Northeastern (5-6) at UAB (6-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bartow Arena (8,508) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Northeastern 1-5, UAB 5-0. Away Record: Northeastern 2-0, UAB 1-4. Neutral Record: Northeastern 2-1, UAB 0-2. Conference Record: Northeastern 0-0, UAB 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The UAB Blazers will look to continue their dominance at home when they host the Northeastern Huskies at Bartow Arena in a non-conference tilt on Saturday afternoon.
After a five-game losing streak, Northeastern finally got back in the win column with an 82-63 victory over Central Connecticut in its last time out. The win edged the Huskies to 5-6 overall this season and earned the Huskies their second win in as many tries on the road. This is the second of a three-game homestand that continues against George Mason on Thursday when the Huskies open up Colonial Athletic Association play.
The Blazers also came out on top in their last outing, topping ULM 76-69 in the first of a three-game homestand. UAB is now a perfect 5-0 at Bartow Arena this season while struggling to get many wins anywhere else. The Blazers have lost three of their last five and host Georgia Southern in their next contest.
This will be the first time these teams have ever been matched up on the hardwood.
Points from the free-throw line had a major impact on Northeastern's win over Central Connecticut. The Huskies outscored the Blue Devils 25-5 from the charity stripe while also shooting at a solid 51.0 percent from the field in the victory. Northeastern also had a 46-28 edge on the boards and got double-doubles from Jonathan Lee and Reggie Spencer, while Joel Smith scored a game-high 27 points.
The Huskies have a -0.3 scoring margin and a +1.9 edge on the boards by netting 67.2 points per game while bringing in 32.4 rebounds a contest. Opponents have managed to shoot at a less than ideal 46.8 percent from the floor against Northeastern. Smith (17.8 ppg, 3.1 apg) drives the offense out of the backcourt. He has been a workhorse this season and is one of just two players to have started all 11 games and the only to play more than 35 minutes per game. Quincy Ford (12.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Spencer (11.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) have each been solid in the frontcourt for the Huskies, while Lee (17.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) has been impressive after missing the first nine games of the year.
Rod Rucker scored 22 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double while the Blazers shot at an even 50.0 percent from the floor in the win over ULM. Four other players scored in double figures for UAB.
The Blazers have been a much more effective offensive squad this season than the Huskies. UAB scores at a 77.6 points-per-game clip which ranks among the top 40 best marks in the country. The Blazers are especially strong in distributing the ball as they hand out the 10th most assists (17.7 pg) in the nation. Defense has been a weak point as foes are putting up 74.8 points per game despite shooting a mediocre 44.4 percent from the field. Jordan Swing (15.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is the top scoring option and can score from just about anywhere on the floor. Rucker (13.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is more of a back-to- the-basket type player, while Fahro Alihodzic (10.0 ppg) can also score when called upon. Terence Jones (7.9 ppg, 4.2 apg) leads a team that has four players dishing out at least two assists per game.
The Blazers have been more than capable of scoring at a high level. That is especially true at home where they should again wind up on the winning side.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 78, Northeastern 70
12/29 10:38:38 ET