive stretches Thursday night and will likely come away with a win tomorrow if they can duplicate it.
3 Keys to Blazer Victory
- UAB is really tough to beat when William Lee is a factor like he was last night. He had 11 points, 14, rebounds, and three blocks. We’ll need another performance like that tomorrow.
- Turning the ball over against Marshall is a sure way to get blown out given they thrive on fast break opportunities. Our 11 turnovers last night wasn’t terrible but we’ll need a lower number than that tomorrow.
- UAB’s super efficient offense must return and run like a sewing machine against Marshall. Scoring droughts like we suffered in the last 10 minutes against Western Kentucky won’t cut it against a team that will be cooking at home offensively.