The weather report for Birmingham is favorable for those heading to Bartow Arena for UAB’s Conference USA game against UTEP.
“It seems like every time we have a home game, the world’s coming to an end,” UAB head coach Andy Kennedy joked after his team opened Conference USA play with a win over Charlotte on December 22. “Last time we were here, it was like tornado weather and now they’re saying black ice.”
Thursday night’s forecast calls for pleasant weather, so it’s a good night to get down to Bartow Arena for the Blazers’ second home game of conference play. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 p.m. As with every home game in conference play, it’s an important one for the Blazers.
“In order to have any chance ... to play significant basketball in the month of March, you’ve got to protect your home court,” Kennedy said. “We’ve [been] able to do that, to this point, we’ve got to continue to do that.”
UAB heads into tonight with a 10-2 record overall and the Blazers won all eight games played in Bartow Arena. During Kennedy’s tenure at UAB, the Blazers are 38-3 at Bartow Arena with two of those losses coming in Conference USA play.
UTEP (8-4 overall, 1-0 C-USA) is searching for its first 2-0 start in C-USA play since the 2012-13 season. The Miners began conference play with a 60-55 victory over visiting Louisiana Tech on December 17. However, the Miners lost all three of their games away from home in non-conference play.
The Miners are led by Southern Miss transfer Tae Hardy, a 6-foot-3 junior, who averages 12.8 points per game. Hardy, guard Shamar Givance (nine points, four assists per game) and 6-foot-7 junior Calvin Solomon are the only Miners to start all 12 games. Mario McKinney, a 6-foot-1 guard, is expected to play after suffering a hamstring injury last week. He is the only other Miner in double figures, averaging 10.4 points per game.
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