GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers open a two-game homestand on Sunday night, as they tangle with the Georgia Southern Eagles in a non-conference affair.
Since suffering a three-game losing streak a few weeks back, Georgia Southern has righted the ship with wins in three of four to climb back to .500 at 5-5. The Eagles began this brief two-game road swing on Dec. 7 with a 79-61 victory over South Carolina State.
UAB has also had a hot hand of late, with its 74-69 victory at Northeastern on Dec. 7 being the third straight to improve to 7-2 on the campaign for its best start since the 2010-11 season. The Blazers have enjoyed some home cooking this season, winning all five of their contests at Bartow Arena.
The Blazers have a comfortable 6-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Eagles. The teams met at Bartow Arena last season as well, with UAB claiming the Jan. 2, 2013 matchup, 65-61.
Georgia Southern made easy work of SC State the last time out thanks to a 50 percent shooting performance, which included a stellar 10-of-23 effort from 3- point range. It also played solid defense by forcing 19 turnovers, resulting in 29 points. Angel Matias was outstanding in the triumph with 22 points (on 8-of-12 from the field) to go with nine rebounds. Tre Bussey and Curtis Diamond each netted 14 points, with the latter doing his damage on 4-of-5 from 3-point range, while Jelani Hewitt rounded out the balanced effort with 13 points. The Eagles have had great success scoring this season, as they pour in just shy of 80 points per game on 45.5 percent field goal shooting, and they have also grown accustomed to winning the takeaway battle with a +2.8 turnover margin. The majority of the scoring success comes thanks to Hewitt (23.5 ppg) and Bussey (20.4 ppg), who both rank in the top-35 nationally in scoring.
UAB trailed Northeastern by one point with 1:30 left in its latest game before Fahro Alihodzic put the team ahead for good with a layup, and the Blazers made 5-of-8 from the foul line in the final 36 seconds to seal the victory. The squad shot 47.5 percent from the field and was led by the efforts of Chad Frazier, who tallied 19 points, six rebounds and five assists. Jordan Swing (14 points), Alihodzic (13 points, six rebounds) and Rod Rucker (12 points) were also integral pieces in the triumph. Despite shooting a modest 42.8 percent from the field, the Blazers are able to amass 78.3 points per game (+5.0 scoring margin) thanks mostly to their nation-leading 48.6 rebounds per game, nearly 36 percent of which come on the offensive glass. Frazier is the offensive spark plug with 19.2 points and 5.0 assists per game, while CJ Washington (14.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Rucker (12.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Alihodzic (9.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) make up an excellent frontcourt.
Despite Georgia Southern's recent run, it has still largely been inconsistent this season, which doesn't bode well heading into hostile territory against a UAB squad that will do its best to beat up the Eagles in the paint.
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