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MU prepares to host Rice

MU hoops
Feb. 11, 2013 @ 06:39 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Conference USA men's basketball teams without a single road win between them meet Wednesday in Cam Henderson Center.

Fortunately for Marshall University, the Thundering Herd is at home for this one.

Last-place Rice comes to town 5-18 for the season, 1-8 in the 12-team conference and winless in seven road games. Marshall (10-14) slumped into an eighth-place tie at 3-6 in C-USA with another road loss Saturday at UAB, its ninth in a row.

They are the only C-USA teams without any road wins.

Marshall also plays at home Saturday against first-place Memphis and the Herd is 9-3 for games in Cam Henderson Center.

Rice is the lowest scoring team in the conference and it showed Saturday against SMU, the 11th-place team.

SMU won at Rice, 61-39, when the Owls made only 10 shots in a season-low 19.6 percent field goal performance (10 of 51).

"It was a tough day from the perimeter, and even when we got to the rim we had a tough time getting shots to fall," said Rice head coach Ben Braun.

Tamir Jackson's performance was a highlight for the Owls as the senior guard's 11 points included the 1,500th of his career.

Marshall was decent making shots Saturday, but didn't stop UAB at the 3-point line and the Blazers logged a 75-61 victory in Bartow Arena. UAB fired in nine 3-pointers, including three each by Jordan Swing (13 points) and Robert Williams (12 points) and two by Preston Purifoy (15 points).

Rod Rucker's 18 points without a 3-pointer and 10 rebounds led the Blazers.

Dre Kane and Elijah Pittman topped Marshall's scoring with 23 and 15 respectively. The rest of the Herd scored 23.

"Right now we are not getting enough consistent play out of guys," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said. "One game it's one guy and one game it's another guy.

"We just aren't getting enough consistency."

UAB took a 4-2 lead on Purifoy's 3-pointer in the opening two minutes and stayed ahead for the remainder of the game. The Blazers led 38-25 at halftime after Marshall forward Dennis Tinnon connected on a 3-pointer with one second to go.

Kane attempted to get Marshall back in it after halftime with 18 of his points, but the gap didn't get closer than 10. The Herd's pressure contributed to UAB committing 14 of its 20 turnovers after halftime.

Pittman's one-man run of nine points -- two foul shots, two dunks, one 3-pointer -- reduced the deficit from 20 points to 72-61 with 2:59 to go. Swing ended the comeback with a 3-pointer that set the score with 2:28 left in the game.

"We are still not making enough plays defensively to change the game and put us in a better position to win," Herrion said.

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