Inside Marshall Sports

Conference USA rankings, 2/21

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The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. This week’s exception: “Travel partners” UAB and Middle Tennessee play each other at 1 p.m. Sunday.

My rankings, with last week’s results and upcoming schedule (RPI entering Tuesday’s games):

1. Middle Tennessee (24-4, 14-1, 31 RPI), d. WKU 78-52, d. Marshall 97-86. Both CBS’s Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi put the Blue Raiders on the 11 line — on the bubble if an at-large berth becomes necessary. This week: at UAB (Sunday).

2. Louisiana Tech (20-8, 12-3, 123 RPI), d. FAU 95-69, d. FIU 77-61. Dunkin’ Dawgs on 6-game streak after killing “F” teams. This week: at North Texas, Rice.

3. Old Dominion (16-10, 9-5, 136 RPI), d. Charlotte 72-48. Uh, oh, Herd. Monarchs held Charlotte to 30% shooting. This week: home vs. Marshall, WKU.

4. Texas-El Paso (11-15, 9-5, 257 RPI), d. North Texas 77-71 (OT), d. Rice 79-71. For Miners, FAU/FIU is not known as the “sunshine trip” It’s the “humidity trip.” This week: at FAU, FIU.

5. Marshall (15-12, 8-6, 127 RPI), d. UAB 74-59, lost to MTSU 97-86. Needs 4-game sweep to equal last year’s 12-6 league record. This week: at ODU, Charlotte.

6. Western Kentucky (13-14, 7-7, 218 RPI), lost to MTSU 78-52, d. UAB 76-64. Nicely impersonated a contender in Sunday TV game vs. Blazers. This week: at Charlotte, ODU.

7. Alabama-Birmingham (15-13, 8-7, 181 RPI), lost to Marshall 74-59, lost to WKU 76-64. Mired in a 1-5 mess, I might be overranking Blazers. This week: home vs. MTSU (Sunday).

8. Rice (18-9, 8-6, 184 RPI), d. UTSA 80-68, lost to UTEP 79-71. Owls close to fulfilling my crazy prediction of a first-round bye, but must finish 3-1 vs. Southern Miss, La Tech, Marshall, WKU. This week: home vs. Southern Miss, La Tech.

9. Charlotte (11-14, 5-9, 233 RPI), lost to ODU 72-48. Another team in 1-5 skid. This week: home vs. WKU, Marshall.

10. Florida Atlantic (9-16, 5-9, 286 RPI), Lost to La Tech 95-69, d. Southern Miss 94-82. This week: home vs UTEP, UTSA.

11. Texas-San Antonio (11-16, 6-8, 300 RPI), lost to Rice 80-68, lost to North Texas 83-73. Somehow, this team has a legit shot of recovering and rising back to .500. Really. This week: at FIU, FAU.

12. Southern Mississippi (8-19, 5-10, 336 RPI), d. FIU 69-66, lost to FAU 94-82. This week: at Rice, North Texas.

13. North Texas (8-18, 2-12, 331 RPI), lost to UTEP 77-71, d. UTSA 73-63. Rallying too late to make C-USA tournament or save Tony Benford’s job. Name to know: PG Ryan Woolridge, 2-time C-USA freshman of the week. This week: home vs. La Tech, Southern Miss.

14. Florida International (6-21, 2-12, 340 of 351 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 69-66, lost to La Tech 77-61. This week: home vs. UTSA, UTEP.

 

TV games — beIN Sports: Marshall at Old Dominion, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: Marshall at Charlotte, 6 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3: WKU at Old Dominion.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (Mar) 20.1, Davis (Cha) 20.0, Evans (Rice) 19.2.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.2, Johnson (WKU) 9.1, McCree (LT) 8.9.

Assists: Elmore (MU) 6.1, Bracey (LT) 5.964, Artis (UTEP) 5.962.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 86.2, Rice 81.7, Louisiana Tech 76.9.

