GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will try to carry their momentum into the Thomas Assembly Center as they get set to battle the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in a Conference USA bout.
Tom Herrion's Thundering Herd snapped a four-game slide on Thursday as it downed the Rice Owls, 73-63, in Houston. The victory was the first outside of the Cam Henderson Center and in C-USA play for Marshall, which now owns a 7-13 overall record. The Herd are just 1-4 in the league standings and have not been able to establish a consistent starting lineup. Marshall has the third highest scoring average among C-USA schools at 77.8 ppg and the second worst scoring defense in the 16-team league at 74.9 ppg.
Louisiana Tech is coming off of an 80-60 rout of Charlotte. The win was the eighth in nine outings for the Bulldogs, who are currently in a three-way tie for first place in the C-USA standings with Southern Miss and Tulsa. Coach Michael White has plenty of weapons at his disposal, which has helped Louisiana Tech outscore its opposition by a conference-best 18.6 ppg. The Bulldogs are among the national leaders in several categories and rank 12th nationally in scoring offense (84.3), ninth in rebounding (41.8) and 15th in assists (16.6).
This will be just the fourth meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Louisiana Tech has won all three previous meetings, but the series has been idle since Dec. 9, 1985.
With leading scorer Kareem Canty making his first appearance off the bench this season, Marshall's bench outscored Rice's reserves 30-4 on Thursday night to power the much-needed win. The rookie point guard tallied 18 points and seven assists, while fellow freshman Ryan Taylor posted 18 points and eight boards. Canty is netting 16.8 ppg to go along with a 6.6 apg, which is the second highest assists average in the C-USA. Taylor is second among active players on the roster at 13.8 ppg and Chris Thomas is adding 11.2 ppg. The Herd are a very poor free-throw shooting squad, converting just 61.4 percent of their attempts at the charity stripe on the campaign.
The only player ahead of Canty on the C-USA's assist leaderboard is LaTech's Kenneth Smith, who is handing out 7.1 helpers per game. The 6-foot-3 junior dealt out 13 assists in the Bulldogs' win over Charlotte while Alex Hamilton pumped in 22 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Bulldogs were Jaron Johnson and Chris Anderson with 12 points apiece, the latter clearing eight rebounds as the team posted an eighth win in nine attempts. LA Tech has been without its leading scorer Raheem Appleby, who will be out six-to-eight weeks with an ankle injury.
Even without Appleby, the Bulldogs should have little trouble fending off the Herd. Marshall has plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future with the rookie duo of Canty and Taylor leading the way, but Herrion will need to add some more pieces to turn the Herd into a contender in the C-USA.
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