GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd look to build some more momentum before entering the Conference USA Tournament as they close out their regular season at Mingles Coliseum against the East Carolina Pirates.
The Thundering Herd coasted past the Pirates on Jan. 19 at the Cam Henderson Center to a 77-56 victory in the first bout of the season between these conference foes. The win improved Marshall to 13-6 all-time versus the Pirates. This will be a battle of the two leading assist men in C-USA with junior guard DeAndre Kane who ranks first at 6.9 per game and Miguel Paul who is second at 6.7.
Tom Herrion's Thundering Herd avenged a 56-point loss to Southern Miss on Wednesday as they downed the Golden Eagles, 88-84, behind a season-best 55.1 percent shooting from the floor. The Senior Night victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Marshall and put it in a tie for eighth place with Houston and Tulane.
Elijah Pittman scored 22 points, D.D. Scarver added 19 and Tamron Manning chipped in 12 points for the Herd in their huge win over USM. Marshall used a 1-3-1 zone to frustrate the Golden Eagles at times and also hit on 10-of-20 attempts from 3-point range. Kane dealt out seven of the team's 20 assists to help out. Pittman paces the team with 16.0 ppg, while Kane posts 14.7 ppg. Scarver (12.5 ppg) and Dennis Tinnon (10.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg) also play integral roles in Herrion's system. 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 3.7 ppg.
The Pirates returned to Greenville from a three-game road swing on Wednesday to take down Tulane, 88-85, for their third win in the past four games. ECU needs just one more win to finish with its first winning record in league play since joining Conference USA. Another victory would also give the program its second 18-win season in three years under coach Jeff Lebo.
ECU has a very dangerous tandem in senior Maurice Kemp and junior Akeem Richmond. Kemp has scored over 20 points in six of the last eight games to raise his conference-leading average to 18.4 ppg. Kemp has scored 514 points this season and also paces the squad on the glass with 7.7 rpg. Richmond has scored double figures in a season-long six straight games, averaging 20.3 points. He is 35-of-67 (.522) behind the arc in those games with an average of 5.8 made 3-point shots. The Pirates are one of the most tenacious offensive teams in the nation with an average of 76.9 ppg and 17.3 apg.
Many had high hopes for Marshall coming into this season and its performance against Southern Miss earlier this week showed that belief was not completely misguided. The Herd have talent, but they are inconsistent. ECU is playing very well right now and will have the edge on Senior Night. Marshall rallied in the C-USA Tournament last season before falling to Memphis in the title game. Perhaps it is gearing up for another similar run.
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