Top shooting teams: Middle Tennessee .486, Rice .470, Louisiana Tech .469. (Marshall 6th at .458)

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .393, Marshall .374, Charlotte .369.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .362 (MU 11th at .242)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .770 (MU 14th, .666)

Conference USA rankings 2/7

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After a week’s hiatus, a considerable shake-up. This is starting to resemble the league standings, but there are some twists.

The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. This week’s exception: “Travel partners” Marshall and Western Kentucky play each other in a single game Saturday.

My rankings, with last week’s results and upcoming schedule (RPI entering Tuesday’s games):

1. Middle Tennessee (20-4, 10-1, 47 RPI), d. UTSA 69-59, lost to UTEP 57-54. For the second time, drops out of the “Receiving Votes” category. Losing 17-point leads will do that to you. This week: home vs. Old Dominion, Charlotte.

2. Louisiana Tech (16-8, 8-3, 128 RPI), d. Western Kentucky 76-67, d. Marshall 94-90. DeQuan Bracey had 5 assists, 0 turnovers vs. Marshall. His ratio now is 3.6, which *easily* leads the league. This week: at UTEP, UTSA.

3. Old Dominion (14-9, 7-4, 167 RPI), d. FIU 64-57, lost to FAU 65-61. So who else do I put up here. This week: at MTSU, UAB.

4. Texas-El Paso (8-14, 6-4, 296 RPI), d. UAB 63-59, d. MTSU 57-54. 7-foot-1 Matt Willms hit 2 FTs to clinch dramatic upset over MTSU. So the big guy wakes up and now he’s hitting from the line, too? That’s trouble. This week: home vs. La Tech, Southern Miss.

5. Alabama-Birmingham (14-10, 7-4, 166 RPI), lost to UTEP 63-59, lost to UTSA 82-67. I’ve seen UTSA. The Roadrunners just aren’t that good. Another wretched loss for Blazers. This week: home vs. Charlotte, Old Dominion.

6. Western Kentucky (12-12, 6-5, 208 RPI), lost to La Tech 76-67, d. Southern Miss 64-47. Don’t look now, but these guys are on a 3-1 roll, with a win over suddenly hot UTEP. This week: home vs. Marshall.

7. Marshall (13-11, 6-5, 153 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 91-76, lost to La Tech 94-90. Southern Miss was the worst loss of the season, and it’s not close. Suddenly, a 9-9 league record is not a given. This week: at WKU.

8. Charlotte (11-11, 5-6, 240 RPI), lost to FAU 77-75, d. FIU 95-80. This week: at UAB, MTSU.

9. Rice (15-8, 5-5, 177 RPI), d. North Texas 95-80. This week: at FIU, FAU.

10. Florida Atlantic (8-13, 4-6, 332 RPI), d. Charlotte 77-75, d. ODU 65-61. You just don’t walk into The Burrow and come out with a win. Wait … Owls pulled their Charlotte/ODU sweep on the road. Wow. This week: vs. North Texas, Rice.

11. Texas-San Antonio (10-13, 5-5, 293 RPI), lost to MTSU 69-59, d. UAB 82-67. So what can this team do to get any respect? This week: at Marshall, WKU.

12. Southern Mississippi (7-16, 4-7, 332 RPI), d. Marshall 91-76, lost to WKU 76-67. xxxx. This week: at UTSA, UTEP.

13. Florida International (5-18, 1-9, 337 of 351 RPI), GAME OF THE YEAR ALERT: Panthers host North Texas on Saturday in battle of the two teams who won’t make the field in Birmingham. This week: home vs. Rice, North Texas.

14. North Texas (6-16, 0-10, 330 RPI), lost to Rice 95-80. These guys play at Marshall in the regular-season finale. And the Mean Green’s season finale. This week: at FAU, FIU.

TV games — beIN Sports: Old Dominion at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m. Thursday. Campus Insiders: Charlotte at Middle Tennessee, 6 p.m. ASN  (certain markets): Old Dominion at UAB, 8 p.m. Saturday

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Davis (Char) 19.8, Elmore (Marshall) 19.5, McGill (FIU) 19.4.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.5, McCree (LT) 8.9, Johnson (WKU) 8.7.

