By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
State bragging rights are at stake.
The Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball team will travel east and collide with the south-bound West Virginia Mountaineers in the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic slated for tonight at the Charleston Civic Center.
Tip-off is slate for 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised by WVNS, Channel 59.
Unlike the football series between the schools that has always been dominated by West Virginia, Marshall has been able to hold its own against the Mountaineers on the court.
West Virginia holds a 29-11 series lead, but the Herd has won four times since 2001, including 81-79 in ‘01, along with wins in 2005 (59-55), 2006 (58-52) and 2011 (75-71).
These clubs first played in 1929. They have played 36 straight seasons.
Marshall, which enters with a 5-3 record, defeated North Carolina-Wilmington 61-58 last Saturday despite 26 points from Bluefield’s Craig Ponder, while West Virginia (2-3) hasn’t played since beating VMI 94-69 last Thursday.
Marshall, which has won three games, has dominated the glass this season, ranking 13th in the NCAA with 42.8 rebounds per game. The Herd has been out-rebounded just 12 times in their last 43 games.
They are 26-6 under head coach Tom Herrion when the Herd out-rebounds an opponent by at least 10. Dennis Tinnon leads the Herd with 9.4 boards a contest, and is tied for 38th nationally in rebounds. Teammate Nigel Spikes is tied for 47th with 9.1 a contest.
DeAndre Kane leads Marshall in scoring at 16.0 points a game. He ranks fourth in the nation with 8.4 assists a game. Four Herd players average in double figures, including Kane, Elijah Pittman (14.0), D.D. Scarver (13.9) and Tinnon (11.9).
West Virginia, which has an 18-5 record against Marshall in games played in Charleston, is led by Juwan Staten with 10.8 points a game. LaSalle transfer Aaric Murray is contributing 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds a contest.
Deniz Kilicli has tallied 9.4 points and 6.4 boards for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers.
Both teams have played on neutral courts this season. Marshall is 1-1 in that scenario, while West Virginia is 1-2.
Radio coverage will be provided by J104.5 FM and ESPN 102.3 FM.