GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers will roll into a non-conference brawl with the Chattanooga Mocs at Bartow Arena on Wednesday night.
The Mocs won't have the benefit of much momentum entering this contest. Chattanooga has lost five of its last seven games following an 87-71 setback against Northern Kentucky on Sunday. The Mocs are just 4-7 overall and have lost all five of their road games. They will be hosting the Dr. Pepper Classic, beginning on Dec. 29, next.
After a rough time during the Charleston Classic, UAB has really been cruising, with wins in four straight games. The Blazers' most recent triumph was an 84-62 trampling of Georgia Southern during the first half of this two- game homestand. They are now 6-0 at Bartow Arena, but a date against LSU looms on Saturday.
In 11 all-time meetings between these programs, UAB has come out on top nine times. That includes the 92-81 victory the Blazers posted during the most recent meeting during the 2002-03 season.
Martynas Bareika poured in 29 points for Chattanooga in its loss to Northern Kentucky. Despite his efforts the Mocs were unable to get over the absence of leading scorer Z. Mason. They were also hurt by the 66.7 percent shooting rate from their opponent and the 36-percent showing they answered with.
Getting Mason back for this contest should help Chattanooga's cause. The 6- foot-6 forward not only tops the roster in scoring (18.6 ppg) but in rebounds as well (7.5 rpg). He had scored 41 points and collected 12 rebounds in the previous contest, marking the first time in program history a player has had a 40-10 game. Gee McGhee (12.1 ppg, 33. apg) is the next best scoring option, at least in the starting lineup. Bareika (10.7 ppg) is only averaging 18.3 minutes per game off the bench. However, he has scored in double figures in three straight games. Chattanooga is scoring a healthy 81.4 points per game. That has not mattered, as the Mocs are letting foes connect on 50.6 percent of their field goal tries.
In its win over Georgia Southern UAB limited the Spartans to just 32.4 percent shooting. The Blazers also controlled the boards (47-38) and enjoyed a 46-34 scoring advantage in the paint. Chad Frazier led the way with 19 points and six assists.
Dominating on the glass has been a normal occurrence for the Blazers. They not only lead the rest of Conference USA, but the nation as a whole, in rebounds (48.4 rpg). They are also scoring a respectable 78.9 points per game despite netting a pedestrian 43.4 percent from the floor. C.J. Washington (14.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) anchors an imposing frontcourt for UAB. Rod Rucker (11.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Fahro Alihodzic (9.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) are each forces to be reckoned with down low as well. Rucker was the most effective of the three against Georgia Southern, with eight points and 11 rebounds. Frazier (19.2 ppg, 5.1 apg) moves the offense along by piling up the points and the assists.
This might not be the best game for Mason to return. He will have trouble shaking off the rust against the Blazers' strong frontcourt. That is bad news for a team that is winless on the road.
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