Southern Miss Preview: Finishing Strong
Updated: Mar 5, 2022
The Blazers are looking to extend their winning streak to three games after coming off a two-game road sweep this past week. In fact, that was UAB’s first conference road sweep of the season. UAB was able to defeat UTEP Saturday night 69-66 in El Paso and also beat UTSA 68-56 in San Antonio on Thursday. Neither of those games were perfect games for the Blazers but it was great to see UAB finally pull off two road wins in a week. UAB now has a one game lead on Louisiana Tech to get that number two seed in the Conference USA tournament. The number two seed would allow for the Blazers to get a much-needed bye into the quarterfinals. Can UAB make it three road wins in a row?
The Blazers will certainly try to get that third win on the road by making the trip to Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg for the first time in a couple years this Wednesday night. Last season, due to the odd COVID scheduling in Conference USA, these two teams played back-to-back games in Bartow with UAB winning both of those games. The last time UAB made the trip over to Reed Green was on February 23, 2019, where the Blazers won 76-72. UAB owns the Southern Miss series overall with 35 wins to just 19 losses. Currently, the Blazers are on a three-game winning streak over the Golden Eagles. It is also worth noting that UAB is 12-11 at Southern Miss all-time. These two teams met earlier in the season with the Blazers getting a comfortable 84-63 win over the Golden Eagles just a few weeks ago in Bartow Arena. In that game, UAB had a few guys step up and get double digits. Jordan Walker lead the way that evening with 25 points. Additionally, KJ Buffen, Trey Jemison, and Quan Jackson were all able to get to double digits. Jamal Johnson was able to come off the bench and get 11 points while also nailing three huge 3 pointers to help spark key UAB runs in that game.
Will this be the last time UAB makes the trip over to Reed Green? With Southern Miss, ODU, and Marshall preparing to leave Conference USA for the Sun Belt a year earlier than expected this might be the last trip on the hardwood to Hattiesburg at least in conference for UAB. Will Southern Miss wear those awful warm up pants again on Wednesday? I sure hope not, but let’s go ahead and get to our three keys to victory for UAB to handle business against Southern Miss:
1. Limit the turnovers please. Those that saw the win over UTEP Saturday night know that the first half of that game was sloppy for UAB. UAB uncharacteristically turned the ball over 17 times Saturday night with 9 of those coming in the first 10 minutes of the game. I don’t think I’ve seen this UAB team be so disorganized and sloppy with the ball all season long. It should be common sense that you must take care of the basketball, especially playing on the road in conference. There was a lot of inerrant passing and guys just not communicating with each other effectively. On defense, UAB will also have to force the Golden Eagles into some turnovers. During the matchup earlier this season in Bartow, the Blazers only forced 9 Southern Miss turnovers and only had 2 steals. UAB will need Quan Jackson to get at least a few steals himself on defense this Wednesday night in order for the Blazers to get out of Hattiesburg with a win.
2. Stop Tyler Stevenson. (Worth a note....Stevenson has not played in 2 games and Southern Miss has been down to 7 scholarship players. This key to the game is of course if Tyler plays) This guy is by far the best player on the Southern Miss roster. The 6’8” junior forward averages 14.5 points a game and had well above that a few weeks ago getting 24 points against the Blazers. UAB will need the big men down low to step up and play good team defense this Wednesday night to stop the Stevenson attack. Their other forward, Pinckney, is capable too but we can’t let Stevenson get confident early on in the game.
3. Free throws. You must hit your free throws on the road to have a good chance at coming out with the victory. Luckily for UAB, they did just that in both road games this past week. In San Antonio, the Blazers made 15 of 21 of their free throws for 71.4% and in El Paso made 10 of 12 for 83.3%. Let’s hope that this trend carries over this week in Hattiesburg.
John Duncan: UAB wins a close low scoring affair over Southern Miss. Steals and free throws will matter in the out come of this game.
Score: 64 to 59
Brad Cummings: Unlike John I happen to like the throw back pants Southern Miss wears. What I don't like is their chances in this game. UAB looking to finish strong will win this game pretty convincingly, albeit there could be a few bumps during the game.
Score: 80 to 62