U-A-B (14-14) at U-C-F (20-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: UAB 8-7, UCF 15-2. Away Record: UAB 6-7, UCF 3-6. Neutral Record: UAB 0-0, UCF 2-1. Conference Record: UAB 9-6, UCF 9-6. Series Record: UAB leads, 7-1.
GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers and the UCF Knights square off in Orlando this evening to break a tie for fourth place in the Conference USA standings, as the regular season comes to an end for both teams.
UAB is having a perfectly average year overall, winning as many games as it has lost (14-14), although it has picked up the pace of late by winning four in a row and seven of its last eight to improve to 9-6 in conference. Its latest triumph came on Wednesday as it held off Tulsa, 68-64. UAB has held its own on the road this season, claiming six wins in 13 games outside of Birmingham.
UCF has had a solid season overall at 20-9, one of just three C-USA teams to have registered at least 20 wins, but lately it has fallen off the torrid pace by losing three of its last five, including an 84-55 waxing at the hands of Memphis on Tuesday. All three of those losses came on the road however, and the Knights are surely thrilled to be back at UCF Arena where they have won 15 of 17 games this season.
UAB has won seven of the first eight meetings in the series with UCF, but the Knights' lone win came earlier this season in a defensive battle, 48-41, on Jan. 21 in Birmingham.
UAB has found much of its success this year thanks to its stout defense, which allows 61 ppg on 40.9 percent field goal shooting to its opponents, both tops in the conference. The Blazers' defensive stance has been even better of late, giving up a mere 55.5 ppg during their four-game win streak, highlighted by a minuscule 28 points surrendered to SMU on Feb. 15. Though their offensive output ranks near the bottom of the conference (60.2 ppg), they have shot better of late, connecting on 47.1 percent of their field goal attempts in Wednesday's win over Tulsa, led by stellar performances from Jordan Swing (22 points) and Cameron Moore (18 points, nine rebounds). Moore has been one of the most dominant forces in the conference this season, ranking third in scoring (16.3 ppg) while sitting first in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and blocks (2.5 bpg), all while shooting 49.9 percent from the field. Swing provides support from the outside, netting 11.2 ppg with a three-point field goal percentage of .381.
UCF has a similar makeup to UAB in terms of its strong defense (62.6 ppg), although it scores slightly more on offense, ranking eighth in C-USA with 66.3 ppg. The Knights failed to show up at either end of the court in Tuesday's loss to Memphis however, as they shot just 38.8 percent from the floor, which included a dreadful 2-of-14 showing from three-point range, while allowing the Tigers to hit on a scorching 58.9 percent of their total shots. Isaiah Sykes was the lone Knight to register double figures on the evening, netting 13 points, and he now averages a productive 12.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg on the season. UCF's answer to UAB's Moore in the low block is Keith Clanton, who leads the team in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (8.5 rpg) and blocks (1.9 bpg). Marcus Jordan has been effective with his point totals (14.1 ppg), although he has struggled shooting the ball (.373). Both of these squads are solid on the glass, with UCF (+4.1) and UAB (+2.8) both posting positive rebounding margins.
UAB comes into this game as the hotter team, and it has registered impressive road wins over UTEP, Marshall and Rice recently. Although UCF got blown out earlier in the week, it has been a completely different team at home. The raucous crowd at UCF Arena will be up to task in helping lift the Knights to a win in the regular-season finale.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 63, UAB 60
03/03 10:41:14 ET