DePaul vs. UAB Game Preview's Scott Phillips previews Saturday's showdown between the UAB Blazers and the DePaul Blue Demons in Birmingham, AL. Plus we get Jerry Wainwright's take on the Blazers…

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. UAB Blazers – Saturday, December 9, 2006 – 3:00 p.m. CST – Bartow Arena – Birmingham, Alabama

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Game Preview

DePaul heads on the road Saturday after winning its second straight game and pulling them to .500 for the first time this season. At 4-4, the Blue Demons travel to Alabama to face former conference foe UAB who comes into the game at 5-3. DePaul comes into the game with back-to-back home wins against Kansas and Chicago State. In both games the Blue Demons displayed great defensive intensity, and balanced scoring that they will look to continue against UAB. The UAB Blazers defeated Minnesota at home on Tuesday in an 88-81 double overtime thriller.

These two teams are quite familiar with each other from their days in Conference USA. The two teams played last season at the Allstate Arena with DePaul winning that contest 70-66. Close games have been a theme in this series recently as the last four games between the teams have all been within four points.

One difference between the UAB of old and the UAB of this year is the coaching staff. Former coach Mike Anderson has moved on to coach at Missouri while he has been replaced by former Indiana coach and Alabama native Mike Davis. Although Anderson takes his famous "40 minutes of hell" pressure basketball with him to Missouri, it's easy to see that Mike Davis has this team playing good basketball. DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright also sees the difference in the two coaches. "It's a whole different format," said Wainwright. "They still shoot a lot of threes, they're really athletic. I've been really impressed with how they play under Coach Davis, but it isn't the full court 40 minutes that Coach Anderson had."

UAB also has lost some key seniors from last year's team. The teams two leading scorers from last season's team, Demario Eddins and Marvett McDonald are gone as well as Squeaky Johnson, the heart and soul of the program. While those three players are surely missed, others have stepped up to take their place. Senior Wen Mukubu is averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as he continues his solid play from last season. Mukubu led the Blazers in scoring against DePaul last year with a 14 point effort. Although Mukubu's contribution this season has been expected, it is the emergence of 6-2 junior guard Paul Delaney that has surprised everyone. Delaney is off to a fast start this season as he is averaging 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. It is rare to see a player lead a team in scoring, rebounding, and assists, but Delaney is doing just that. DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright will look to limit Delaney's productivity. "We'll probably mix it up; we've got some really good defenders, wing defenders. We've got guys like Sammy Mejia, Jabari Currie, and our two little guys will do a good job," Wainwright said.

UAB is also a team that loves to shoot three pointers. They come into Saturday's game shooting 41% from beyond the arc, including Mukubu who is shooting a staggering 62% from three. DePaul must look to guard the perimeter and prevent UAB from getting a rhythm from the three point line. DePaul is no slouch from the perimeter either as they shot 64.7% from three point range against Chicago State including hitting all seven of their threes in the second half.

One thing in DePaul's favor is their consistent bench play. In Wednesday's win against Chicago State, all 12 scholarship players saw between 7 and 26 minutes of game time. DePaul should be well rested heading into this game.

On the contrary, UAB is coming off of a double-overtime game in which only eight of their players saw action. Each member of UAB's starting lineup saw at least 37 minutes, with three of those players playing at least 47 minutes. UAB's lack of depth could hurt them in this game if they get into foul trouble early.

With each team's juniors and seniors having played each other every season, this game could be decided by on the court leadership. While DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright has coached against UAB one time as DePaul's coach, UAB coach Mike Davis has never faced DePaul as a head coach. Each team's seniors have seen each other five times in the last three years, so they will know what to expect. This game should be a close one like this series always seems to indicate.

Notes: Former DePaul assistant coach Tracy Dildy is now an assistant on Davis' staff at UAB.

UAB sophomore guard Andre White was a teammate of DePaul signee Matija Poscic at Highland Community College last season.

UAB Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Last School

1 Maurice Gibbs Guard 6-2 200 SR Carbondale, Ill./Moberly Area (Mo.) CC

2 Thurston Rawls Guard 5-7 165 FR Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville

4 Paul Delaney III Guard 6-2 200 JR Decatur, Ga./Chamblee

11 Andre White Guard 5-11 180 SO Zion, Ill./Highland CC

12 Tyler Marsh Guard 5-10 171 FR Miami, Fla./Bridgton (Maine) Academy

15 Frank Holmes Forward 6-9 210 JR Somerville, Tenn./Fayett-Ware

21 Lawrence Kinnard Forward 6-8 210 SO Memphis, Tenn./Raleigh-Egypt

22 Mike Davis, Jr. Guard 6-3 185 JR Bloomington, Ind./Blackhawk CC

23 Taurus Dortch Guard 6-2 185 FR Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay

24 Wen Mukubu Guard/Forward 6-6 205 SR Miami, Fla./Arkansas

31 Jeremy Mayfield Forward 6-10 240 FR Irving, Texas/God's Academy

33 Curtis Nickson Center 6-9 245 FR Eutaw, Ala./Greene County

35 Howard Crawford Forward 6-8 200 FR Eutaw, Ala./Greene County

42 Walter Sharpe Forward 6-9 235 SO Birmingham, Ala./Mississippi State

45 Roderick Ollie Forward 6-5 220 SO Moorhead, Miss./Indianola Gentry


Mike Davis - Head Coach

Tracy Dildy - Assistant Head Coach

Donnie Marsh - Assistant Head Coach

Kerry Rupp - Assistant Head Coach

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