Herd hosts FIU before FAU
HUNTINGTON -- It wasn't all bad last weekend for the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Conference USA men's basketball co-leader Louisiana Tech throttled Marshall, 98-77, in Ruston, La., but after an early outbreak of mistakes created a 15-point deficit, Marshall played well enough to avoid getting totally blown out.
"We still saw some positives," Herd point guard Kareem Canty said.
Marshall, 7-14 overall and 1-5 in the conference, shot 50.9 percent from the field (58.3 first half), 73.9 percent (17 of 23) at the foul line and won the rebound battle by six.
Committing 17 turnovers in the first half and 22 overall were detrimental.
"Turnovers killed us," said Canty, who contributed five.
The loss at LA Tech followed Marshall recording its first conference win at Rice two days earlier.
Head coach Tom Herrion said Wednesday he's convinced Marshall is playing better basketball than earlier and has to keep believing in itself with a set of Thursday-Saturday home games against FIU and Florida Atlantic respectively next on the schedule.
FIU hits Cam Henderson Center for a 7 p.m. Thursday contest with an 11-9 season record and is 3-2 in C-USA.
"Getting one (victory) on the road was critical," Herrion said. "Now we have to protect our home court. We should be losing very few, if any, games in this building.
"Our message coming off the trip was protect our house."
Marshall's record at home this season is 6-4. The Herd is just 1-10 away from home.
Canty said the Herd was feeling good about itself after defeating Rice and players weren't focused like they should have been for LA Tech.
The freshman came off the bench for the first time in the Rice game for 18 points and seven assists. He was back in the starting lineup Saturday and 16 points with three assists.
"It felt funny (not starting), but I'll do whatever helps my team," he said.
Canty's case for C-USA Freshman of the Year honors is built on a 16.7 scoring average and 6.4 assists per game. Also in the competition for individual recognition is Marshall forward Ryan Taylor, a 6-foot-5 freshman posting 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds a game.
The Herd also has sophomore guard Chris Thomas averaging 11.2 points.
Forward Shawn Smith, a 6-6 junior who started the last three games, is getting 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds. Starting forward TyQuane Goard is a 6-7 sophomore producing 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds.
FIU won its last two games at home against East Carolina (68-64) and Florida Atlantic (66-57). The Panthers also have a conference win at Rice, a 31-point defeat at Louisiana Tech and a loss to Old Dominion.
The Panthers have three players scoring in double figures, led by 6-foot-5 senior forward Tymell Murphy and 6-7 senior forward Rakeem Buckles.
Murphy averages 16.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. He's shooting 60.1 percent from the field.
"I think he's one of the best players in our conference," Herrion said. "He scores inside. He scores outside. He scores in transition. High motor."
Buckles played against Marshall in the 2010-11 season when he was with the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville beat Marshall, 80-66, with Buckles contributing 12 points and seven rebounds. He sat out last season at FIU as a transfer and attempted to join Pitino at Minnesota, but an NCAA appeal for a waiver to play immediately was denied. He averages 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds a game.
Junior guard Dennis Mavin and 6-6 sophomore Jerome Frink add 11.1 and 8.9 points respectively.
Raymond Taylor, a 5-6, 145-pound senior averaging 12.2 points didn't appear in the last 13 games because of an eligibility issue.
FIU brought Anthony Evans in as its head coach in April when Richard Pitino left to coach the Minnesota Gophers. Evans was at Norfolk State for six seasons. His 99-94 record with the Spartans included 20-win seasons in 2-12-13 and 2011-12.
Richard Pitino's only season with the Panthers produced an 18-14 record while playing in the Sun Belt Conference.
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