It’s a contest between a pair of Conference USA opponents in the Bluegrass State. The UAB Blazers are on the road as they travel to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Thursday night. UAB won their fourth straight game by beating Louisiana Tech 74-62 at home Saturday. Western Kentucky has won six in a row after downing Charlotte 73-63 on the road Saturday. The Blazers own a 22-13 edge in the all-time series between the schools but it was the Hilltoppers taking a 76-64 win at home in the last matchup on February 19, 2017.
Line: Western Kentucky -7
UAB Blazers Seek Fifth Straight Win
UAB is on a bit of a roll as they have won four straight coming into this contest after they dispatched Louisiana Tech. The Blazers come into this one 13-5 overall and 4-1 in Conference USA. UAB trailed by one at the half but outscored Louisiana Tech 35-22 in the second half to get the win. The Blazers shot a solid 53.4 percent from the field and knocked down six of 15 three point attempts while struggling to a six of 13 showing at the free throw line. UAB forced 18 turnovers and held Louisiana Tech to 40 percent shooting in the game. Chris Cokley led the Blazers with 24 points and seven rebounds in the game.
The Blazers are a good offensive unit this season as they come in ranked 79th in the nation with 79.5 points per game. UAB is 76th in rebounding with 38.2 boards a night while they clock in tied for 31st in assists with 17 per game. The Blazers are good on the defensive end as they are tied for 45th in scoring defense by allowing 65.9 points per game. UAB knocks down 50 percent of their shots from the floor as a team. The Blazers connect on 7.1 threes a night and sink 36.9 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. UAB has been excellent at the free throw line, converting 76.8 percent of their chances this season. Chris Cokley is leading the team with 17.8 points plus 9.2 rebounds per game. Zack Bryant (13.8 points, three assists) is one of two other players in double figures for the Blazers. Nate Darling (10.6 points), William Lee, Jalen Perry, Lewis Sullivan and Nick Norton all put up at least 7.5 points a game for UAB this season.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Go for Lucky Number Seven
Western Kentucky has been on a roll themselves as they have reeled off six straight wins after their road victory in Charlotte. The Hilltoppers improved their record to 13-5 overall and stand 5-0 in Conference USA, tied with Middle Tennessee in the top spot. Western Kentucky led by eight at the half and withstood Charlotte’s attempts to rally in the second half to get the win. The Hilltoppers struggled to shoot 39.1 percent from the field and three of 14 from three point range. Western Kentucky was 20 of 29 at the line but won the rebounding battle 46-38. Lamonte Bearden led the Hilltoppers with 19 points in the win.
The Hilltoppers have been good offensively so far as they are tied for 75th in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 79 points per game. Western Kentucky is tied for 177th in rebounding with 36.1 boards per contest and 126th in assists with 14.7 a night. The Hilltoppers have been above average on the defensive end of the floor. The team comes into this one 109th in the nation as they allow 69.6 points per game. Darius Thompson leads the team with 15.6 points plus five assists per game. Dwight Coleby adds 11.8 points plus 8.6 rebounds per contest, Lamonte Bearden chips 12.3 points a night while Taveion Hollingsworth contributes 12.8 points per game. Justin Johnson (13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds) and Jake Ohmer (7.5 points) are solid contributors for Western Kentucky this season. The Hilltoppers are shooting 49.9 percent from the floor as a team. Western Kentucky splashes 6.2 three pointers a game while shooting 40.2 percent from beyond the arc. The Hilltoppers are converting only 68.3 percent of their free throw attempts.
- Blazers are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
- Hilltoppers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss
- Hilltoppers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
Two of the top three teams in Conference USA lock up here and it’s likely to be an entertaining tilt. Both teams come in with momentum as the Blazers have won four straight while the Hilltoppers have knocked off their last six foes. The biggest edge in this one might lie in the venue: Western Kentucky has a 7-2 record at home this season. While UAB has a winning road record (3-1) this season, the majority of their damage has come at the Bartow Arena. You have to lean toward Western Kentucky at home in this contest.