Houston (12-13) at Marshall (16-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 22nd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cam Henderson Center (9,043) -- Huntington, West Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: Houston 11-5, Marshall 11-3. Away Record: Houston 1-7, Marshall 4-6. Neutral Record: Houston 0-1, Marshall 0-1. Conference Record: Houston 4-8, Marshall 6-5. Series Record: Houston leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd try for their third straight win this evening when they welcome the Houston Cougars to the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington for a Conference USA clash.
Houston has had a sub par season overall at 12-13 and it has fared even worse in conference play, losing twice as many games as it has won (4-8). It has been especially terrible on the road, winning just one of eight bouts away from Houston. The Cougars are coming off their best win of the season however, snapping a four-game losing streak by upsetting first-place Southern Miss on Saturday, 73-71.
Marshall has been up and down this season. First it looked like one of C-USA's best teams early on, going 13-4 out of the gate. The Herd then stumbled big time, losing six of their next seven, but they have rebounded nicely by winning two straight, including a 73-68 decision over SMU on Saturday. They are now just two games out of first place with a 7-5 record.
Houston leads the all-time series, 5-3, but Marshall won both meetings last season, including in the first round of the 2011 C-USA Tournament, 97-87.
Houston got out to a double-digit lead in the first half of Saturday's game against Southern Miss, and even though the Golden Eagles came soaring back in the second half, the Cougars fought them off in the final minute for the surprising two-point victory. They shot 45.5 percent from the field in the game and 19-of-22 from the free-throw line, which really helped down the stretch. Jonathon Simmons continued with his stellar season in the victory, scoring a career-high 28 points and he now ranks seventh in C-USA in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Houston has the second-most potent offense in the conference, scoring 72.5 ppg on 46.3 percent shooting. Alongside Simmons, the Cougars get consistent contributions from Alandise Harris (13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Joseph Young (10.7 ppg) and TaShawn Thomas (10.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg). Though its offense can keep pace with anyone, UH has far and away the worst defense in the conference, allowing 73.1 ppg.
Led by a 20-point, five-assist performance from Damier Pitts, Marshall went into Dallas on Saturday and defeated SMU for its second straight win. The Herd shot 47.9 percent from the field in the game and also got double-digit scoring efforts from DeAndre Kane (14 points), Nigel Spikes (career-high 13), and Dennis Tinnon (12). On the season, Kane (15.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Pitts (14.3 ppg, 4.6 apg) have been one of the best guard tandems in the conference, ranking fifth and 11th in C-USA in scoring, respectively. Both also rank in the top-10 in assists. Tinnon averages just shy of a double-double with 9.2 ppg and 9.8 rpg, the latter ranking third in the conference. Though Marshall gives up just 65.7 ppg, it ranks last in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.448).
Houston hopes to catch lightning in a bottle again after its impressive win on Saturday, but taking on a hot Marshall squad on its home floor doesn't bode well for the Cougars.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 76, Houston 68
02/22 10:34:35 ET