Road Test at Rice Awaits Marshall

Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Having concluded an unsuccessful homestand in a pair of Conference USA contests, the Marshall men’s basketball team will look to get back on track with a road game at Rice on Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern inside Tudor Fieldhouse.

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

With a first-half lead that reached nine points before its home crowd, the young Thundering Herd buckled under the pressure to allow Tulsa to take the game, 69-52.

With 10:31 left in the game, the Herd led 45-42 and Tulsa rallied furiously with eight points in 56 seconds to take a 50-45 lead with little over nine minutes left. The Golden Hurricane run snowballed, leaving Marshall scrambling to keep the score close.

Once Tulsa stretched its lead to double-digits, it would remain that way for the remainder of the afternoon as a 27-7 run took 10:17 off the clock. As the buzzer sounded, Thomas finished as the Herd’s leading scorer with 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, followed by 12 points from Canty. Once again, Marshall struggled from the field, only shooting 32.8 percent on 19-58 for the game.

The Herd is currently 0-9 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 2-23 away from Huntington since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Marshall coach Tom Herrion shifted the starting line-up, giving junior forward Shawn Smith (Sacramento, Calif.) his first-career start for the Herd, while junior big man Cheikh Sane (Dakar, Senegal) was re-inserted into the starting five.

The starting lineup in the previous eight games consisted of freshman guard Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.), sophomore swingman TyQuane Goard (Charleston, W.Va.), sophomore guard DeVince Boykins (Forest City, N.C.), freshman forward Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis) and sophomore Chris Thomas (Denver). The group has posted a 2-6 record when starting together and is the most used starting lineup by Herrion.

Marshall has yet to win a game this season in which it failed to reach the 70-point plateau. The Herd is 2-10 when scoring 79 or less points and 4-3 when scoring above 80. Having a 6-5 record when keeping opponents below 79 points of offense, Marshall is 0-8 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 2-10 when making fewer free throws than the opposition. The Herd is shooting 60.6 percent from the line this season (328-of-541). Marshall’s 213 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 16.7, Taylor with 13.5 and Thomas with 11.4. Smith is knocking on the double-digit doorstep as he is averaging 8.8 points in his sixth-man role.

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 19 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 1-3 when two or less reach 10 points.

In each of the last three games, no more than two members of the Herd have scored in double figures.

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 6.6 assists per game has the freshman ranking eighth in the country, while he is the second-best assist man in C-USA. Canty has recorded three double-doubles on the season, all coming from a combination of points and assists.

Canty has led or tied for the lead in assists for the Herd in all 19 games this season.

Currently in a seven-game losing streak, Rice’s recent struggles rivals that of the Herd, who has currently lost its last four. Both sides enter the contest with winless marks in C-USA through their first four attempts. The Owls have posted a 3-5 record on its home floor at Tudor Fieldhouse.

Austin Ramljak leads Rice in scoring with 12.6 points per game as a starter, while freshman forward Shen Obi is putting up 11.2 points along with 9.2 rebounds per contest.

Marshall holds serve, 7-2, in the series between the two programs, with the Herd having won four straight against the Owls. Historically having found success against Rice in Houston, Marshall is 3-0 all-time at Tudor Fieldhouse. Last season’s meeting between the Herd and Owls occurred in Huntington on Feb. 13, 2013 with Marshall having won 71-70.

Marshall will continue its trip with a nationally-televised tilt at Louisiana Tech, Saturday on CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. Eastern.

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