Herd getting stops, but not scoring
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University played good enough defense to win Wednesday's game when the Thundering Herd men's basketball team limited Delaware State to 53 points.
But, Marshall only scored 51 and lost.
Marshall slumped to a 7-7 record with a non-conference road game Saturday against the Ohio Bobcats (8-5) before getting into its Conference USA slate Wednesday when Tulsa comes to Cam Henderson Center. Tulsa (8-6) opens its conference schedule Sunday at SMU.
Head coach Tom Herrion was at a loss for words to explain the performance, but came up with a few such as "befuddled" and "inept."
"We're offensively challenged right now," Herrion said before Thursday's practice. "Unfortunately, it's putting so much pressure on our defense. You can't get every (defensive) stop. We're turning the ball over too much. We're not getting any of what we call easy points
"Our defense has gotten progressively better. It doesn't show because our offensive is so inefficient."
Delaware State (6-8) shot only 38.8 percent in its win, but it was better than Marshall at 36.2 percent. The Hornets also made eight of 11 free throws (72.7 percent) while the Herd went 13-for-23 (56.5 percent).
Marshall's season field goal percentage has dipped to 41.9 percent after a stretch of eight games when the team didn't hit 40 percent six times. In the last eight games Marshall has averaged 60.5 points after opening the season at an 82.5 clip for the first six games.
Shooting free throws has been a season-long problem for a Herd team making just 58.7 percent.
The Herd has played without a true point guard all season since freshman Kareem Canty was denied initial eligibility by the NCAA.
All-CUSA junior Dre Kane handled point guard duties for 10 games, but missed the last four because of a right hand injury. Kane is the Herd's leading scorer (15.0), was ranked third in the latest NCAA report with 8.5 assists per game and has one of the best assist-turnover ratios (2.7) in the conference.
Marshall has turned the basketball over nearly 18 times a game in Kane's absence.
"We've got guys trying to make plays they aren't accustomed to making because at times we do not have a true point guard on the floor," Herrion said on his Thursday radio show.
Kane had the cast removed from his shooting hand and was on the court for Thursday's practice. The Herd also welcomed 7-foot-2 Yous Mbao to practice for the first time since Nov. 20 when he suffered a head injury during a drill.
Herrion said during his radio broadcast that both players were able to practice on a limited basis. They haven't been cleared to play and are still listed as day-to-day.
Marshall and Ohio both enter Saturday's matchup at the Convocation Center with three losses in their last four games. Ohio opened the season 6-0.
The teams separated by about 80 miles and the Ohio River are meeting for the 100th time. Ohio won last season in Huntington, 70-68, to take a 53-46 lead in the all-time series.