Herrion says Herd still has time
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall's Thundering Herd has nobody to blame but itself for its predicament.
A season of unsteady play leaves Marshall mired in a seventh-place tie with Houston and Tulane halfway through the Conference USA men's basketball schedule. The race is on for top-five finishes and the reward of first-round byes in the conference tournament.
"We've got to keep hammering away," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said Friday after practice in Birmingham, Ala.
Marshall (10-13 overall, 3-5 conference) has a 3 p.m., Saturday, meeting with 10th-place UAB (10-13, 2-6) in Bartow Arena.
The Herd comes off a Wednesday defeat at Tulane, 91-75, when the Green Wave scored 59 in the first half against what Herrion described as deplorable defense. Marshall showed its erratic side by holding Tulane (15-8, 3-5) to 32 points after halftime.
"Now with eight (games) to go we've got to make a move and play our best basketball down the stretch," Herrion said. "Starting with UAB we have to start playing basketball more consistently.
"We still have time to get things straightened up."
Marshall is 0-8 on the road and six of the games were double-figure margins. Clearly, Marshall is backed against a wall. But after UAB the Herd has three of its next four games at home.
Six-foot-nine junior forward Elijah Pittman, coming off a season-best game with 23 points at Tulane, leads Marshall and is ninth in C-USA scoring with a 15.1 average. All-conference junior point guard Dre Kane is 11th at 14.4. Junior wing shooter D.D. Scarver (13.6) and 6-8 senior forward Dennis Tinnon (10.5) join them in double figures
Kane leads C-USA and is ranked sixth in the nation with 7.42 assists a game, is fifth in C-USA steals with a 1.74 average and is second in conference assist-turnover ratio at 1.88.
Kane also is second in average minutes played for C-USA (36.53).
He joins Chaz Williams of UMass as the only NCAA Division I players averaging at least 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists.
Scarver is the only C-USA player and one of only 10 in the nation with at least one 3-point field goal in every game this season. The 6-foot-4 guard is from Birmingham (Jackson-Olin High School) and anticipates having about 100 family members and friends at the game, including his mother, Donna Scarver.
Tinnon's 9.1 rebounds per game ranks fifth in the conference and 6-10 senior center Nigel Spikes is ninth with 7.5.
Jerod Haase, 38, is the first-year UAB head coach following 13 years working on the staffs of Roy Williams at Kansas University and the University of North Carolina, the last nine at UNC.
Haase played at the University of California and Kansas. He co-wrote a book "Floor Burns" about the 1996-97 Kansas season. The UK stat crew began keeping track of floor burns in honor of Haase, who had 165 of them as a junior.
UAB won Wednesday at Tulsa, 70-63.
The Blazers have junior forwards Rod Rucker and Jordan Swing averaging 13.8 points. The 6-6 Swing is a 37.1 percent 3-point shooter. Senior guard T.J. Jones adds 10.2 points a game.
Rucker, a 6-5 junior college transfer, averages 8.1 rebounds and junior guard Robert Williams (9.0 points) averages 5.8 rebounds.
"Rucker is giving them great production," Herrion said. "Swing is an all-conference kid coming off the bench for them now."
The Blazers rank second in C-USA for free throw shooting at 73.5 percent. Preston Purifoy is the league's best at 92.5 percent on 49 of 53. Swing makes 81.8 percent (63 of 77).
Game notes: Kane has 1,346 career points and needs 15 to pass Tyrone Phillips (1989-93) for 20th place in the Marshall record book. ... Spikes has 102 career blocked shots and is tied with Phillips for eight place all-time at Marshall. ... Pittman has 26 dunks. ... The Blazers are 8-3 at home with average attendance of 4,032 in their 8,500-seat arena. ... UAB is putting up 61 shots per game, most in the conference. ... UAB's last five games were decided by seven points or less and they are 2-3.