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Thomas, Herd put focus on foul line

Dec. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Chris Thomas spends a lot of time working on his free throw shooting.

Thomas said he even goes to the gym on his own sometimes to practice foul shots. How many practice foul shots does the Marshall Thundering Herd men's basketball player put up in one week?

"A lot," he said.

Despite that, something goes wrong when the scoreboard lights up. The sophomore guard is making just 57.1 percent this season for a Marshall team ranked near the bottom of NCAA Division I (338th of 345 teams) in free throw accuracy at 58.4 percent.

"I just need to focus more," Thomas said. "Get a little bit more bend in my knees."

Marshall (4-6) made just 10 of 24 foul shots Saturday against West Virginia, which made 20 of 28 in the Capital Classic, and downed the Herd, 74-64.

In all six Marshall losses the Herd made less foul shots than the opponent.

Marshall has its next opportunity to make more foul shots and stop a four-game losing streak -- all away from home -- at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Alice Lloyd College (6-5) in Cam Henderson Center.

"We will get better at free throws, and get better as a team," Thomas said.

Head coach Tom Herrion said playing two teams from the NAIA ranks this season -- Marshall ripped Rio Grande, 119-77, on Nov. 12 -- is an attempt to have a balanced schedule home and away. Not many teams have played exactly half their games split home and away, he said.

Herrion said he also has to consider next season when the 16-game Conference USA schedule increases to 18 and Marshall already has non-conference games lined up with Penn State, South Carolina, West Virginia, Nevada, Akron, Morehead State and Arkansas State.

To keep the balance, Marshall had no room to add another NCAA Division I home-and-home arrangement beginning this season, he said.

Semester break is underway and Marshall has a lot of practice time and seven games before classes resume Jan. 13.

"We've got to maximize this stretch," Herrion said.

Marshall point guard Kareem Canty was named as the C-USA Freshman of the Week for the third consecutive week Monday after producing 16 points, nine assists and three steals in the West Virginia game. Canty is eighth in conference scoring at 18.1 per game while ranking first in C-USA and eighth in the nation with 6.9 assists.

Thomas is second on the Herd scoring list with an 11.4 average and freshman forward Ryan Taylor is scoring 10.9 a game. Taylor leads the squad with 6.9 rebounds a game.

Starting forward Cheikh Sane's playing status will be determined at game time because of a right foot injury, Herrion said. Sane turned in his best performance of the season Saturday with seven points and seven rebounds.

Canty's drive for a layup put Marshall up on West Virginia, 62-58, with 4:57 remaining in a game the Herd led for 35 of the 40 minutes, but the Mountaineers pulled away late.

"We'll bounce back," Canty said. "I'll promise you that."

Alice Lloyd (6-5) is an NAIA Division II member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Eagles lost Sunday at nationally-ranked Pikeville, 107-70.

Tyler Rogers, a 6-foot-8 sophomore from Lexington, Ky., tops Alice Lloyd players with averages of 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds. Sophomore guard Kuron Mitchell from Beckley averages 14.2 points and 6-6 sophomore Cody Malicoat adds 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds.

"They have some big offensive numbers," Herrion said of the Eagles who average 81 points. "They spread it around pretty good. Their leading scorer (Rogers) is a 6-8 kid who gives them a presence in the post."

Stuart Stamper, a senior guard who scored 20 against Pikeville, averages 5.6 a game.

Marshall men's basketball

Alice Lloyd (6-5)

at Marshall (4-6)

7 p.m., Tuesday

Cam Henderson Center

Tickets: $10

Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, WRVC 930-AM and 94.1-FM, WMUL 88.1-FM

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