Herd Looks for Season Sweep of Pirates
It will be the final regular season game for both teams with still much to be decided in terms of seeding for the Conference USA Championships, held March 13-16 in Tulsa, Okla.
The Thundering Herd (13-17, 6-9 C-USA) could be anywhere from a No. 7 – No. 10 seed depending on numerous scenarios that could occur with Saturday’s slate of games. Currently the Herd sits in 10th place, which would be the ninth seed when UCF, ineligible for postseason play, is removed from the standings.
The Pirates (17-11, 8-7 C-USA) sit in fifth place in the C-USA standings and have clinched the No. 4 seed for next week’s tournament. They will receive a first round bye along with No. 1 seed Memphis, No. 2 seed Southern Miss, No. 3 seed UTEP and the No. 5 seed which is yet to be determined.
In the two team’s first meeting this year, Marshall jumped out to a 43-23 halftime lead and never looked back in a 77-56 win on Jan. 19. To earn the series sweep, the Herd will have to record its second road win of the season (1-10). However, Marshall is going in with much momentum from an 88-84 win over the second-best team in the conference, Southern Miss on Tuesday. It was a win that was special for seniors Robert Goff, Nigel Spikes and Dennis Tinnon, victorious in their final game at the Cam Henderson Center.
East Carolina seniors Shamarr Bowden, Maurice Kemp, Miguel Paul and Erin Straughn will play their final games at home on Saturday. Kemp leads the conference in scoring with 18.4 points per game while Paul is in a battle with Marshall’s DeAndre Kane for the conference assist title. Kane leads at 6.9 assists per game (10th in the NCAA) and Paul is second at 6.7 (11th in the NCAA).
Marshall leads the conference in offensive rebounds per game (14.4) and is second in rebounding overall (38.2). East Carolina has strength in offense, scoring 76.9 points per game, the second-best in the conference while recording a conference-best 17.3 assists per game.
Marshall is led in scoring by junior forward Elijah Pittman who is averaging 16.1 points per game, the best of any conference newcomer and the seventh best in C-USA. He has recorded at least 20 points in six of his last nine games including 22 against the Golden Eagles on Tuesday. Kane is 11th in C-USA with 14.7 points per game.
The Herd leads the season series 13-6, but in Greenville the series is tied 4-4.
The game can be heard on the radio throughout the Thundering Herd IMG Sports Network. It can be viewed and herd online with a paid subscription to Herd All-Access. Gametracker can be accessed through HerdZone.com. Follow @HerdZone on twitter for scoring updates in every game throughout the season.