As West Virginia looks to their first true road test of the 2021-22 season, let’s take a look at five things to know before the UAB game.
Can WVU Play Sloppy on the Box Score and Still Win?
West Virginia comes into the game on Saturday with a 9-1 record, but let’s not act like they haven’t played sloppy so far this season. The Mountaineers are 352nd in the country in free-throw shooting and 353rd in defensive rebounding. For WVU, most of these games were at home, will they be able to do this against an opposing crowd?
Read my column about this entire topic here.
Malik Curry is Very Familiar with UAB
Malik Curry has adjusted into his role on his new team in the beginning of the season. Curry, an Old Dominion transfer, used to play in Conference USA, with UAB. The Wilmington, DE, native has played the Blazers four times. Curry has a career average of 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals against UAB.
Curry has shown flashes of becoming that third scoring option for the Mountaineers, as Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil are scoring 48.2 percent of the points this season. Curry had a season high of 16 points against Eastern Kentucky, scoring the Mountaineers’ final baskets to seal the game. Curry is averaging 6.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals through his first 10 games as a Mountaineer.
Maybe the fifth-year senior guard can have a breakout game on Saturday?
Huggins Coaching Against Friend Andy Kennedy
You may ask, “why is West Virginia traveling down to Birmingham, Alabama, to play at UAB?” Usually a mid-major would come up to WVU and play the Mountaineers.
“We’re playing them because of AK [Andy Kennedy],” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said.
Kennedy, the current head coach at UAB, assisted under Huggins at Cincinnati from 2001-05, and took over for a season after Huggins stepped down. Kennedy went on to coach at Ole Miss for 12 seasons before coming back to his alma mater in 2020. Huggins and Kennedy scheduled a home-and-home between the two during the spring.
Kennedy, in his second season at UAB, has his Blazers at a 9-2 record. UAB averages 82.7 points per game, with notable wins against Saint Louis and New Mexico.
West Virginia is a +3 underdog against UAB.
The WVU money line is set at +130.
If you’re really confident in West Virginia this season, take the bet. The Mountaineers as underdogs on the road against a 9-2 team, isn’t surprising. This is the first true road test for this maturing West Virginia team. Luckily for them, UAB’s football team is playing BYU in the Independence Bowl, at 3:30, so a lot of the fans will be focusing on football and not go to the basketball game. WVU will still have to deal with UAB’s biggest basketball fans though.
West Virginia will lose if they get out-rebounded AND shoot 60 percent from the free-throw line. If you’re confident that they won’t do that, then take the bet.
How to Watch and Listen
You can watch West Virginia take on UAB on Saturday, at 5 p.m., on CBS Sports Network. The non-conference matchup between the Mountaineers and the Blazers will take place inside the Legacy Arena.
Mountaineer Sports Network will broadcast the game on the radio, with Tony Caridi and Jay Jacobs once again calling WVU games for the entirety of this season.
(Top Photo: Kelsie LeRose / WVSN)