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Next Up in March Madness For UCLA: UAB Blazers

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UCLA meets UAB tomorrow in the NCAA tournament. Here's a look at the UAB Blazers.

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Well, that first game was easy. Beat Hall of Fame coach. Check. Survive 19-0 run. Check. Have point guard make 9 3s in a game and win on a goaltending call on a three-point shot. Check. Then let their point guard, shooting lights out also, have two good looks for the win which he misses.No problem.

Assuming you have recovered from the game by now (you knew we were going to win after Powell dribbled the ball off of his foot, right?) it's time to take a look at our next opponent, UAB. We faced this team early in the season in the Bahamas and beat them but that was quite some time ago. And they just beat Iowa State, a #3 seed, that some of us (well, Matt) had going to the Final Four. So we should not take them lightly.

1.  UCLA 88 UAB 76

This was a good win for us, the third game in three days after being pummeled by North Carolina and Oklahoma. We were up by 22 points with about 8 minutes to go in the game when UAB sort of made a run but the game was never seriously in doubt. Hamilton had one of his better games of the season, 21 points and 5-9 from three-point range.  Welsh had a nice game as well, 12 points and 6 boards. William Lee, one of their better players now, did not play in that game. We won the rebounding battle by nine, with 18 offensive rebounds, but they also had 16 offensive rebounds. So the offensive rebounds against Iowa State that helped them win were no fluke.

2.  UAB 60 IOWA STATE 59

What a coincidence that this was the same score as our game. How did UAB win that game? Well, first they just beat up Iowa State on the boards. Iowa State is a small team and UAB has two 6-9 starters and another two 6'8 players coming off of the bench.  UAB had 19 offensive rebounds and an overall 15 rebound advantage. Tyler Madison, a reserve guard, had 11 rebounds and 9 points in only 14 minutes (you would think he might have earned some more playing time) They also did a good job stopping Georges Niang, Iowa State's best player, holding him to only 11 points on 4-15 shooting. Robert Brown led UAB with 21 points  (3 of 7 three-pointers, the rest of the team was 0 for 11) and William Lee chipping in 14.

3.  WHAT DO STATS TELL US ABOUT UAB AND ITS MATCH-UP WITH UCLA

With regard to their defense, they hold opponents to a 41.9 fg% (ranked 110th), effective shooting percentage of 47.1%  (90th), a two-point fg% of 46.9% (133rd),  and a three-point percentage of 31.6 (49th). So they appear to be pretty good at defending the three and maybe not so good at defending the paint and/or rim. Offensively, they don't shoot the three that well, only 32.6% (241) and don't appear to get a lot of high-percentage close-in looks, as they only shoot 46.7% of their 2-point shots (222). Not a good shooting team.

But they can rebound, at least on the offensive end. Their offensive rebounding percentage is 32.5% (67th). UCLA's is pretty good at defensive rebounding at 74% (54th) and that may help to off-set UAB's offensive rebounding prowess (though it did not the first game). Defensive rebounding for UAB is weak--they only rebound 69.7% of missed shots (228th) while UCLA rebounds 31.3% of rebounds on the offensive end (110th), so that should be an advantage for UCLA (as it was the first game).

4.  UAB Players and Match-ups with UCLA

The two reliable scorers for UAB are Robert Brown and William Lee. Robert Brown averages 13 points a game and William Lee, an up-and-coming freshman, adds 8 points and 6 rebounds (but 11 points and 6.5 rebounds over the past five games). They have a 9 man rotation and the scoring is pretty well distributed, with 8 players averaging at least 6 points a game. Nick North, UAB's freshman point guard, averages 7.4 points, 3.8  assists, and 1.8 turnovers--not exactly huge numbers.

As for match-ups, the one thing that stands out (and thanks to Matt for pointing this out) is that UAB's point guard is only 5'10" and that might give Bryce Alford the ability to easily shoot over him, as he did with Nic Moore. Bryce only shot 1-8 the first game, but that was the 3rd game in 3 days, and his legs might have been shot. So we might have an advantage there. You might expect that Looney would be a force on the offensive glass, given UAB's weakness on the defensive glass. Parker should be able to work inside against no one bigger than 6'9 or weighing more than 220 pounds; he only had 8 points in 17 minutes due to foul trouble in the first game.

5.  UAB Rotation Player Stats

Robert Brown, 6-5 190, 32.3 Min, 13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists

William Lee, 6-9 219 23.4 min, 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds

Chris Cokley, 6-8 216,  17.0 min, 7.9  points, 4.5 rebounds

Hakeem Baxter, 6-2 170, 26.2 min, 7.6 points, 3.1 rebounds

Nick Norton, 5-10, 175, 27.2 min, 7.4 points, 3.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers

Tosin Mehinti, 6-9 213, 22.7 minutes, 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds

C.J. Washington, 6-8 21, 18.1 minutes, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 rebounds

Tyler Madison, 6-4 225, 17.1 minutes, 6.3 points, 3.5 rebounds

Denzell Watts, 6-2 170, 18.2 minutes, 4.2 points, 1.7 rebounds

This should be a much easier opponent than SMU, but Iowa State probably thought that too, and look what happened. We need to come to play.