Marshall basketball: Road woes won't go away
Different town, same disappointing result.
Marshall stumbled to another road loss Wednesday night, this time a 91-75 setback to Tulane in New Orleans. The Herd (10-13, 3-5 Conference USA) is now 0-8 in true road games this season and has lost six of those games by double digits.
"I sound like a broken record," Coach Tom Herrion said Thursday. "I wish I was smart enough to create a magic potion or wave a magic wand. We have struggles. We've struggled in certain areas and inconsistency has been one of our biggest detriments. We have to figure out a way."
The Herd will try to right the ship again at 3 p.m. Saturday, when it visits UAB (10-13, 2-6).
Marshall had hoped to build off a solid home win against a heated rival, Central Florida, last Saturday. Yet the doldrums that plagued the Herd on the road for most of the year reared their ugly heads again versus Tulane. Marshall allowed the Green Wave to shoot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, as Tulane entered halftime with a 24-point lead, its largest of the game.
It got a little better for the Herd in the second half, as it held Tulane to 12-of-28 shooting while Marshall shot 15 for 30 after halftime, but it was not nearly enough. Tulane beat Marshall on the boards 42-38 and forced the Herd into 16 turnovers. Meanwhile, Marshall struggled from the 3-point line, yet kept shooting. The Herd shot 28 of its 58 attempts from 3-point range, making just seven.
Herrion said he liked how the team approached the second half, but it needs to begin the game the same way.
"You watch it, and it was a tale of two halves," he said. "The way we played in the second half, if we played that way in the first half, we'd have been fine. But we didn't."
The Blazers have struggled as well since the calendar turned to 2013, though they've seen a small resurgence in their last three games. UAB has lost seven of its last nine games, but has won two of its last three. The Blazers knocked off UTEP in overtime at home on Jan. 30, then scored a win at Tulsa on Wednesday.
Junior forwards Jordan Swing and Rod Rucker lead the Blazers in scoring, each averaging 13.8 points per game, while Rucker leads UAB with 8.1 points per game. UAB can score, as its fifth in C-USA at 73 points per game. And its 16.6-assist average, second in C-USA, shows that Blazers players are pretty good at finding the open man.
"That was a great road win at Tulsa, so they'll be coming into the game with a lot of confidence," Herrion said. "Offensively, they seem to have a lot of weapons. A lot of guys can make shots at different positions. They have good balance in how they score."
Yet UAB is among the conference's worst in stopping opponents from scoring. The Blazers are last in C-USA in scoring defense (73 ppg) and 3-point field goal defense (36.7 percent allowed), and next to last in field goal percentage defense (45.1 percent allowed). The Herd, however, sits only one spot above the Blazers in all three categories.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.