Maryland vs. UAB: how to watch, listen, game preview

Maryland (1-1, 0-0 B1G) vs. UAB (0-2, 0-0 AAC)
When: Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, 12:30 PM
Where: Harrah’s Cherokee Center, Asheville, North Carolina
Watch: ESPN2
Listen: 105.7 FM (Balt) / 980 AM (DC) / SiriusXM Channel 385
Betting: Maryland -5.5, O/U: 140.5

In a game the Terps never led, the fourth three-pointer from Davidson forward Bobby Durkin proved to be the difference on Friday night as Maryland dropped its first game in the Asheville Tournament, but more importantly, first game away from Xfinity in a 64-61 loss.

Maryland will look to rebound in an early afternoon tipoff against UAB, who led by as many as nine points against Clemson before falling, 77-76, in their second consecutive loss to open the season. After defeating Morehouse College in an exhibition, 88-70, the Blazers opened the season with a two-point loss against Bradley at home.

Opponent Overview

Head coach Andy Kennedy is in his fourth season as the Blazers’ head coach after posting at least 22 wins in each season with the program. After posting 14 conference wins in each of the last two seasons in the C-USA, UAB enters its first season in the AAC with lofty expectations after being picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll. UAB is coming off consecutive postseason finishes, first a 12-seed against Houston in the 2021 NCAA Tournament followed by an NIT championship appearance after a 29-win season in 2022-23.

This year, UAB is led by junior guard Eric Gaines, who enters Sunday leading the team in points (17) and assists (2.5) per game. Gaines is also the lone returning starter and one of four returners who played more than ten minutes per game last season. Gaines closed his sophomore year averaging 11.5 points en route to an honorable mention All-Conference selection, but enters the season as the Blazers’ alpha dog averaging 17 points through the first two games.

The frontcourt is led by 6-foot-9 forward Javian Davis, who’s averaging a double-double thanks to a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds against Bradley. Guards James White and Tony Toney, along with forward Yaxel Lendeborg, are expected to start next to Gaines and Davis against Maryland.

What to Watch

Knock down open jumpers

Maryland shot just 30.8% from the field in the second half, finishing with six turnovers to just eight missed field goals. While the poor three-point shooting resurfaced once again as Maryland is 5-of-24 from deep to start the year, the lack of comfort within the offense has been apparent.

After a quiet opener, Jahmir Young notched his 2,000th career point after finishing with a game-high 18 points against Davidson, but is part of the Terps’ ball-handling issues early with seven of Maryland’s 28 turnovers through two games. Maryland has turned to both DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jahari Long to run point behind Young, but the Terps will need their playmaker to step up as head coach Kevin Willard looks to create more efficient high-low scoring.

Julian Reese also welcomed routine double teams against Davidson, likely foreshadowing how the Terps junior forward will be guarded the rest of the season. While Reese did well passing out of the block to find the open man along the perimeter, Maryland struggled to connect on those open shots showing early flashes of last year’s struggles. The Terps are leaning on Noah Batchelor, who knocked down a pair of threes on Friday, and Jamie Kaiser Jr. to help boost the perimeter shooting, but Maryland will get a chance to close the weekend out on a high note against a UAB defense that’s teams to shoot over 46% from the field.

Dominate the post

When Maryland got Julian Reese the ball in game one, he shined en route to 18 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes as he battled foul trouble. It took time for the junior to get going on Friday, but when he got the ball in the post, Reese got it going again after posting his eighth career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Maryland has a chance to utilize its length and size against UAB on the offensive end and, as Willard made clear he wants to do, the Terps have a chance to feed Reese early and often. Reese tallied eight points after accounting for six of the Terps’ 11 shots over the five to ten-minute mark during the second half of Friday night’s loss, and Sunday may see similar results with the junior facing an advantageous matchup in the paint against a UAB team lacking size. Meanwhile, Jordan Geronimo has taken just three shots to start the season after playing in exactly 17 minutes in both games, but the athletic yet physical forward fits as the small-ball five against UAB’s roster, potentially giving him a chance to showcase his offseason improvement around the rim. Donta Scott will also look to contribute, while Maryland will look to get Mady Traore back after he was sidelined in Friday’s loss.

Which Maryland team shows up?

Maryland went down just once inside Xfinity last year while finishing the conference slate unscathed, but after finishing 6-12 on either a neutral or road court, the persistent question in year one under Kevin Willard was whether the Terps could win away from College Park?

Maryland pulled out a 15-point season-opening win against The Mount in a game that featured some highlights and lows, but Friday’s contest was anything but that as Maryland trailed all but five minutes against Davidson. Maryland’s guards struggled to find much success offensively as Jahmir Young and DeShawn Harris-Smith combined to shoot 33% from the field, while the consistent defensive lapses largely from Donta Scott allowed Davidson to finish over 53% from three. Maryland enters Sunday with another favorite favorable matchup inside-and-out with Harris-Smith able to showcase himself as an elite defender in Gaines, but whether Saturday’s rest helps the team reset on Sunday will loom large heading into next Friday’s road game vs. Villanova.

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