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Marshall on road Saturday

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 12:52 AM

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- The ETSU Mini-Dome was a house of horrors for past Marshall Thundering Herd teams, so it looks as though the Herd caught a break on this visit.

Look again.

ETSU (2-5) is hosting Marshall (4-2) for a 4 p.m. Saturday men's basketball game in the Freedom Hall Civic Center, a 6,000-capacity facility about two miles from campus. The Buccaneers are playing three Roundball Showcase home games in Freedom Hall, and are 2-0 there with victories against Samford and a Stephen F. Austin team that won in Huntington.

Still, a change of scenery might be good for Marshall.

Marshall and ETSU met 21 times in the Mini-Dome and the Herd had just five wins in the cavernous 9.500-seat multi-purpose building that wasn't built with basketball in mind.

Most of those were Southern Conference games, but the Herd's most recent trips to ETSU were non-conference defeats in 2005 and 2007.

Herd players ate Thanksgiving dinner at head coach Tom Herrion's house Thursday after practice. Friday morning practice was followed by a bus ride to Johnson City. Herrion said the holiday is a family time and the coaching staff is the team's second family.

"Now, we've got to take our act on the road," Herrion said. "Another challenge for our young team."

Conference USA didn't assess any additional penalty on Marshall forward Elijah Pittman, who was ejected early in a Tuesday victory over Western Kentucky (74-64) in Cam Henderson Center for committing a Flagrant Foul 2. Any more punishment will be handled in-house, Herrion said.

With Pittman contributing just three points, other players stepped up in a big non-conference defeat of the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite. Sophomore guard Chris Thomas had 27 points, five rebounds and six steals while freshman point guard Kareem Canty had 15 points and three assists. Sophomore forward TyQuane Goard added eight points and five rebounds and Freshman forward Ryan Taylor scored seven

Pittman, a 6-foot-9 senior, carries a 25.0 scoring average.

"Next man up," Herrion said. "It was an unfortunate situation. There are going to be guys missing for whatever reasons."

Marshall had its best free throw shooting performance of the season against Western Kentucky at 30-for-39 and is up to 62.1 percent for the season. Marshall is scoring 90.2 points per game to rank 14th in the nation and allowing 78.3.

Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard, a 6-6 senior forward, leads an ETSU team averaging 70.3 points with a 14.4 average. Rashawn Rembert (6-3 junior guard) and A.J. Merriweather (6-2 freshman guard) are also in double figures with 13.7 and 10.3 averages respectively.

Balance comes from Jalen Riley (6-foot junior guard) averaging 9.0 points; Hunter Harris (6-7 senior forward), 8.7; and Lester Wilson (6-4 sophomore forward), 8.0.

Merriweather also averages 7.1 rebounds, but the Bucs are minus-6.3 as a team on the boards.

Herrion said the Bucs are really good in one-on matchups driving the basketball and have several players that can score.

Defensively, he anticipates seeing a lot of zone.

ETSU has lost to Charlotte, Morehead State, Western Kentucky, Winthrop and Tennessee Tech while beating Samford and Stephen F. Austin.

The Bucs lost Wednesday at Tennessee Tech, 98-83. Gadsden-Gilliard scored 20.

Marshall and ETSU are former Southern Conference rivals. Marshall played in the SC from 1976-77 to 1996-97 before joining the Mid-American Conference and C-USA. ETSU was in the SC from 1978-79 to 2004-05 before moving to the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The Bucs are returning to the SC in July 2014.

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