HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -— The Marshall men's basketball team returns to the road — where it has yet to win this season — but this time, the Thundering Herd is facing an opponent it knows it can beat. It's already beaten this foe this season.
Marshall (11-15, 4-7 Conference USA) visits Central Florida at 7 tonight for the last time as C-USA opponents. The Knights (17-8, 7-4 C-USA) head to the Big East next season. While UCF sits in third in the conference standings and Marshall is ninth, it was the Herd who prevailed earlier this month at the Cam Henderson Center.
"That feels good," freshman guard Tamron Manning said. "That's a good confidence boost, I think, going into the game. We have that one up on them. But in conference play, everything kind of goes out the window."
Observers could have said that the first time the Herd and Knights played on Feb. 2. UCF entered the game winner of its previous four, while Marshall entered the loser of its previous three. That didn't matter, as the Herd had its best shooting night of the season, hitting 51.9 percent from the floor, and blocked 14 shots in a 75-71 win.
The Herd showed a calmness and resilience against UCF that had been hit-or-miss for much of the season.
Marshall trailed by four points with 6:56 left in the game, but rebounded to lead by as many as eight points with 17 seconds left.
"It was a really good win for us," Herrion said of that first game.
"We made great plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch. I don't know where it ranks. I'm not into that. But we found a way, and that's obviously something we've got to do, whether it's home or away."
Neither team has fared particularly well since that game.