Herd gets another shot at UAB
HUNTINGTON -- Tristan Spurlock of the UCF Knights made a steal and was headed for a layup Wednesday night when D.D. Scarver met him at the basket.
Scarver's blocked shot on the final play of the first half protected Marshall's 14-point lead and sent the Thundering Herd men's basketball team into the locker room with momentum that continued throughout an 82-70 road win in UCF Arena.
The 6-foot-4 Scarver said he used good timing to reject the 6-8 Spurlock, but Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said it was more than that.
"It was huge," Herrion said Friday before practice. "We turned it over then we made a hustle play. Huge. It energized our runway going back to the locker room."
Scarver is known mostly as a 3-point shooter and scorer, but he's proving he can do more. Along with 16 points he had three rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Making plays isn't just making shots, said Scarver, a junior guard averaging 13.0 points and ranked fourth in Conference USA for 3-point field goals made with 2.2 per game.
"There are a lot of ways to impact the game," Herrion said.
Scarver wore a Mike Davis Camp T-shirt to practice this week.
Maybe it was coincidence, but maybe not with UAB (12-14, 4-7 C-USA) coming in to play Marshall (12-15, 5-7) at 7 p.m., Saturday, in Cam Henderson Center. Davis was the former head coach of the Blazers from Scarver's hometown of Birmingham, Ala.
Scarver might have wanted some extra motivation going against UAB for the second time.
He had about 100 family members and fans in the stands Feb. 9 when UAB dealt Marshall a 75-61 defeat in Bartow Arena.
It was a bad night for Scarver and the Herd. Scarver missed all seven of his shots from the field and scored one point.
"I have to make up for it tomorrow," he said.
After Wednesday's victory at UCF, which was MU's first road win of the season, Herrion said he popped in the tape of the loss at UAB.
Herrion saw the more aggressive Blazers burn the Herd with nine 3-point baskets, build a plus-nine rebound advantage and pull away by 22 points late in the game.
Then he couldn't sleep.
"I guess we can play worse than we did against UAB, but not much worse," he said.
Guarding UAB's array of 3-point shooters -- Jordan Swing (49 of 128), T.J. Jones (34 of 117), Preston Purifoy (28 of 75), Robert Williams (26 of 68) and Quincy Taylor (21 of 59) -- is a Marshall priority, but the Blazers can win other ways.
UAB has beaten Tulsa, Marshall and Rice while losing to East Carolina in its last four games.
"Rucker doesn't shoot threes," Herrion said about 6-5 forward Rod Rucker who averages 13.7 points and is sixth in C-USA with 8.2 rebounds per game.
Swing, a 6-6 forward, is UAB's scoring leader (13.8) while 6-10 Foz Alihodzic provides 9.7 from off the bench. Jones and Williams score 9.0 and 9.1 respectively.
Purifoy is a junior guard scoring 8.0 a game and chasing the conference throw percentage record for a season. He is 55-for-60 for 91.6 percent. The record of 92.2 percent was set by Zamal Nixon of Houston in 2011.
Marshall's scoring is led by forward Elijah Pittman (15.6), point guard Dre Kane (14.6), Scarver and forward Dennis Tinnon (10.8). Tinnon and center Nigel Spikes average 9.4 and 7.2 rebounds respectively.
Kane is first in C-USA and seventh nationally with 7.2 assists a game. The junior's 1,409 career points is six shy of tying Markel Humphrey (2005-09) for 18th place in school history.