GAME NOTES: After enduring three consecutive losses during their road swing, the Houston Cougars return home to Hofheinz Pavilion to host the Marshall Thundering Herd for a Conference USA tilt.
Although Houston holds a 5-4 all-time series lead over Marshall, the Thundering Herd have come out of the last three meetings on top, including their 66-58 decision in Huntington on Feb. 22, 2012.
Tom Herrion's Thundering Herd allowed UAB to complete a season sweep of them a week ago as they fell, 52-48, to the Blazers at the Cam Henderson Center. The setback dropped the team to 12-16, but it came just one game after it defeated UCF, 82-70, to notch its first true road win of the campaign.
Elijah Pittman stood alone for the Herd in double figures in the loss to UAB with 18 points, despite going 5-of-15 from the floor in the contest. Nigel Spikes nearly recorded a double-double with nine points and 15 rebounds, while DeAndre Kane went 3-of-13 from the field to net nine points. Dennis Tinnon, who grabs 9.4 rpg, had recorded double-doubles in consecutive games for the first time this season before producing only four points and six rebounds versus UAB. Pittman paces the team with 15.7 ppg, while Kane posts 14.4 points and a C-USA leading 7.0 assists per tilt. The Thundering Herd are one of just two teams in the conference with a negative scoring margin as they are being out-produced by an average of 3.1 ppg.
Dickey Nutt's Cougars began a three-game road swing after defeating the Miners but did not find the same success outside of the Lone Star State. First they were dealt a 101-92 triple overtime loss at Tulsa before being handed an 81-74 setback by the Tigers at Memphis. The slide continued on Wednesday as Houston dropped a 63-53 decision at Texas-El Paso in the final chapter of the trip. The three consecutive losses dropped Houston to a 15-11 overall record which includes an unimpressive 4-9 mark versus league rivals. Joseph Young is leading the team in scoring with 17.8 ppg, while TaShawn Thomas is close behind with a near double-double average of 16.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per tilt.
Young poured in 23 points at the Don Haskins Center in Houston's last appearance, but the Cougars let UTEP go in front by as many as 13 points in the first half which turned out to be an insurmountable deficit. The Miners outscored Houston by six points at the charity stripe and held a 39-24 edge in the rebounding battle to hold them off. The other four players to start alongside Young combined to go 5-of-19 from the floor and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. Although it did not appear that way in El Paso, Nutt's unit is leading the C-USA offensively with an average of 76.8 ppg and is second in the conference in three-point efficiency (.370) also. However, it is last in the league defensively with an allowed average of 72.3 ppg.
Marshall has some talent on its roster, but it very rarely pulls it all together for a full 40 minutes. The Cougars should be able to light up the Herd's poor perimeter defense that ranks second to last in 3-point field goal percentage defense (0.355). Young will have a field day as long as Kane, who was projected to be First-Team All Conference, continues to submit sub par performances.
Sports Network Projected Outcome: Houston 77, Marshall 70
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