Texas Trip Concludes at UTEP for Marshall

Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

EL PASO, Texas – Unable to start off Conference USA play with a victory, the Marshall men’s basketball team will take another crack at it while still in the state of Texas, against UTEP on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 9:05 p.m. ET in the Don Haskins Center.

In-game Twitter updates @HerdMBB, results and a recap from the night’s action will be available at HerdZone.com.

With an opportunity to start off fresh with Conference USA play beginning, the Thundering Herd came up short and fell, 90-81, at conference newcomer UTSA on Thursday night at the Convocation Center.

Marshall struggled to make a game of it late as freshman forward Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis, Ind.), sophomore forward TyQuane Goard (Charleston, W.Va.) and sophomore guard Chris Thomas (Denver) each fouled out of the contest in the waning minutes.

Off the bench, junior forward Shawn Smith (Sacramento, Calif.) made an impact with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in his emerging role as the Herd’s sixth man. Finishing as the game’s leading scorer, freshman guard Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.) scored 26 for Marshall in a losing effort. Thomas rounded out the trio of double-digit Herd scorers with 11 points.

The Herd is currently 0-8 away from home this season and has not won away from the Henderson Center since Feb. 20, 2013, in an 82-70 win over UCF. Marshall is 2-22 away from Huntington since the start of the 2012-13 season.

With the starting lineup having been adjusted by coach Tom Herrion as a result of bumps and bruises to members of the Herd, it seems that Herrion and his staff have settled on a lineup. For the last six games, the starting five has been Canty, Taylor, Goard, sophomore guard DeVince Boykins (Forest City, N.C.) and sophomore guard Chris Thomas (Denver). The group has posted a 2-4 record when starting together and is now the most used starting lineup to this point by Herrion.

Taylor, a redshirt freshman forward, has had a big impact for the Herd this season and last week especially as he was named Conference USA Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Monday afternoon.

On the three-game week, Taylor averaged 17.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game in road games at South Carolina (Dec. 30) and Akron (Jan. 2), before returning home to host PC (Jan. 5). In 29 minutes per game, Taylor finished 20-of-35 from the field (57.1 percent) and shot better than 50 percent in all three games.

On the season, Taylor ranks third on the Marshall roster in points (13.2) and first in rebounds (7.1). Since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of games at Vanderbilt (Dec. 5) and Penn State (Dec. 7), Taylor leads the Herd in scoring and rebounds per game.

Marshall has yet to win a game this season in which it failed to reach the 70-point plateau. The Herd is 2-7 when scoring 79 or less points and 4-3 when scoring above 80. Having a 5-3 record when keeping opponents below 79 points of offense, Marshall is 0-7 when allowing the opposition to score more than 80 points.

Free throws have been a point of emphasis for the Herd this season as Marshall is 4-2 when converting more attempts from the charity stripe than opponents and 2-8 when making less free throws than the opposition. The Herd is shooting 60.1 percent from the line this season (285-of-474). Marshall’s 189 missed free throw attempts rank first in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

With numerous scoring threats in the Marshall lineup, four members of the Herd are averaging double figures in scoring, three of which have become a mainstay in the Herd’s starting lineup: Canty with 17, Taylor with 13.2 and Thomas with 11.6. Smith is knocking on the double-digit doorstep as he is averaging 9.8 points off the bench.

The Herd has received scoring help from more than its top four scorers as Marshall has had three or more of its own score in double figures in 15 of 16 games this season. Unfortunately it has not always been enough as the Herd is 5-10 this season when three or more of its own score in double figures and 1-0 when two or less reach 10 points.

The benefit of having a true point guard has helped the Herd greatly this year and Canty has been the primary reason for that. An average of 6.7 assists per game has the freshman ranking 
eighth in the country in dimes, while he is the top assist man in C-USA. Canty has recorded three double-doubles on the season, all coming from a combination of points and assists. He most recently recorded 14 assists against Alice Lloyd (Dec. 17), setting a career best and tying for fourth-most steals in a single game by a member of the Herd in the history of the program.

Canty has led or tied for the lead in assists for the Herd in all 16 games this season.

UTEP enters its matchup with the Herd also in search of its first conference win of the season after dropping a 73-68 contest to Charlotte at home, Thursday night. The Miners are 10-6 overall on the year and 0-1 in C-USA play, with a 8-3 mark on its home floor.

Against the 49ers, UTEP’s lineup differed more than it has all season as McKenzie Moore, Justin Crosgile and Jalen Ragland were each dismissed from the team for having participated in betting on one or more sporting events.

With Moore having been the leading scorer with 13.1 points per game, Julian Washburn is now the top scorer with 11.7 points per game. The Herd will also have John Bohannon marked when he is on the floor as he is putting up 10.8 points per game, along with 8.1 boards.

On Saturday night, Marshall will look to do what it has never done before in the history of the program and that is beat UTEP in El Paso, where the Herd is 0-4 all-time. The Miners lead the overall series 8-2 with the last Marshall victory having come Jan. 4, 2012 in Huntington, 76-60.

The Herd will return home to take on its third-straight Texas team, North Texas on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.

GAME 17: MARSHALL (6-10, 0-1 C-USA) at UTEP (10-6, 0-1 C-USA)
Saturday, Jan. 11 – 9:05 p.m. ET
El Paso, Texas | Don Haskins Center (12,000)
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Game Notes

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