By GARY FAUBER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
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 CollegeBasketballInsider.com 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