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Marshall men back on court

Dec. 30, 2013 @ 12:19 AM

HUNTINGTON -- A scheduling quirk has the Marshall Thundering Herd, South Carolina and Akron men's basketball teams playing a round-robin of sorts in a period of nine days.

Marshall (5-7) visits South Carolina (5-6) at 7 p.m. Monday for its second game this season against a Southeastern Conference foe. Marshall dropped a 69-67 contest Dec. 5 at Vanderbilt. The Herd plays Thursday at Akron (6-5).

Monday's game is televised on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast, with is Ch. 49 on Huntington cable.

South Carolina hosted Akron on Saturday and won, 78-45, just three days after a Christmas Day defeat of the Zips, 69-59, at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

Marshall had a short Christmas break after a Dec. 21 loss to Arkansas State in Cam Henderson Center, 83-82. Some players stayed in town and everyone returned Thursday for practice.

"We needed some time to recharge and regroup," said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. "We came back with good energy and good focus.

"We need to figure out ways to not beat ourselves."

Marshall's seven losses include the West Virginia game it led for 35 of the 40 minutes and overtime decisions to Morehead State and Stephen F. Austin. Sizable deficits and comebacks that fell short marked games against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and ETSU.

The game at Penn State was just a bad defeat.

Three non-conference games remain before Marshall enters Conference USA play.

"We've got to believe," Marshall guard Kareem Canty said. "We have heart. We know we can win. We could easy be 12-0, but we're 5-7. We have to keep learning. Watch film. Listen to coach.

"Hopefully, we'll be OK by conference time."

Marshall has two freshman -- Canty and forward Ryan Taylor -- along with first-year NCAA Division I players Chris Thomas, Shawn Smith, TyQuane Goard and Cheikh Sane getting significant playing time.

Sane, a starting forward, missed the last two contests because of a foot injury and is probably doubtful to play against South Carolina, Herrion said. Sophomore guard Tamron Manning limped off the court during the Arkansas State game and is also doubtful.

Herrion said the next player in line has to be ready.

"We have more than enough," Herrion said. "Every day, every practice and every game they become less and less of an inexperienced team. You gain experience every game and every practice.

"That is not an excuse that will be tolerated in my program."

Marshall averages 85.8 points per game led by Canty (17.8), Taylor (12.5), Thomas (12.3), Smith (8.1) and Goard (7.3). Taylor collects 7.0 rebounds a game.

The Herd is shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 35.5 percent on 3-point attempts and 60.6 percent at the foul line.

Defensively, the Herd is giving up 77.6 points on average.

"We need to get better -- more consistent, get quality stops at the right times," Herrion said.

South Carolina has won consecutive games -- both against Akron -- and three of its last four after a 2-5 start to the season. The Gamecocks have also beaten Longwood and FIU while losing to Baylor, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Manhattan, USC Upstate and Boise State.

Freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell tops a balanced offense with 11.7 points a game. Junior guard Tyrone Johnson and senior guard Brenton Williams score 10.6 and 9.8 respectively for the SEC club averaging 68.5 points. Eight players score at least five a game.

Sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas gets 5.6 rebounds.

The Gamecocks rotate their big players inside, Herrion said, Kacinas is 6-foot-7, Demetrius Henry is 6-8 and Laimonas Chatkevicius is 6-11.

"We need to play bigger than our size and give our big guys some help," Herrion said.

Gamecocks' head coach Frank Martin has a 19-24 record in his second season following five seasons at Kansas State where he guided the Wildcats to four NCAA tournament appearances.

Martin's squad has seven freshmen and five sophomores.

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