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Chuck Landon: Road wins hard to come by in C-USA

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 11:25 PM

Many NCAA conferences have slogans.

So, what is Conference USA's?

If it's not "Home, Sweet, Home," it should be.

I mean, has anyone noticed what is happening in C-USA? The home team almost always wins. In fact, Conference USA has taken home court advantage to an entirely different level.

Think I'm exaggerating?

Marshall's overwhelming 77-56 win over an over-rated East Carolina team Saturday before 6,056 fans at the Henderson Center gave C-USA's home teams a 6-1 record for the day.

That raised the C-USA home teams' record to 97-19 this season. Yes, 97-19. That's an off-the-charts winning percentage of .836.

In fact, eight of the 12 conference members have only one or less loss at home this season. Southern Miss is 7-0, Tulane 11-1, Memphis 10-1, East Carolina 10-1, Marshall 8-1, UTEP 8-1, Tulsa 8-1 and UAB 7-1.

So, is it any great surprise that Marshall defeated Tulsa by 18 points and drilled East Carolina by 21 points in the friendly, homey confines of The Cam?

Not in this league.

It's the way of the C-USA world.

"That doesn't surprise me," said Marshall coach Tom Herrion. "This league is different geographically. It doesn't allow your fan base to travel.

"For example, we used one ticket at El Paso (for Marshall's game at UTEP eight days ago). One ticket. And we gave that to a guy who talked to us for 30 minutes in the hotel."

That's what makes this week's schedule such a daunting task. The Herd plays at Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Reed Green Coliseum where the Eagles have won 22 consecutive games.

Then, after spending the night in Hattiesburg, Miss., the Herd will bus to Memphis on Thursday. That's where they will prepare to take on the Tigers at 2 p.m. Saturday in the FedExForum.

Those two teams are a combined 17-1 at home this season.

"We've got two straight road games," said Dennis Tinnon, after turning in another double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

"We've got to be really focused. Road games are really hard to win. They just are."

Particularly in C-USA.

But why is that? Why is C-USA such a home team league? Why is it so extremely difficult to win on the road in C-USA?

"You go in the arenas and you've got about six fans and the rest are their fans," said DeAndre Kane, after scoring a game-high 22 points along with eight assists and three steals. "It's really like us against the world on the road.

"And you know you're going to get beat up by the refs."

So, what does it take to win on the road?

"You've just got to do everything better," said Kane. "You've got to focus better, prepare better, execute better, play defense better. Sometimes when we go on the road, some of the guys think it's play time because they don't have to go to class. It's not.

"We haven't won a road game yet this season. We know that. We are stressing that."

If Marshall can play anywhere near the level it performed against both Tulsa and East Carolina, that winless road streak could end.

If the Herd can defend the 3-point line like it did against East Carolina, pound the boards like it did against Tulsa and shoot the ball as well as it did in both games. ... well, Marshall could buck the C-USA trend.

"We've got to bottle it up and take it on the road," said Herrion.

Talk about a message in a bottle.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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