Assists: Elmore (MU) 6.3, Artis (UTEP) 6.0, Bracey (LT) 5.4.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 86.8, Rice 82.0, Charlotte 78.9.

Top shooting teams: Middle Tennessee .487, Rice .476, UAB .470. (Marshall 5th at .460)

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .400, Charlotte .387, Marshall .375.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .370 (MU 11th at .238)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .764 (MU 14th, .663)

Austin Loop, Ryan Taylor chasing records

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Here are the school and Conference USA record charts Ryan Taylor and Austin Loop are climbing (after games of February 26):

Marshall records
SCORING
1. Skip Henderson (1984-88)    2,574
2. John Taft (1987-91)    2,332
3. Walt Walowac (1950-54)    1,982
4. Russell Lee (1969-72)    1,815
5. J.R. VanHoose (1998-02)    1,803
6. Tamar Slay (1998-02)    1,792
7. George Stone (1965-68)    1,723
8. Ryan Taylor (2013-pr.)    1,708
9. Leo Byrd (1956-59)    1,696
10. LaVerne Evans (1980-84)    1,611

REBOUNDS
1. Charlie Slack (1952-56)    1,916
2. J.R. VanHoose (1998-02)    1,086
3. Bob Burgess (1959-62)    973
4. Ryan Taylor (2013-pr.)  951
5. Bob Allen (1965-68)    919

ASSISTS
(Records not kept until 1970-71 except for the 1951-52 season)
1. Greg White (1977-81)    701
2. Mike D’Antoni (1970-73)    659
3. Sam Henry (1980-84)    519
4. Cornelius Jackson (1998-01)    518
5. Damier Pitts (2008-12)    517
6. Joe Hickman (1972-76)    499
7. Skip Henderson (1984-88)    470
8. DeAndre Kane (2010-13)    432
9. Jeff Battle (1981-85)    431
10. A.W. Hamilton (2002-05)    411
11. Travis Young (1997- 01)    349
12. Jon Elmore (2015-pr.)    329
13. Shaquille Johnson (2008-12)    300
14. Andy Paul Williamson (1987-90)    299
15. Ryan Taylor (2013-pr.)    287
16. John Taft (1987-91)    281

3-POINT FIELD GOALS MADE
1. Austin Loop (2013-pr.)    276
2. Tamar Slay (1998-02)    251
3. Keith Veney (1995-97)    241
4. Joda Burgess (1997-01)    210
5. Damier Pitts (2008-12)    201

3-POINT FIELD GOALS ATTEMPTED
1. Austin Loop (2013-pr.)    675
2. Tamar Slay (1998-02)    650
3. Damier Pitts (2008-12)    605
4. Keith Veney (1995-97)    564
5. Joda Burgess (1997-01)    541

3-POINT FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE
(Minimum 100 attempts)
1. Brett Vincent (1990-91)    43.6% (65-149)
2. Keith Veney (1995-97)    42.7% (241-564)
3. Skip Henderson (1984-88)    41.43% (133-321)
4. Scott Williams (1988-90)    41.36% (79-191)
5. Austin Loop (2013-pr.)    40.9% (276-675)
6. John Taft (1987-91)    40.0%    (185-463)
7. Ronald Blackshear (2001-03)    39.9% (195-489)
8. Chris Lutz (2008-10)    39.6% (129-326)
9. Malik Hightower (1991-95)    39.2% (96-245)
10. Joda Burgess (1997-01)    38.82% (210-541)

Conference USA records
SCORING
1. Stefon Jackson, UTEP (2006-09)    2,456
2. Randy Culpepper, UTEP (2008-11)    2,338
3. Altron Jackson, USF (1999-02)    2,017
4. Steve Logan, CIN (1999-02)    1,985
5. Jermaine Taylor, UCF (2006-09)    1,979
6. Ben Uzoh, Tulsa (2007-10)    1,951
7. Reece Gaines, Louisville (1999-03)    1,945
8. Rodney Carney, Memphis (2003-06)    1,901
9. B.B. Waldon, USF (1999-02)    1,869
10. Corey Santee, TCU (2003-05)    1,832
11. DeMarco Johnson, Charlotte (1996-98)    1,763
12. Jobey Thomas, Charlotte (1999-02)    1,737
13. Alex Hamilton, La Tech    (2014-16)    1,722
14. Keith Clanton, UCF (2009-13)    1,718
15. Ryan Taylor, Marshall (2013-pr.)  1,708

