Miners Take Aim at Busting Another Streak on Saturday at UAB
Jan. 17, 2014
After snapping Middle Tennessee's 25-game home conference winning streak on Thursday, the UTEP Miners (12-6) will face a UAB team that is unbeaten at home this season on Saturday.
UAB is 10-0 at Bartow Arena, including wins over Rutgers (79-76) and North Carolina (63-59).
"UAB is vastly improved from a year ago," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "When you take a team that beat you last year and their 1 and 2 scorers are now 3 and 6, it tells you they have made great strides offensively. It's a dynamic offensive unit. They own a win against North Carolina, which should tell you we have a tremendous challenge in front of us."
UAB (12-4) squared its C-USA mark at 1-1 with a 78-65 win over UTSA on Thursday in Birmingham. Junior forward C.J. Washington had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers. Senior center Fahro Alihodzic scored 17 points, and senior forward Rod Rucker snared 10 rebounds. UAB held UTSA to 32.4 percent shooting, including 24.2 percent in the second half. The Blazers had 13 blocked shots, including four from Alihodzic.
The Blazers' top two scorers last season, Rucker and senior swingman Jordan Swing, average 10.6 ppg and 8.8 ppg respectively. Newcomers Chad Frazier (transfer from Gulf Coast CC) and Washington (transfer from Tallahassee CC) are averaging 17.6 ppg and 14.9 ppg to lead the team.
Frazier is the team leader in assists (4.8 avg.) and Washington is averaging a team-high 7.9 rebounds. Alihodzic chips in with 10.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 1.1 bpg.
The Blazers have made more free throws (284) than their opponents have attempted (275). UAB is first in C-USA in rebound margin (+11.6 rpg), and third in free throw percentage (.712), field goal percentage defense (.401) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.290). UAB is fourth nationally in rebound margin behind Quinnipiac, Kentucky and Indiana, and 25th in three-point field goal percentage defense.
"They have a great willingness to pursue the ball on the offensive boards," Floyd said. "Rucker is an undersized All-Conference USA player with a nose for the ball. Alihodzic is a great position rebounder. They create a lot of possessions in the game, which creates more rebounding opportunities for their players."
UAB has won three straight over the Miners following three consecutive UTEP victories. The Blazers lead the series 8-6. UAB is 5-1 versus UTEP in Birmingham, with all six games decided by nine points or less.
UAB has won eight of the 13 matchups between the schools as C-USA members. Ten of the 13 games have been settled by nine points or fewer. In the last four games the outcome has been determined by two, three, one and six points.
UTEP and UAB have staged some epic battles as members of Conference USA. The Miners and Blazers played a double-overtime game in Birmingham in 2010, a triple-overtime affair in 2011 and an overtime contest in 2013. The last two games between the schools at the Don Haskins Center have been decided by two points (2010) and one point (2012).