East Carolina (11-6) at UAB (8-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bartow Arena (8,508) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: ECU 10-1. UAB 7-1. Away Record: ECU 1-5, UAB 1-7. Neutral Record: ECU 0-0, UAB 0-2. Conference Record: ECU 2-2, UAB 0-3. Series Record: UAB leads, 12-3.
GAMES NOTES: Mired in a season-long skein, the UAB Blazers will try to right the ship when they return to Bartow Arena to host the East Carolina Panthers in Conference USA action Wednesday night.
East Carolina had strung together back-to-back victories for just the first time since a five-game win streak to start the season before a 77-56 loss to Marshall on Saturday. After the setback the Pirates are now 11-6 overall, while owning a 2-2 split in its four conference tilts. Playing on the road has been the main cause of East Carolina's issues this season with the Pirates just 1-5 in away contests including losses in five straight. East Carolina hosts UTEP next.
A once promising season has take a turn for the worse for UAB which has dropped four straight games after a 74-59 loss to Southern Miss on Saturday. The Blazers have dropped to 8-10 during the losing streak, while taking losses in all three of their conference matchups. Getting back to Bartow Arena could help the Blazers cure some of those ills as they are 7-1 at home this season. UAB hits the road next to take on Houston.
Last year saw these teams split the season series with the road team actually coming out on top in each instance. UAB has generally had a leg up on the Pirates in the all-time series though, which the Blazers lead 12-3.
East Carolina was run over by Marshall on a night in which the Pirates shot just 32.8 percent from the field. The Pirates also had a game-high 18 turnovers, nine of which came off of steals by the Thundering Herd. The offensive woes negated any benefit the Pirates had from their 47-42 edge on the boards.
It was out of character for East Carolina to struggle on the offensive end against Marshall. The Pirates are the second-highest scoring team in the conference (77.5 ppg). That scoring average is also among the top 25 marks in the country as well. Ball movement has been the key for East Carolina which has handed out the sixth-most assists nationally (17.5 pg). Maurice Kemp (17.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.4 apg) is the second-leading scorer in the conference and the top option for the Pirates. The 6-foot-8 forward is also a more than capable rebounder and a solid passer out of the frontcourt. Miguel Paul (12.8 ppg, 5.7 apg) has led the team's impressive distribution efforts as the second leading assist-man in the conference.
Turnovers played a massive role in UAB's loss to Southern Miss. The Blazers coughed up the ball 20 times while taking it away from the Golden Eagles on just eight occasions. That led to a 21-5 deficit for the Blazers in points off turnovers that proved critical in the 15-point loss.
The Blazers are netting 72.8 points per game on the campaign, while shooting just 42.2 percent from the field. Like the Pirates the Blazers are able to move the ball effectively as they rank second in the conference in assists (16.2 pg). On defense the Blazers are letting up 72.6 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting. A trio of double-figure scorers lead the efforts for UAB. Chief among them is Rod Rucker (14.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) who will likely match up with Kemp on the interior. Jordan Swing (12.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is a versatile forward that can score from most spots on the floor as he shoots 38 percent from beyond the arc and 43.1 percent overall. Terence Jones (10.4 ppg, 4.0 apg) is the lead distributor but not a very efficient scorer as he hits just 36.6 percent of his attempts.
The battle between Rucker and Kemp on the interior should be a good one. UAB stumbled against Memphis last time it was at home but East Carolina won't provide the same type of challenge that the conference-leading Tigers did.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 74, East Carolina 70
01/23 10:43:00 ET