Rebounds
1. Joey Dorsey, Memphis (2005-08)    1,209
2. Kelly Wise, Memphis (1998-02)    1,075
3. Keith Clanton, UCF (2009-13)    1,000
4. Ellis Myles, Louisville (2000-05)    998
5. Jerome Jordan, Tulsa (2007-10) 983
6. Arsalan Kazemi, Rice (2009-12)    963
7. Robert Dozier, Memphis (2006-09)    961
8. Ryan Taylor, Marshall (2013-pr)        951
9. B.B. Waldon, USF (1998-02)    928
10. Papa Dia, SMU (2008-11)    911

3-POINT FG MADE
1. Jobey Thomas, Charlotte (1999-02)    346
2. Demon Brown, Charlotte (2000-04)    341
3. Randy Culpepper, UTEP (2008-11)    318
4. Rodney Carney, Memphis (2003-06)    287
5. Travis Diener, Marquette (2002-05)    284
6. Austin Loop, Marshall (2013-pr.)    276
7. Field Williams, Cincinnati (2000-04)    262
8. Robert McKiver, Houston (2007-08)    261
9. Akeem Richmond, ECU (2013-14)    260

Conference USA rankings 1/23

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OK, we had our most ridiculous upset yet, Alabama-Birmingham’s egg-laying at previously 0-for Florida International. This exercise has taken a turn for the hazardous.
Good news: Entering Monday’s play, there were no league teams in the RPI bottom 10. Hey, take it where you can get it.

The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. This week’s exception: “Travel partners” Florida Atlantic and FIU play each other in a single game Thursday.

My rankings, with results and schedule (RPI entering Monday’s games):

1. Middle Tennessee (17-3, 7-0, 35 RPI), d. FIU 65-52, d. FAU 86-57. After squishing the “F” schools, Saturday’s game with La Tech will be the game of the week. … maybe. This week: home vs. Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech.

2. Louisiana Tech (14-6, 6-1, 171 RPI), d. Rice 74-64, d. North Texas 81-57. Point guard DaQuan Bracey is a name you should know, as he was been named C-USA’s freshman of the week for the second time in a row. This week: at UAB, MTSU.

3. Marshall (12-8, 5-2, 95 RPI), d. WKU 94-80. UAB had to get punished for losing so grandly to FIU, so Herd is here. A sweep this week is a must, and 7-2 at the halfway mark would be really nice. This week: home vs. UTSA, UTEP.

4. Alabama-Birmingham (12-8, 5-2, 143 RPI), d. FAU 80-78, lost to FIU 94-85. Hakeem Baxter, who dumped 20 on Marshall, is day-to-day with a hyperextended knee with huge game looming Thursday. As he injured himself at FIU, the Blazers allowed the Panthers to shoot 65 percent. This week: home vs. Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss.

5. Old Dominion (11-8, 4-3, 158 RPI), lost to Charlotte 74-72. Despite their loss with 0.2 seconds left to 49ers, I’ll grudgingly keep Monarchs here. This week: at Rice, North Texas.

6. Charlotte (9-9, 3-4, 217 RPI), d. Old Dominion 74-72. After Jon Davis sank ODU with his last-second jumper, I am lifting this team up several spots. When you see who is behind, you this is not an overreaction. This week: at North Texas, Rice.

7. Rice (13-7, 3-4, 168 RPI), lost to La Tech 74-64, d. Southern Miss 61-58. I am one weekend from giving up on my preseason team of destiny, but a weekend sweep will change everything. This week: home vs Old Dominion, Charlotte.

