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Men’s basketball preview: South Carolina vs. UAB

Miracles can happen

NCAA Basketball: Presbyterian at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina vs. UAB
Date: Wednesday, December 14th
Time: 7:00 PM
Channel: CBSSN
Location: Bartow Arena - Birmingham, AL

South Carolina is looking to continue its momentum from their win against Presbyterian College heading into Birmingham. The Gamecocks and Blazers are quite unfamiliar with each other, having only faced four times in the history of both programs. The Gamecocks got the better of UAB in their latest matchup last season 66-63.

UAB is currently 7-2 on the season, dropping their last game against West Virginia after going on a six-game win streak. They are ranked 47th on KenPom’s latest advanced metric ratings and continue to rise with quality wins.

The Blazers are just recently making a splash in college basketball, with their two most recent NCAA Tournament appearances being in 2015 and 2022. But don’t get confused, they put up 87 points a game and shoot 50% from the field. To go along with that, The Blazers swipe nine steals per contest.

Returning senior guard Jordan Walker captains this Blazer squad, leading them to a 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament while averaging 20.3 points per game last season. He is currently one of two Blazers averaging double figure points with 24.9 while shooting an efficient 44.4% from the field.

The Gamecocks are currently looking to turn around their slow start to the season. Sitting at 5-4, with bad losses to Furman and George Washington, a miracle is needed for this South Carolina squad to squeeze into the NCAA Tournament.

In their last five games, the Gamecocks are 3-2, with wins over Presbyterian College, Georgetown, and USC Upstate. However, these wins did not come easy. South Carolina was down 31-28 at half to USC Upstate and were forced to battle their way back for the double digit victory. The Hoyas of Georgetown took the Gamecocks to the wire as the Gamecocks squeezed out a 74-71 victory in OT.

In order for South Carolina to win this game, GG Jackson has to have the game of his life. Don’t get me wrong, he is playing well, averaging 17.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. However, he is going to have to play like prime Kevin Durant for the Gamecocks to pull this one out.

Being the only 7-footer on the team, Josh Gray has a key role in paint defense coming off the bench. He has left much to be desired in that aspect. Especially when it comes to fouling, as he is averaging 2.2 fouls per game in just 11.2 minutes.

The Gamecocks have had a huge problem with turnovers this season. They are averaging an absurd 13 turnovers game compared to just 11.8 assists a game. Limiting these turnovers will be key if the Gamecocks hope to leave Birmingham with a victory.

KenPom is giving the Gamecocks a 10% chance to defeat UAB with a score prediction of UAB 79, South Carolina 65.

My Prediction: UAB 82, South Carolina 64