The high-scoring Blazers of UAB will host an SEC opponent tonight in the South Carolina Gamecocks. We'll preview the game and then get into why the over is the play to make in this one.
Sitting at the bottom of the SEC standings before conference play even begins is not how any team wants to start the season. This is the situation the South Carolina Gamecocks find themselves in, and their opponent tonight happens to be one of the best mid-majors in the country.
The Gamecocks have a lot of talent on their roster, starting with leading scorer GG Jackson who was the number one player in the 2023 class before reclassifying. Jackson leads the team with 17.1 points per game, but the offense as a whole has been disappointing this season. The team enters tonight with a shooting percentage of 40.6% and only averages 11.8 assists per game.
Defensively they have not been much better, putting up a defensive efficiency rating of 100.6 on KenPom, which is 128th in the country. The Gamecocks have been unable to force turnovers this season, only forcing an average of 11.2 a game. With defensive numbers like this, the UAB backcourt of Jelly Walker and Eric Gaines most likely kept Gamecocks head coach Lamont Paris awake last night.
The Blazers are averaging 85.1 points per game this season which is tied for fourth highest in the country. Behind Walker and Gaines, the Blazers run at the fifth-highest tempo in all of college basketball, according to KenPom. This has led to Walker averaging a team-high 24.9 points per game.
Despite their 97.1 defensive efficiency rating on KenPom, the Blazers allow an average of 71.5 points per game this season. Opponents have been able to average an effective field goal percentage of 46.9% on the Blazers' defense.
I eluded to it earlier, but my best bet for this game is the over of 143.5. The over has gone 6-2 in UAB games this season, and after tonight I think there will be another win in the win column.
Even with their fast pace of play, the Blazers have been good about limiting turnovers, with only 13.3 a game. With the Gamecocks' inability to force turnovers, the Blazers should be able to attempt close to their usual average of 63.9 field goal attempts a game. The Gamecocks have allowed an effective field goal percentage of 53.7%, so Walker and Gaines could be in for another big scoring night.
UAB and South Carolina are two of the best offensive-rebounding teams in the country, leading to plenty of second-chance scoring opportunities for both teams. Despite their slow start to the season, the Gamecocks do have three players averaging in double figures, and it could be four soon with the way Meechie Johnson has played over the last two games, so the Gamecocks do have scoring options to keep pace with Walker and Gaines.