8. Western Kentucky (9-11, 3-4, 221 RPI), lost to Marshall 94-80. Rick Stansbury might tell you, in the depths of privacy, this team isn’t great and he’s playing for the future. But even with a 4-game streak of double-digit losses, I raise this team a notch. This week: home vs. UTEP, UTSA.

9. Texas-El Paso (5-13, 3-3, 337 RPI), d. UTSA 59-39. After holding Roadrunners to 24 percent shooting, it’s clear the Miners woke up. This week: at WKU, Marshall.

10. Texas-San Antonio (9-10, 4-2, 316 RPI), lost to UTEP 59-39. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, they woke up, too. This week: at Marshall, WKU.

11. Southern Mississippi (6-13, 3-4, 339 of 351 RPI), d. North Texas 75-65, lost to Rice 61-58. Have pity on the Golden Eagles, this week’s victims of the league’s toughest road trip. This week: at MTSU, UAB.

12. Florida Atlantic (5-13, 1-6, 332 RPI), lost 80-78 to UAB, lost 86-57 to MTSU. Owls hit last-second 3-pointer to set a misleadingly close score against Blazers. Blue Raiders simply trounced them. This week: at FIU.

13. Florida International (5-15, 1-6, 338 RPI), lost to MTSU 65-62, d. UAB 80-78. I never would have guessed Eric Nottage as someone who could score 37. This week: home vs. FAU.

14. North Texas (6-13, 0-7, 310 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 75-65, lost to La Tech 81-57. This week: home vs. Charlotte, ODU.

TV games — beIN Sports, UTEP at WKU, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: Louisiana Tech at UAB, 9 p.m. Thursday. FCS: UTSA at WKU, 4 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3: Southern Miss at MTSU, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, La Tech at MTSU, 6 p.m. Saturday.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 20.5, Davis (Char) 19.5, McGill (FIU) 19.2.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.4, McCree (LT) 8.8, Koulechov (Rice) 8.7.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 6.2, Elmore (MU) 6.1, Bracey (LT) 5.7.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 87.8, Rice 81.7, Charlotte 78.7.

Top shooting teams: Middle Tennessee .486, Rice .478, Louisiana Tech .474. (Marshall 5th at .468)

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .392, Charlotte .391, Marshall .386.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .373 (MU 11th at .249)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .761 (MU 14th, .653)

Conference USA rankings, 1/17

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A lot of big games, so a lot of movement … except for Middle Tennessee, which is going nowhere. If the Blue Raiders keep it up, they’ll get the Memphis treatment, where they are too good to even be listed with the rest of the wretched refuse. They’re not there, yet.

The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. Exception: “Travel partners” Western Kentucky and Marshall, Old Dominion and Charlotte, and Texas-El Paso and Texas-San Antonio, who play a single game Saturday.

My rankings, with results and schedule (RPI as of Tuesday morning):

