Run vs. Tulsa awakens Herd
HUNTINGTON -- A 19-0 scoring run was good for what ailed the Marshall University men's basketball team.
In a first-half span of 7:30 on the game clock the Thundering Herd broke out of a scoring slump and had an 18-point lead that led to a 79-61 victory Wednesday night against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Cam Henderson Center. Marshall (8-8 overall) is 1-0 and in a logjam of teams atop the Conference USA standings.
Elijah Pittman backed his defender in for a basket. Nigel Spikes dunked. Rob Goff collected a missed free throw by Dennis Tinnon and dunked. Pittman swished a 3-point shot. Dre Kane scored on a drive. D.D. Scarver made a 3-pointer, then another, then two free throws.
Marshall bounced back after a three-game losing streak that included a 37-point bashing last weekend at Ohio University.
"(It was) us being focused, starting on Monday when we came to practice," Marshall guard Dre Kane said. "I think we had a great two days of practice. Coach (Tom Herrion) gave us a great game plan and we executed it. We just came out with energy."
Marshall built a double-figure lead during its run, the first time it led by more than two since a Dec. 19 win over Savannah State. The Herd's 45.0 field goal percentage was its best in 10 games and the 65.0 percent free throw shooting was the second best of the season.
The fun continued when Kane stole the basketball from Tulsa guard Pat Swilling Jr. in the backcourt. Teammates were settling in to play defense, so Kane held the ball until D.D. Scarver came sprinting back. Kane fed Scarver for a dunk that resulted in a three-point play.
Pittman followed with an off-balance throw from right side of the court that banked in for a 3-pointer and he also made a foul shot.
Marshall was ahead, 43-20, at halftime and stretched the gap to 29 in the second period.
Kane said the newfound offensive efficiency was a result of some "don't think, just shoot" philosophy.
"Guys were worrying about the wrong things," he said. "Guys worrying about scoring, about playing time. Today we played together as one.
"I think if we do that we have a good chance at winning the next 15 games."
Pittman's 19 points led Marshall while Kane and Scarver both had 16.
It was Kane's second game back from an injury to his right (shooting) hand after the junior missed four contests. He was shooting only 35.4 percent for the season (15.6 percent on 3-point attempts) and made six of nine from the field while going 4-for-6 from the three-point line.
"My hand's fine," said Kane, who played for 29 minutes. "It was just me shooting in rhythm. I didn't take any bad shots. I was taking shots the defense gave me, and it's about time I knocked some down."
Kane also had seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and three turnovers when he went to the bench with 10:23 left in the game and the Herd ahead, 62-36.
Tulsa (9-7, 1-2) is playing without three injured 6-foot-7 players, leaving 6-10 head coach Danny Manning as the tallest member of the Golden Hurricane. The tallest player in the starting five was 6-7 Kauri Black, who fouled out with four points, five rebounds and 6:26 left to play.
The 6-8 Tinnon assaulted the boards for 11 rebounds, leading the taller Herd to a plus-15 advantage.
Defensively, the Herd put the clamps on Tulsa's 3-point shooters and limited the Golden Hurricane to just 36.5 percent shooting.
"Tonight was a small step in the right direction," Herrion said. "We've got a long way to go clearly, but it was a good step."
Marshall's next game is 9 p.m., Saturday, at UTEP (7-6, 1-0) in the Don Haskins Center. UTEP won Wednesday at Tulane (12-4, 0-1), 66-57.
The Herd practiced Thursday morning in Cam Henderson Center before flying to El Paso.