Marshall hosting Memphis
HUNTINGTON -- Only one point separated the Marshall Thundering Herd and Memphis Tigers three weeks ago.
First-place Memphis had its closest call in a Conference USA men's basketball game Jan. 26 when the Tigers nipped the Herd, 73-72, in FedExForum Trailing by two with time ticking down inside one minute to go, Marshall missed four shots.
The rematch is Saturday when first-place Memphis, now ranked No. 22 in the nation with a 15-game win streak in its final C-USA season before joining the Big East, comes to Cam Henderson Center at 21-3 overall and 10-0 conference for an 8 p.m. clash.
Marshall, 11-14 for the season, is tied for seventh place at 4-6.
It is a CBS Sports Network telecast on Huntington Comcast Ch. 174.
"There should be a great atmosphere here," Marshall's Dre Kane said Friday. "Eight o'clock, national TV and hopefully we'll be ready to play.
"We're in our house. It should be a little different."
Kane said the close call at Memphis gives the Herd a little more confidence going against the Tigers a second time.
Memphis climbed into the national rankings this week at No. 22 in The Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the ESPN/USA TODAY coaches poll.
Marshall's all-time record against AP Top 25 opponents is 8-52.
"It's not often we get a Top 25 team in our building, and maybe the last time for Memphis in the current conference configuration," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said.
"We're hoping to have a great crowd."
Herrion said the performance at Memphis had to get the Tigers' attention.
Memphis is a dangerous transition team that likes to operate in the open court by generating offense from turnovers and long rebounds.
"We can't turn it over," Kane said. "We have to rebound and play them physical."
The Tigers are led by junior guard Joe Jackson averaging 13.9 points, junior guard Geron Jackson (11.1), 6-foot-7 sophomore Adonis Thomas (10.9), 6-9 junior Tarik Black (9.0), 6-9 freshman Shaq Goodwin (8.4), junior guard Chris Crawford (7.9) and 6-5 senior D.J. Stephens (6.8).
Junior guard Antonio Barton (6.2) is sidelined by a hairline fracture in his right foot.
Stephens tops the Tigers with 6.6 rebounds a game.
"Crawford and Tarik Black coming off the bench speaks to their talent level," Herrion said.
Kane enters the game three points shy of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Hal Greer (1,377) in 19th place on the Herd's career scoring list.
The 6-4 junior guard has averaged 17.5 points in six games against Memphis.
Elijah Pittman, a 6-9 junior, heads a group of four Marshall players averaging double figure points at 15.4. Kane averages 14.3, junior wing guard D.D. Scarver 13.2 and 6-8 senior Dennis Tinnon 10.5.
Kane leads the conference and ranks sixth in the nation for assists with 7.3 a game.
Tinnon and 6-10 senior Nigel Spikes (5.8 points) are strong on the boards with 9.0 and 7.5 rebounds per game respectively. Kane gets 4.3 rebounds on average while Pittman gets 4.0.
"If anybody in this conference can compete with Memphis, it's us with our size and strength," Kane said.
Game notes: Marshall has at least one 3-point basket in 704 consecutive games. ... Marshall's last win against a Top 25 team was Jan. 19, 2011, a 75-71 defeat of No. 21 West Virginia in Charleston. ... Kane has played for the entire 40 minutes in the last four games. ... The 15-game Memphis win streak is second in the nation to the Akron Zips with 16 straight. .... The Tigers have the nation's longest road win streak at 10 games, including 6-0 this season. ... Memphis head coach Josh Pastner grew up in Houston, but was born in Glen Dale, W.Va. ... Dave Ryan and Pete Gillen are the CBS Sports Network announcers.