  1. Middle Tennessee (15-3, 5-0, 23 RPI), d. Marshall 69-57, d. WKU 91-76. Any questions? This week: at FIU, FAU.
  2. Alabama-Birmingham (11-7, 4-1, 125 RPI), d. WKU 72-54, d. Marshall 94-78. William Lee was player of the week after two dominant games; Denzell Watts and Deion Lavender are starting to answer the big question at point guard. This week: at FAU, FIU.
  3. Louisiana Tech (12-6, 4-1, 196 RPI), d. Charlotte 79-73, d. Old Dominion 75-63. Bulldogs shoot 60 percent in an impressive road sweep. This week: home vs. Rice, North Texas.
  4. Marshall (11-8, 4-2, 93 RPI), lost to MTSU 69-57, UAB 94-78. Road roughing-up shows need for Marshall to play with an “athletic basketball.” There will be no overpowering the top two teams. This week: WKU.
  5. Old Dominion (11-7, 4-2, 142 RPI), d. Southern Miss 54-50, lost to Louisiana Tech 75-63. After holding all teams to 48 percent or below, Monarchs allowed La Tech to shoot 57 percent — 67 percent in the second half. This week: at Charlotte.
  6. Rice (12-6, 2-3, 168 RPI), d. North Texas 101-79. Owls hit 101 for first time in a league game since joining Conference USA in 2005. They might top that on March 2 at the Henderson Center — and lose. This week: At La Tech, at Southern Miss.
  7. Texas-San Antonio (9-9, 4-1, 296 RPI), d. FAU 68-63, d. FIU 57-55. I’m not going to give a lot of credit for beating the “F” schools by a combined seven points, but where else do I put this surprise team? This week: at UTEP.
  8. Western Kentucky (9-10, 3-3, 214 RPI), lost to UAB 72-54, lost to MTSU 91-76. Falling behind by 27 and 19 points, Hilltoppers had the same type of trip Marshall suffered. This week: at Marshall.
  9. Charlotte (8-9, 2-4, 227 RPI), lost to Louisiana Tech 79-73, d. Southern Miss 82-66. 49ers fell behind by 23 against La Tech, rallied to within one and had a shot to tie. This week: home vs. Old Dominion.
  10. Southern Mississippi (5-12, 2-3, 338 RPI), lost to Old Dominion 54-50, lost to Charlotte 82-66. This week: home vs. North Texas, Rice.
  11. North Texas (6-11, 0-5, 292 RPI), lost to Rice 101-79. This week: at Southern Miss, at La Tech.
  12. Texas-El Paso (4-13, 2-3, 341 RPI), d. FIU 88-87 (2 OT), d. FAU 66-65 (OT). Buzzer-beating basket vs. FIU led SportCenter LA, but didn’t impress me much. This week: home vs. UTSA.
  13. Florida Atlantic (5-11, 1-4, 335 RPI), lost to UTSA 68-63, lost to UTEP 66-65 (OT). This week: home vs. UAB, MTSU.
  14. Florida International (4-14, 0-5, 347 of 351 RPI), lost to UTEP 88-87 (2 OT), lost to UTSA 57-55. This week: home vs. MTSU, UAB.

TV games — beIN Sports, UAB at Florida Atlantic, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: WKU at Marshall, 6 p.m. Saturday, Old Dominion at Charlotte, 8 p.m. Saturday.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 20.1, Koulechov (Rice) 19.9, McGill (FIU) 18.8.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.7, McCree (LT) 8.7, Taylor (Marshall) 8.44.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 6.4, Elmore (MU) 6.1, Bracey (LT) 5.7.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 87.5, Rice 83.8, Charlotte 78.9.

Top shooting teams: Rice .486, Middle Tennessee .480, Louisiana Tech .480, Marshall .467.

Top 3-point % teams: Charlotte .397, Rice .393, Middle Tennessee .383, Marshall .380.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .373 (MU 11th at .251)

Defensive rebound %: MTSU .763 (MU 14th, .658)

C-USA rankings 1/9

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All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. Exception: “Travel partners” North Texas and Rice play each other in a single game, Saturday.

My rankings, with results and schedule (RPI as of Monday morning):

