Despite their overall record, UAB will need to give the Roadrunners their full attention Saturday to remain in the conference title hunt.
I’m certain I’ve watched UTSA play more this season than anyone outside of San Antonio. I saw them take Oklahoma and Nebraska down to the wire in December, and most recently witnessed them win at La Tech for the second consecutive season. They are extremely well coached and have one of the best scoring freshman in the conference.
Last season’s loss at UTSA was one of the worst losses the core group of Blazers have incurred over past few seasons. On paper UAB should win this one with ease by double-digits, but I fully expect tomorrow’s game to be a battle from start to finish. I’m hoping the loss last season will yield some urgency and inspiration tomorrow.
Last night the Roadrunners lost by 24 at Middle Tennessee in a game that was very competitive in the first half. UAB has the ability to produce a similar result if they play like they did Thursday offensively. UTSA plays at a tempo similar to Marshall’s and can score a lot in a hurry if we have empty possessions. Fortunately, as we know, UAB is quite efficient offensively, so UTSA’s style of play should play to our favor.
Let’s take a look at the pieces for UTSA that have left them to a 10-11 record thus far.
Scouting the Roadrunners
I mentioned UTSA’s tempo earlier and that’s a good place to start when breaking down this team. They are going to run and take shots early in the shot clock. In close losses they scored 96 at Tulsa, 85 at Oklahoma, and 94 at Nebraska, but for them, unfortunately, their style of play is a double edged sword in that if they are having a cold shooting night or run into a solid defensive team they can really struggle offensively.
When you compare UAB and UTSA’s offensive balance they are practically polar opposites. UAB typically has four or more players score in double figures a night and UTSA relies heavily on their volume shooting freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson. Jackson has a 100 percent on all the time green light and will pull up from Steph Curry range if you give him an inch. He had 31 points at Oklahoma and will be UTSA’s primary offensive source tomorrow.
With all that being said, UTSA’s record is what it is because they don’t have a consistent productive offensive player outside of Jackson. Basically, if you can cut the head off the snake we’ll be good to go. For what it’s worth they do have another freshman who is averaging in double figures (12.5) in Keaton Wallace. He scored 20 in a win in San Antonio last week but hadn’t scored more than seven since December.
The formula for tomorrow will be to contain Jackson as they don’t have enough support firepower to keep up with UAB’s potent offense.
3 Keys to Blazer Victory
- I’d like to see us go to Lee and Cokley early as UTSA doesn’t have anyone who can guard either of them for 40 minutes. We’ll see some junk zones again similar to what UTEP implemented in the first 15 minutes so we’ll need to be smart with our entry passes to them.
- I’d imagine Scootie will be tasked with marking Jackson, which means he is going to have to watch his fouls. He’s coming along defensively and can really take UAB’s defense to another level when he is active and playing smart. If Scootie can contain him to a certain degree, we’ll win with ease.
- Turnovers will be the story of this game. UTSA turned Middle Tennessee over 13 times, while only giving up seven. If we have less than 10 turnovers we’ll blow them out.