Charleston, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of undefeated programs head to TD Arena this afternoon, as the UAB Blazers clash with the 19th-ranked New Mexico Lobos as part of the Charleston Classic.
New Mexico, expected to be a major contender in the Mountain West Conference again this season, has delivered back-to-back victories to kick off 2013-14. The Lobos began the campaign with an easy 88-52 victory over Alabama A&M, but on Sunday the squad was pushed rather hard by Charleston Southern before coming away with a 109-93 final at home.
As for the Blazers, they actually have an even better record than UNM at the moment with three wins in as many tries. UAB has posted wins over Columbus State, Rutgers and most recently, Troy (81-69).
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these schools on the hardwood. Both will be back in action on Friday, facing off against Nebraska and UMass, depending on the outcomes of the two matchups.
With a victory, the Blazers will have their 700th in program history.
UAB scored the first points of the game against the Trojans last week and never looked back as the hosts shot 50.0 percent from the field and 16-of-17 at the free-throw line in order to overcome 20 turnovers. CJ Washington converted all but three of his 14 field goal attempts as he finished with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. Robert Williams pitched in with 12 points and eight boards off the bench, followed by Chad Frazier and Fahro Alihodzic with 10 points apiece. Frazier also handed out seven assists while Alihodzic pulled down 10 rebounds.
Washington, who is shooting better from the floor (.625) than he is at the free-throw line (.417) through three games, leads the team with 20.0 ppg and is also a leading rebounder with more than eight per contest. As a group, the Blazers have been pounding the competition on the glass with a rebounding advantage of a staggering 20.6 per game. That action in the paint has helped the program overcome a weak 28.3 percent shooting effort from 3-point range.
Shooting 60.7 percent from the floor in the first half, the Lobos earned themselves a 52-36 edge over Charleston Southern at the break, but then played even with the visitors the rest of the way on Sunday. New Mexico finished the meeting with close to 60 percent accuracy from the field and also knocked down 9-of-18 beyond the arc. Cameron Bairstow led the way with 29 points, followed by Alex Kirk with 24 and 13 boards. Kendall Williams had a double-double of his own with 20 points and 10 assists, while Cullen Neal and Cleveland Thomas pitched in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Bairstow may be the leading scorer for the Lobos with his 25.5 ppg, stemming from a sizzling 78.3 percent shooting from the floor, but the play of Kirk has been just as critical for the squad. Kirk is averaging a double-double with 20.0 points and a team-best 12.5 rebounds per game, his seven blocked shots also serving as a team-high. Williams (18.5 ppg) has taken just eight shots from the floor in two games, but his 20-of-22 showing at the charity stripe has helped bolster his numbers.