  1. Middle Tennessee (13-3, 3-0, 19 RPI), d. Rice 80-77, North Texas 79-68. Raiders were down 11 with 3:01 left at Rice. This week: home vs. Marshall, WKU.
  2. Marshall (11-6, 4-0, 72 RPI), d. Old Dominion 90-86 (OT), d. Charlotte 110-93. Now we get to see what these guys can do as a road underdog. This week: at MTSU, UAB.
  3. Alabama-Birmingham (9-7, 2-1, 142 RPI), beat North Texas 54-52, Rice 88-81 (OT). William Lee’s game-winner avoided disaster at MT; Blazers needed OT after committing 3-shot-foul at the end of regulation. This week: home vs. WKU, Marshall.
  4. Old Dominion (10-6, 3-1, 115 RPI), lost to Marshall 90-86 (OT), d. WKU 79-67. Recovers from tough loss by outscoring Hilltoppers 44-21 over last 15 minutes. This week: home vs. La Tech, Southern Miss
  5. Louisiana Tech (10-6, 2-1, 265 RPI), d. UTEP 64-44, lost to UTSA 69-68. Booted 14-point second-half lead vs. UTSA, at home no less. This week: at Charlotte, ODU.
  6. Western Kentucky (10-8, 3-1, 229 RPI), d. Charlotte 82-80, lost to ODU 79-67. 6-game win streak shot down against Monarchs. This week: at UAB, MTSU.
  7. Rice (11-6, 1-3, 179 RPI), lost to MTSU 80-77, UAB 88-81 (OT). Two rough losses to top teams aren’t shameful, but Owls missed opportunities at home. This week: Home vs. North Texas.
  8. Charlotte (7-8, 1-3, 209 RPI), lost to WKU 82-80, Marshall 110-93. Victimized by late basket, then steamrolled by Herd offense. This week: at at La Tech, Southern Miss.
  9. Southern Mississippi (5-10, 2-1, 346 RPI), d. UTSA 77-59, UTEP 73-65. Suddenly, Doc Sadler’s bunch has cultivated confidence. his week: home at ODU, Charlotte.
  10. Texas-San Antonio (7-9, 2-1, 318 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 77-59, d. La Tech 69-68. Don’t know what to do with team now. Credited for physical presences at La Tech. This week: home vs. FAU, FIU.
  11. Florida Atlantic (5-9, 1-2, 301 RPI), d. FIU 73-64. his week, at UTSA, UTEP.
  12. North Texas (6-10, 0-4, 296 RPI), lost to UAB 54-52, MTSU 79-68. This week: at Rice.
  13. Florida International (4-12, 0-3, 340 RPI), lost to FAU 73-64. This week: at UTEP, UTSA.
  14. Texas-El Paso (2-13, 0-3, 350 of 351 RPI), lost to La Tech 64-44, Southern Miss 73-65. Looking down on Alabama A&M, but that’s it. Tim Floyd, you’re fired. This week: home vs. FIU, FAU.

TV games: beIN Sports: Marshall/MTSU, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN (generally in local markets): La Tech, ODU 6 p.m. Saturday, La Tech/WKU 8 p.m. Saturday. ESPN 3: La Tech/Charlotte, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 21.1, Koulechov (Rice) 19.6, Davis (Char) , Evans (Rice) 19.1.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 10.1, McCree (LT) 9.0, Taylor (ODU) 8.6.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 6.53, Elmore (MU) 6.47, Bracey (LT) 5.8.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 89.9, Rice 82.8, Charlotte 79.1.

Top shooting teams: Rice .483, Middle Tennessee .478, Marshall .477.

Top 3-point % teams: Charlotte .395, Marshall .393, Rice .389.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .377 (MU 10th at .266)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .760 (MU 13th at .660)

C-USA rankings, 1/3/17

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All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. Exception: “Travel partners” FIU, FAU play each other in a single game, Saturday.

My rankings, with results and schedule (RPI as of Tuesday morning):

