Two teams who saw their long winning streaks come to an end on Wednesday night will try to start new ones on Saturday morning at Bud Walton Arena.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham (11-2) will visit the University of Arkansas (7-6) for an 11 a.m. start that was moved up to accommodate Razorback fans so they could watch the Liberty Bowl.
The No. 24 Blazers had their 10-game winning streak stopped at Virginia 72-63 while Baylor was stopping the UA's modest five-game victory spree with a 70-47 rout.
"Well we have another outstanding opponent," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "A lot like couple of the teams we have played here late, don't have any glaring weaknesses.
"Offensively, they have pretty good balance inside and out and are shooting pretty good percentages," Pelphrey added "They are doing an unbelievable job on the backboard and have a very good team assist to turnover ratio."
Elijah Milsap, a 6-6, 210-pound junior forward, led UAB with a career-high 27 points and 11 rebounds in the loss and is one of three Division I transfers in the Blazer's top 6.
Millsap (16.3, 9.9) joins 6-8, 240-pound senior forward Howard Crawford (13.2), 6-4 junior guard Jamarr Sanders (11.2), 5-8 junior point guard Aaron Johnson (8.9) and 6-4, 215-pound Vanderbilt transfer George Drake (8.4) in the starting five.
UAB brings 6-10, 240-pound senior center Kenneth Cooper (6.2) – who played two season at Oklahoma State, transferred to Louisiana Tech and played one year and now is finishing up with his third team – off the bench.
"I think this team is probably as fast and as athletic as any that we have played, certainly right up there," Pelphrey said. "We are going to have to be able to match that athleticism."
UAB, which just jumped into the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week, lost in large part because it missed 10 of its last 15 free throws and were outscored 22-13 over the final 10 minutes of the game.
It left former Indiana and current UAB head coach Mike Davis – whose team has also lost to Kent State but owns wins over Georgia, Cincinnati and at South Alabama - praising the defense of Virginia (7-4).
"They made it tough on us," Davis said. "They contested some shots and took away our driving lanes. ... We fought hard in the second half but just came up short."
Pelphrey knows his team will have to do some of the same things to have success.
"I think we are going to have to be very good defensively and compete and rebound the basketball," Pelphrey said. "We are going to have to be able to guard the perimeter and your dealing with another couple of guys – like everybody's kind of got right now – they are very good perimeter players – so guard that perimeter, take care of that low post as far as rebounding and we are going to have to be able to handle their defense."
Arkansas likely won't know until game time if 6-10 center Michael Washington –night due to a nagging back injury – will be able to play on Saturday.
He certainly would help a team that made just 7 shots in the second half against Baylor – which is also the same amount it had blocked by Baylor's 6-10 Ekpe Udoh.
"We weren't able to make some shots," Pelphrey said. "…I'm not sure how many Ekpe had at halftime, but he may have had four, five or six in the second half…That's a big deal."
Arkansas trailed 34-31 at halftime before being overwhelmed in the second 20 minutes.
"They played mostly man in the first hand and then primarily zone in the second half and it was effective against us," Pelphrey said. "It's not your typical 2-3 flat zone."
Rotnei Clarke, Arkansas' leading scorer on the season, was shut down in the second half.
"We had a hard time getting everybody else into the mix and that is what you have got to have," Pelphrey said. "If they take somebody away, somebody else has got to be there.
"…We have got to play better at other spots and hopefully get healthy at another spot and be able to attack inside," Pelphrey added. "It's a team, everybody has got to feed off of each other."
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