UAB will play its final nonconference game before Conference USA play begins when it hosts Southern at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS Sports Network. The Blazers are off to an 8-2 start but could be challenged by a Southern squad that has been tested over the course of a grueling schedule.
The Jaguars' start was marked by four straight road games against UNLV, Arizona, Saint Mary's and California. Southern beat Cal 74-66 and proved competitive in the other three games against major conference opponents. Southern is a veteran squad led by four players who appeared on the for the 2023 HBCU All-Star Game (Click here for tickets), including leading scorers Brion Whitley and Bryson Etienne. Both are proficient outside shooters who could give UAB trouble if the Blazers aren't locked in defensively.
Under third-year coach Andy Kennedy, the Blazers are proving to be an offensive force. Their average of 87.5 points per game ranks No. 7 nationally behind Jordan "Jelly" Walker's 24.6 points per contest. The 5-foot-11 guard has reached double figures in every game this season for UAB and was great for the Blazers in high-profile wins over Georgia and South Carolina.
Defensively, UAB struggled some in a 93-85 loss to Toledo on Nov. 11 and in an 81-70 loss at West Virginia on Dec. 10. All in all, though, the Blazers are off to a solid start after making the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 2015. If UAB can survive Southern, it will enter Conference play with momentum and feeling good about its chances of returning to the Big Dance.
A win would mark a signature victory for the Jaguars, however, and they have shown the ability to push prestigious opponents early this season.