Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 9, 2013

Marshall needs wins in Conference USA

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BECKLEY — All the talk for seven months of Marshall having shot at an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament wound up being just that — talk.

There isn’t a quality win to be found. Games against the likes of Cincinnati and Kentucky were not even close, lost by a combined 44 points.

Then there were mind-numbing losses to South Dakota State and Delaware State.

If the Thundering Herd wants to play postseason basketball for the fourth year in a row — and the Tournament no longer counts — it will have to win the Conference USA Tournament, plain and simple.

The first step toward that goal starts tonight, when Tulsa visits the Cam Henderson Center. The non-televised game will tip off at 7 p.m.

The Herd (7-8) is coming off a 94-57 loss at Ohio last Saturday. Beyond the return of junior guard DeAndre Kane, who had missed four consecutive games with a right hand injury, there was no bright spot for Marshall against the Bobcats.

The offensive struggles continued for Marshall, which turned the ball over 26 times. It shot 20-of-57 (35.1 percent) from the floor and was just 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) from 3-point range.

At the free-throw line, Marshall was 14-for-29 (48.3 percent).

“I’m very disappointed,” head coach Tom Herrion said. “Our inability to take care of the ball at every position and pretty much every player was inexplicable to a certain extent and unacceptable. There is no team in the country who plays (good) defense with those types of turnovers.”

Kane came off the bench to play 20 minutes — and fouled out. He scored six points and had eight rebounds.

Kane is averaging 14.2 points per game and 7.9 assists.

Tonight’s opponent might draw a little inspiration out of the Herd, who last played Tulsa (9-6, 1-0 C-USA) in the quartefinals of last season’s conference tournament.

Marshall earned an epic 105-100 triple-overtime win in which Kane scored 40 points

The Herd is led in scoring by Elijah Pittman with 14.5 points per game, ranking him 11th in C-USA. Junior guard D.D. Scarver is averaging 14.1 points per game. Both players have hit at least one 3-pointer in every game this season.

The Golden Hurricane, which is coached by University of Kansas legend Danny Manning, has won three of its last four games, including a 48-47 win at SMU Sunday in its C-USA opener.

Freshman guard James Woodard averages 13.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He has won the C-USA Freshman of the Week award three times.

— E-mail: gfauber