Gamenight: Memphis at UAB

Justin KundratCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2009

This has to be the best C-USA game of the year, and one of the most anticipated by fans all week. Memphis has been climbing the polls all season after getting off a slow start. They have won 18 straight games including non-conference matchups against Gonzaga and Tennessee.

Tonight marks the Tigers’ second meeting with UAB. They won the  first one at home, by 13. Since then, very few teams have stood a chance against Memphis, as they have been BLOWING OUT conference opponents. They enter tonight with an average scoring margin of +17.1 points per game.

Led by arguably the best freshman in the nation, Tyreke Evans, the Tigers are now ranked No. 5 in the country at 24-3 overall. They returned Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, and Shawn Taggart from last year’s finalist team, and each is currently averaging over 10 points and five rebounds per game.

What stands out the most though is the recent play of Evans, who leads the team in scoring at 17.1 and is the main reason that Memphis has been able to continue their C-USA dominance. It’s safe to say at this point that the Tigers will be heading to the tournament yet again and are destined for a No. 2 seed, although a No. 1 is not out of the picture.

Aside from Memphis, there is only one other Conference-USA team worthy of bid consideration, and that just happens to be the UAB Blazers. This will undoubtedly be the Tigers’ biggest challenge since league play started as Uab is probably the only team capable of breaking their winning streak.

UAB stands at 19-8 overall and 9-3 in the conference with their most notable win coming at Arizona. But they have also played Oklahoma, Boston College, Cincinnati, and Butler very closely and were only a couple of shots away from winning.

The Blazers are led by three FANTASTIC seniors, most notably Robert Vaden, who all average at least 15 points per game. Vaden was held to just 12 in these teams’ most recent meeting, and UAB will need a big performance from him if they expect to win.

UAB’s only chance at getting an at-large bid would mean winning tonight on their home court, where they are 12-0 this season. This matchup is always a rivalry and by far the biggest game of the season for the Blazers. The key will be stopping Evans and restricting ball movement, something very few teams have been able to do against Memphis. 

The game is at 9pm eastern on ESPN2. Be sure to tune in!

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