The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 19, 2012

Herd hosts Savannah St. looking for improvement

Maybe Marshall should have chucked 3s all day.

In their 72-56 loss last Saturday to No. 11 Cincinnati, the Thundering Herd hit 8 of their 12 3-point attempts. The percentage of 66.7 percent tied for the second-highest in team history.

All of which makes their overall 39.5 field-goal percentage look even worse than it already was. Throw in 20 turnovers and an alarming 51.9 percent at the free-throw line and Marshall had no chance of beating UC — Cincinnati, Charleston or otherwise.

“We were inept offensively,” Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said. “We were not able to get into any flow or rhythm offensively. Twenty turnovers are going to cause a problem any night.”

Improvement on all fronts is an obvious need as Marshall (6-5) prepares to host Savannah State tonight. Tip-off from the Cam Henderson Center, from where five of Marshall’s six wins have come, will be 7 p.m.

It will be a historic night for Marshall basketball — this will be the 450th Herd game played at the Henderson Center, which opened in 1981.

The Herd will be playing their second game without junior guard DeAndre Kane, who was leading the team in scoring at 15.0 points and was second in the nation with 8.5 assists per game before a right hand injury put him on the shelf indefinitely.

Kane’s absence creates the need for other players to step up. That includes freshman Tamron Manning, who handled the point most of the afternoon against the Bearcats. He had a 3-pointer and played a total of 30 minutes.

“We have some young guys that have to adjust to playing a different role,” Herrion said. “When you throw them to the wolves a little bit, they’ll gain great experience.”

Marshall is led by junior guard D.D. Scarver, who has back-to-back 20-point games. Scarver is averaging a team-high 15.3 points per game and is shooting 42.5 percent from 3-point range. He is 13 of 24 from long range his last three games.

Scarver and fellow junior college transfer Elijah Pittman have made at least one 3-pointer in every game this season. Pittman is averaging 14.7 points per game and is shooting 55.6 percent from the field.

Big men Dennis Tinnon (9.5 rebounds per game) and Nigel Spikes (8.9 rpg) have paced the Herd rebounding effort, which ranks 22nd in the country at 41.4 per game. Tinnon is fourth in Conference USA and Spikes is fifth.

Savannah State comes in with a 5-6 record, but the Tigers have arguably the toughest schedule in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Among their losses have been No. 7 Ohio State (85-45), No. 8 Florida (58-40) and Big East-deserting Marquette (71-51), all on the road.

The Tigers are led by senior forward Rashad Hassan’s team-high 12.9 points per game. The MEAC Preseason Player of the Year went over 1,000 career points earlier this season.

The teams have met twice before — in Herrion’s first season of 2010-11. Marshall won both games.

After today, Marshall will travel to Lexington, Ky., Saturday to meet reigning NCAA champion University of Kentucky. The game will tip at 4 p.m. and will air live on ESPN2.

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