Outgoing players want a win
HUNTINGTON -- Three senior players on the Marshall University men's basketball team want to make a statement in their final home game.
Not only to themselves, the fans and family members joining them for Senior Night, but to show the world the Thundering Herd isn't as bad as its losing record indicates.
"We're definitely going to come out playing like that, especially our three seniors," said senior Rob Goff before Monday's practice. "We have to come out and bring it."
Goff, Nigel Spikes and Dennis Tinnon make their final Cam Henderson Center appearance at 7 p.m., Tuesday, when Southern Miss (22-7, 11-3 Conference USA) visits Marshall (12-17, 5-9). CBS Sports Network has the telecast on Huntington Comcast Ch. 174.
Marshall also wants to prove it can be competitive with Southern Miss, which manhandled the Herd, 102-46, on Jan. 23 in Hattiesburg, Miss. -- the most one-sided league game in C-USA history.
Southern Miss pulled away 47-7 and led 53-17 at halftime. Marshall turned the ball over 31 times.
"Awful is not even a word. ..." Tinnon said. "They stomped on us. I know people who were watching said Marshall is terrible."
Marshall took another lop-sided defeat Saturday at Houston, 103-76, and is tied with the Cougars for ninth place in C-USA with two games left in the regular season. Marshall wraps up Saturday at East Carolina. Fourth-place UCF is not eligible for the conference tournament because of NCAA sanctions, so an 11-team event will be played March 13-16 in Tulsa, Okla.
Southern Miss clinched the No. 2 seed for the C-USA tournament. If they don't win the tournament, the Golden Eagles are considered one of the teams on the bubble for an at-large NCAA tournament berth.
"We've got to match their intensity," Tinnon said. "If we don't match the intensity they might beat us by 30 or maybe 60."
Herrion said the margin of defeat speaks for itself in the first meeting with Southern Miss, and Marshall has to play at a much higher level.
Southern Miss is fourth in C-USA scoring with 73.5 per game and second in scoring defense at 61.1.
The Golden Eagles lead the conference statistics for shooting percentages on field goals (48.0) and 3-pointers (38.7), rebound margin (plus-6.9), steals (10.6) and turnover margin (plus-2.7).
Dwayne Davis, a 6-foot-5 guard, leads the team in scoring (14.5) and 6-foot guard Jerrold Brooks is next (10.6). Neil Watson, a 5-11 junior averaging 9.7 points, scored 27 in a Saturday win over East Carolina (88-69) on perfect shooting of 7-for-7 on 3-pointers and 5-for-5 on free throws.
Jonathan Mills is a 6-6 forward averaging 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. Mills had 15 points and 17 rebounds on Saturday.
Six-foot-seven forward Daveon Boardingham is good for 7.9 points and four rebounds a game.
"They're just really good," Herrion said. "They pass the ball as a team. They shoot it well. They have a lot of weapons."
Marshall also has weapons, but getting them firing at the same time has been a problem throughout an inconsistent season.
Elijah Pittman, Dre Kane and D.D. Scarver -- all juniors -- average 15.9, 14.9 and 12.2 points respectively. Tinnon is scoring 10.6 points and getting 9.3 rebounds a game while Spikes has averages of 5.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. Goff, who started the last three games, contributes 3.9 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Spikes is the Marshall old-timer with four seasons on the court as a center after sitting out his first year (2008-09) for academic reasons.Goff and Tinnon joined the program as junior college transfers and played for two seasons. All three players are on track for May graduation, they said.
The 6-10 Spikes, a Florida native who is sixth in Herd history with 115 blocked shots, recalled the Feb. 2 game against UCF when he rejected nine shots as probably the best of his career.
"We're going to make this a good one too," he said. "We can't go out on a bad note."
Goff, a 6-9 forward from Indianapolis, said Senior Night will be filled with emotion and he'll try not to cry.
He left high school not knowing what the future held, Goff said. Two years of junior college in Kansas put him on the right track.
"It means a lot to me," he said. "Coming out of Indiana I never thought I'd get to play in college."
Goff said his best Marshall memory was playing last season against No. 3 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. He considers his best game to be a double-double performance last season at Belmont.
Tinnon will leave with so many memories that he had trouble picking any out.
The 6-8 forward from Green Bay, Wisc., is a candidate for repeat All-CUSA honors. He was an all-conference second team selection last season while also making the All-Defensive Team.
He ranks 37th in the nation in rebounds with a 9.3 average and is sixth among active NCAA Division I players with a 9.7 career mark.
"It really goes by fast," Tinnon said.
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