DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 8th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bartow Arena (8,500) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Southern Miss 11-0, UAB 5-7. Away Record: Southern Miss 7-2, UAB 4-6. Neutral Record: Southern Miss 2-1, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: Southern Miss 7-1, UAB 4-5. Series Record: UAB leads, 23-14.
GAME NOTES: The Golden Eagles of Southern Miss look to continue their season- long romp through Conference USA, when they travel to take on the UAB Blazers at Bartow Arena this evening.
Southern Miss was last in action a week ago when it edged Memphis at home, 75-72, to avenge the team's lone conference loss of the year and snap an 18- game losing streak to the Tigers. The Golden Eagles had earlier suffered a narrow 60-58 setback at Memphis January 11, but nailed eight consecutive free throws in the final 2:30 this time around to secure the program's first victory in the series since 2004. Darnell Dodson led the way with 23 points and six rebounds off the bench while Neil Watson contributed 17 points and six assists off the pine. LaShay Page recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-best 10 boards as Southern Miss remained atop the league standings at 7-1 with its fifth straight win.
UAB put together back-to-back wins for the first time in C-USA play this season with its 61-60 triumph at UTEP Saturday. Preston Purifoy came up with the go-ahead jumper with 51 seconds to play and the Blazers survived a series of missed opportunities by the Miners to escape with the victory. The Blazers received a huge lift with the return of Jordan Swing, who paced the visitors with 19 points in 31 minutes off the bench. UAB outscored UTEP 26-2 in bench points thanks in large part to the sophomore, who had missed the previous three games with a hand injury. Purifoy ended with 12 points while Cameron Moore contributed a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds while adding six blocks.
UAB owns a 23-14 edge in the all-time series and has won six of the last nine meetings. However, Southern Miss logged a 59-55 victory on its home court earlier this season and beat the Blazers at Bartow Arena last season, 75-71. The two teams split the season series a year ago with the Golden Eagles' road win just their second in nine previous trips to Birmingham. UAB is 13-4 at home overall in the series.
The Golden Eagles take care of business at both ends of the floor leading to a league-leading +10.0 scoring margin. Southern Miss' offense averages 72.3 points per game and holds opponents to 62.3 ppg. However, curiously the shooting percentages are dead even as the Golden Eagles hit at a 42.1-percent clip from the floor -- same as opponents. Also puzzling is the fact that the Eagles' shooting percentage is last in the conference. One area that helps Southern Miss' cause is C-USA's top free-throw shooting mark at 75.4 percent. The balanced offense features four players currently averaging double-figure scoring led by Dodson's 13.3 ppg. The options go on from there with Page (12.8 ppg), Watson (11.5 ppg) Maurice Bolden (10.6 ppg) and Angelo Johnson (9.7 ppg). Bolden adds a team-high 5.8 rebounds to the mix while Watson dishes 4.5 assists per game to rank among the league leaders. Page is also among C-USA's best in three-pointers with 62 on 37.3 percent shooting.
The Blazers' offense is driven in large part by Moore, whose 15.9-point average is top-5 in C-USA and 10.7 rebounds per contest ranks second in league play. The return of Swing is huge for the Blazers, as his 11.5-point average serves as the only other double-digit total on the roster. The Blazers need a boost with the conference's worst scoring offense at 59.7 ppg. UAB shoots only 42.2 percent from the field, a tick above the last-place standing of Wednesday's opponent. The Blazers are also the only team in C-USA with a negative scoring margin (minus-1.5) despite the defense permitting a stingy 61.2 ppg and 41.2 shooting percentage. Ovie Soko helps play an important role in the offense, averaging 8.8 ppg and 7.5 boards per contest, while Purifoy adds 7.9 ppg. UAB's overall rebounding effort is usually good enough at a +2.5 margin (34.8-32.4).
UAB will have its hands full with the Golden Eagles for sure and doesn't exactly play that well in front of its own home crowd (5-7). The Blazers seem to be on the right track but figure to have that momentum halted Wednesday when C-USA's top team comes to town.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 67, UAB 61
02/08 10:31:12 ET
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