Marshall (20-12) vs. Southern Miss (25-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 9, 4:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FedEx Forum (18,119) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Marshall 13-3, Southern Miss 15-0. Away Record: Marshall 5-7, Southern Miss 7-6. Neutral Record: Marshall 2-2, Southern Miss 2-1. Conference Record: Marshall 9-7, Southern Miss 11-5. Series Record: Marshall leads 7-6.
GAMES NOTES: The sixth-seeded Marshall Thundering Herd and second-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles will match up in a semifinal showdown in the Conference USA Tournament at FedEx Forum.
Marshall comes into this game fresh off of a triple-overtime thriller in the quarterfinals in which the Thundering Herd prevailed 105-100 over third-seed Tulsa. The win was the second in two days for Marshall which had lost two of its final three games to close out the regular season.
The lone win in the final three regular season games for Marshall came against this same Southern Miss squad, as the Thundering Herd finished up with a 79-75 win on its home floor last Saturday. The win avenged a 67-63 loss earlier in the season and broke a tie in the all-time series which Marshall now leads 7-6.
Southern Miss didn't have to go to three extra periods, but the Golden Eagles needed one to down 10th-seed East Carolina in their quarterfinal matchup. Southern Miss survived what would have been a stunning upset and came away with the 81-78 victory after having a bye in the first round. The Golden Eagles didn't really fly into the postseason, suffering losses in three of their final five games, but still ended with an impressive 24-7 overall record including an 11-5 tally in league play.
Marshall again and again came back from the dead in its quarterfinal win. The Thundering Herd trailed with 3:25 remaining in regulation but then held Tulsa without a field goal the rest of the way and scored six straight points to send the game to the first extra session. Tulsa again had the advantage towards the end of the first overtime but The Thundering Herd scored three points from the foul line in the final minute to tie the game 74-74. The Golden Hurricane finally looked like it would seal the game but Tim Peete missed a free throw with the team up by just two, and Marshall's DeAndre Kane got an outlet pass and drove into the lane and dropped in a bucket to tie the game again 84-84. In the third and final overtime it was the four point play from Dago Pena that putt Marshall ahead for good 95-94. They were the only four points Pena scored in the game.
In a game that finished 105-100 the stat sheet was understandably full. Kane scored a Conference USA Tournament record, and career high, 40 points in the game while Shaquille Johnson also had a career night scoring 25 points before fouling out, one of three members of the Thundering Herd to do so. Kane (16.7 ppg) was the fourth best scorer in the conference this season, while Johnson (9.1 ppg) was not nearly as prolific. Damier Pitts (14.3 ppg) is the second option, but was held to only 11 points due to foul trouble. Junior forward Dennis Tinnon (10.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg) is a double-double threat and did so again, scoring 14 points and bringing in 12 rebounds in the win. Another 100-point effort isn't something Marshall will expect after it averaged a modest 70.8 points per game this season.
Southern Miss led with just 16 seconds left on the clock but East Carolina's Robert Sampson hit a three-pointer to tie the game 68-68. After the Golden Eagles failed to knock down a potential game winner, the matchup went into an extra time. There were five lead chances in the first four minutes of overtime but Southern Miss' Darnell Dodson nailed a three pointer with just under a minute left and the Golden Eagles escaped with the win.
Six players scored in double figures for Southern Miss in its quarterfinal matchup which is understandable for a team that relied on balance so much this season. Five members of the team ended the season with double-digit scoring averages led by Dodson (18.5 ppg) who played in only 22 games this season after transferring from Kentucky last season. Dodson ended the game with 13 points which allowed Neil Watson (12.3 ppg, 4.6 apg) to finish the game as the Golden Eagles leading scorer as h finished with 17 points while also building on a strong season passing the ball with six assists. Jonathan Mills (10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) scored 13 points and brought down eight rebounds, split evenly on the defensive and offensive glass, after leading the team on the boards this season. Maurice Bolden (10.0 ppg) and Angelo Johnson (9.0 ppg) each added in 11 points while LaShay Page (11.7 ppg) had only 10. Southern Miss (71.9 ppg) is right around Marshall's scoring but is superior on defense (64.7 ppg).
As the teams in the conference tournament continue to shrink the competition just keeps growing. Southern Miss will have a tough time with Marshall, which showed it can already beat the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss will need somebody to step up to down the Thundering Herd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 78, Marshall 75
03/09 10:32:18 ET