Marshall (17-11) at East Carolina (12-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday February 29th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Minges Coliseum (8,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: WITN-TV. Home Record: MU 12-4, ECU 9-7. Away Record: MU 5-6, ECU 2-8. Neutral Record: MU 0-1, ECU 1-0. Conference Record: MU 8-6, ECU 3-11. Series Record: Marshall leads, 12-5.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will attempt to sweep a Conference USA rival as it heads to Minges Coliseum to take on the East Carolina Pirates.
The Thundering Herd defeated ECU, 78-68, at the Cam Henderson Center on Feb. 11th earlier this month to make it two in a row over the Pirates. Marshall has won seven of the past eight meetings in the series.
Marshall had its fan base hopeful that it would return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987 this season after its promising start to the season. Coach Tom Herrion led the team to a 4-0 start in conference play before it collapsed and lost six of its next seven outings. The Thundering Herd seemed to have rebounded as they won their next three, but then they were completely demolished at home in their 87-67 loss to Memphis on Saturday. With two games remaining, Marshall is 17-11 overall and tied for fifth place in the C-USA standings with UAB, as they both own an 8-6 C-USA record. A win tonight would tie the Thundering Herd for fourth place with UCF. Marshall is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, as their +7.4 average rebounding margin is ninth in the NCAA.
DeAndre Kane has been the leader of the Thundering Herd this season as he ranks fourth in the C-USA in scoring with an average of 15.7 ppg. Kane had 16 points in the loss to Memphis, but he went 5-of-19 from the floor and was ejected due to a pair of technical fouls after he lost his composure. Dennis Tinnon is a monster inside for Marshall. The junior forward has recorded nine double-doubles this season and is third in the league with 9.8 rebounds per contest. Damier Pitts is one of the top point guards in the C-USA and Shaquille Johnson is providing scoring depth.
ECU lost its fifth game in a row on Saturday as it suffered a 61-57 setback to UAB in Greenville. The Pirates are tied for the league's worst conference record, as they are 3-11 against C-USA rivals. Head coach Jeff Lebo has had trouble guiding his team to offensive success as of late, as it has been held under 60 points in four of its last five games. The Pirates struggled against Marshall in the first matchup, as they committed 12 turnovers in the bout while the Thundering Herd had just five. Unless an unlikely run occurs in which ECU can improve its 12-15 record, the Pirates will suffer their 10th losing season in 11 years.
The Pirates will honor their lone senior Darrius Morrow in his final home game tonight. Morrow has had a respectable senior campaign as he is second on the team in scoring (13.2) and tied for first in rebounding with 6.1 boards per contest. ECU has one more year of Miguel Paul, who has been the floor general for the program this season. In Paul's first season since transferring from Missouri, he lead the team in scoring with 15.8 ppg and the conference in distributing with 5.8 assists per game. Maurice Kemp and Shamarr Bowden get into the mix as well, but the Pirates have not had enough firepower to be successful.
Judging by Pitts and Kane's combined three technicals in their loss to Memphis over the weekend, Marshall believed it should have won that game. The Thundering Herd are clearly not going to throw in the towel on their NCAA Tournament hopes. With fourth-place and a first-round bye in the C-USA tourney still possible, the Thundering Herd will leave it all on the court against the struggling Pirates.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 74, East Carolina 63
02/29 10:40:01 ET