The Sunshine Slam Championship game will tip-off today at 4:00 PM ET, as the UAB Blazers will take on the Georgia Bulldogs. The Conference USA juggernaut UAB is favored in this match-up but do they have what it takes to win and cover? We’ll dive into a preview of the game and then get into what side to back in this one.
The UAB Blazers enter this championship game with a 3-1 record and boasting one of the best backcourts in the entire country. Jordan “Jelly” Walker and Eric Gaines are a huge reason why this team is averaging 92 points per game and shooting 49.6% from the field.
Walker leads the team scoring averaging 23.2 ppg and he is not afraid to shoot from anywhere on the court. Gaines is a great running mate for Walker as he averages 5.8 assists and has elite athleticism. At times the Blazers have struggled to get scoring production off their bench this season so that could play a factor today since they played yesterday as well.
Georgia enters today with a 4-1 record despite poor shooting so far this season. The Bulldogs are shooting only 39.6% from the field and 30.2% from three which has led to them only averaging 69.4 ppg. Terry Roberts takes a majority of the shots on offense so he’ll need to shoot better than 37% from the field in order to keep up with Walker and the Blazers.
Since their offense has struggled the Bulldogs have stepped on defense and only allow 64 ppg and enter today after allowing only 53 points in their game yesterday. Georgia has the advantage when it comes to size and depth so we’ll see if this deep bench can slow the Blazers' offensive attack.
UAB opened as -7.5 point favorites but that number has made its way up to -9.5 where it stands now in most books. I’ll be taking the underdog Bulldogs in this one at +9.5. Jelly Walker and Eric Gaines are certainly talented and can light up any defense but I don’t think UAB can get enough scoring elsewhere in order to pull away by double digits.
The rebounding ability and size advantage Georgia has made up for the cold-shooting start they have had. I would expect the Bulldogs to start to head in a better direction on the offensive end of the floor and have a big opportunity to get some momentum on offense against this lackluster UAB defense.
When teams are playing on back-to-back days it’s important to look at bench depth and Georgia plays a bigger rotation of players so they could be a lot more fresh for today’s game as opposed to the Blazers who rely primarily on their backcourt to lead them. As long as the Bulldogs can be efficient on offense and don’t play at the Blazers' preferred pace I think Georgia can cover.