Herd opens vs. Tulane
TULSA, Okla. -- Marshall's Thundering Herd is setting out to finish the job this time.
Last year's Conference USA men's basketball tournament run of three victories on successive days put Marshall as the No. 6 seed against No. 1 seed Memphis for the championship on the fourth day and the Tigers won on their home court.
This week Marshall is an even longer shot as the No. 9 seed, but still needs four wins in four days to wear the crown. The approach is day to day, minute to minute, timeout to timeout and half to half, Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said.
"It's (game) one of four Wednesday night," Herrion said
Marshall, 13-18 for the season, and Tulane (18-13) meet in the Nos. 9 vs. 8 seeds first-round game at 9:30 p.m., Wednesday in the BOK Center, a shiny, relatively new downtown Tulsa facility with seating for 19,199. Both teams went 6-10 in the conference and Tulane earned the higher seed based on a Feb. 6 victory over Marshall in New Orleans.
The winner gets a 7 p.m., Thursday, quarterfinal date with conference regular season champion and national No. 20-ranked Memphis (27-4). The Tigers ran through the conference with a 16-0 record
"We've got to take each game as it comes," said Marshall junior guard Dre Kane, an All-CUSA second team selection. "Right now our focus is on Tulane."
Nobody in the Marshall camp is looking ahead, but forward Rob Goff can't help having Memphis on his mind.
"The loss in the championship game is definitely in the back of my head," Goff said. "Every time we play Memphis I get a sick feeling."
Herrion said the 2012 tournament performance is a nice reference point for players who were part of it because they know Marshall can make things happen.
But, Goff said this is a different team in another season.
"(Dre) Kane, Scoop (Nigel Spikes), Dennis Tinnon and me were on the team that made that run last year and I think we can draw from that," Goff said.
Marshall is in the 8-9 first round game for the fourth time in its eight-year C-USA history. Tulane (No. 8) ousted Marshall in 2006 and the Green Wave (No. 9) also dumped the Herd in 2008. Marshall (No. 8) knocked off UAB in 2007.
St. Louis won the 2000 tournament as a No. 9 seed.
It's a long road to the championship, but there is optimism.
"We dug ourselves in this hole," Goff said. "With the team we have, we're capable of anything."
Marshall had a miserable visit to New Orleans in February. Tulane dropped 59 points on the defenseless Herd in the first half and that was about all it needed in a 91-75 victory. The Herd's saving grace in Devlin Fieldhouse was somewhat of a comeback from a 59-35 halftime deficit to outscore the Green Wave in the final 20 minutes, 40-32.
Like so many Marshall games this season, it was too little too late.
"The first 20 minutes was painful," Herrion said. "Unacceptable."
Tulane was led to victory by Josh Davis, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, with 23 points and 12 rebounds in one of his conference-best 16 double-double games. Davis went on to receive all-conference first team honors as the only player in the league averaging double-figure points (17.5) and rebounds (10/.3).
Davis began his career with two seasons at N.C. State in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., and has played two at Tulane.
Sophomore guard Ricky Tarrant, an all-conference second team player, hit the Herd with 19 points. The 6-2 guard has a 16.1 average. Senior guard Jordan Callahan followed with 12 points on four-for-four 3-point shooting and has a 10.9.
Green Wave head coach Ed Conroy runs a unique spread offense with a lot of 3-point shooting. At times Conroy goes with a small lineup spread around the perimeter. Tulane made 11 3-pointers in the first meeting.
"They got the best of us," Kane said. "They hit a lot of threes, got on the break and we didn't rebound."
Marshall 6-9 junior forward Elijah Pittman carries a 16.3 scoring average and Kane puts in 14.9. Junior wing guard D.D. Scarver and 6-8 senior forward Dennis Tinnon are also in double figures with 12.2 and 10.3 averages respectively.
Tinnon gets 9.1 rebounds a game and Spikes, a 6-10 senior, adds 7.2.
Both teams produce an average of 69.2 points, but Tulane is giving up just 64.6 while Marshall allows 72.9.