  1. Middle Tennessee (11-3, 1-0, 23 RPI), d. UAB 60-49. This week: at Rice, North Texas. Reggie Upshaw scored 34 in wire-to-wire victory over Blazers, who shot just 35 percent and turned it over 16 times.
  2. Marshall (9-6, 2-0, 111 RPI), d. FIU 94-70, d. FAU 89-72. This week: home vs. ODU, Charlotte. An FIU/FAU road sweep does not a season make, but Herd did spank both pretty hard. And who else do I put No. 2?
  3. Louisiana Tech (9-5, 1-0, 249 RPI), d. Southern Miss 79-55. This week: home vs. UTEP, North Texas. Perhaps this team, which led just 25-18 at halftime before destroying Golden Eagles.
  4. Alabama-Birmingham (7-7, 0-1, 198 RPI), lost to MTSU 60-49. This week: at North Texas, Rice.
  5. Old Dominion (9-5, 2-0, 119 RPI), d. Rice 62-56, d. North Texas 55-48. If Marshall scores 75 on these guys, that’s as good as 100. Monarchs beat NT despite shooting 28 percent. This week: at Marshall, WKU
  6. Rice (11-4, 1-1, 184 RPI), lost to ODU 62-56, d. Charlotte 89-70. My “hunch” team rolled over 49ers as 4 players scored 16 and up. We’ll find out more about the Owls in a hurry. This week: home vs MTSU, UAB.
  7. Western Kentucky (8-7, 2-0, 227 RPI), d. FAU 69-54, d. FIU 69-66. Duplicated MU’s Florida sweep, but struggled at FIU. Panthers led for 22 minutes. This week: home vs. Charlotte, ODU.
  8. Charlotte (7-6, 1-1, 159 RPI), d. North Texas 101-76, lost 89-70 to Rice. Plays at Marshall on Saturday in possible 200-point game. This week: at WKU, Marshall.
  9. Texas-San Antonio (6-8, 1-0, 334 RPI), d. UTEP 67-55. With 22 pts off turnovers, led UTEP for 30 minutes. This week: at Southern Miss, La Tech.
  10. Florida International (4-11, 0-2, 340 RPI), lost to Marshall 94-70, lost to WKU 69-66. The dregs of C-USA society begin here. This week: at FAU, Saturday.
  11. North Texas (6-8, 0-2, 288 RPI), lost to Charlotte 101-76, lost to ODU 55-48. This week: home vs. MTSU, UAB.
  12. Texas-El Paso (2-11, 0-1, 347 RPI), lost to UTSA 67-55. The horror show continues in El Paso. This week: at La Tech, Southern Miss.
  13. Florida Atlantic (4-9, 0-2, 268 RPI), lost to WKU 69-54, lost to Marshall 89-72. This week, home vs. FIU, Saturday.
  14. Southern Mississippi (3-10, 0-1, 349 of 351 RPI), lost to La Tech 79-55. This week: home vs. UTSA, UTEP.

TV games: Campus Insiders, UTEP/La Tech 7:30 Thursday, WKU/UAB at 8 p.m. Saturday. beIN Sports: MTSU-Rice, 8 p.m. Thursday. FCS: Charlotte-WKU, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: FIU-FAU 2 p.m. Saturday, ODU-WKU 6 p.m. Saturday.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 20.3, Davis (Char) 20.1,  McGill (FIU) 19.6, Koulechov (Rice) 18.2, Evans (Rice) 18.0

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 10.0, McCree (LT) 9.4, Taylor (ODU) 8.5.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 7.2, Elmore (MU) 6.4, Bracey (LT) 5.6.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 88.5, Rice 83.3, La Tech 78.9.

Top shooting teams: Rice .486, La Tech .481, Middle Tennessee .480, Marshall .474.

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .393, Marshall .387, Charlotte .384

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .384 (MU 10th at .262)

Defensive rebound %: La Tech .770 (MU 143h at .660)

Conference USA hoop rankings

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After each weekend, I’ll rank the C-USA teams as I see them. By late February, those rankings will somewhat resemble the standings, so I will refocus on projected tournament pairings and NIT prospects. (I am going to assume the league gets one NCAA bid.)

Wednesday night, Marshall lost 112-106 to Pitt after falling behind 29, Western Kentucky downed RPI 259 Austin Peay 97-92 and Florida Atlantic lost to RPI 92 Florida Gulf Coast 75-62. I won’t adjust the rankings I put forth in my Monday column.

Those, rankings, with weekend schedule (RPI as of Thursday midday Eastern):

  1. Middle Tennessee (10-3, 6 RPI) home vs UAB (4 p.m. Sunday, Campus Insiders)
  2. Alabama-Birmingham (7-6, 194) at UAB (Sunday, see above)
  3. Marshall (7-6, 117) at FIU, FAU (Sat-Mon)
  4. Rice (130-3, 156) at ODU, Charlotte (Sat-Mon; Monday game 7 p.m. on ESPN3)
  5. Louisiana Tech (8-5, 258) at Southern Miss (Sun)
  6. Old Dominion (7-4, 91) home vs. Old Dominion (Thursday); vs. Rice, North Texas (Sat-Mon)
  7. Western Kentucky (6-7, 245) at FAU, FIU (Sat-Mon)
  8. Charlotte (6-5, 186) home vs North Texas, Rice (Sat-Mon; Monday game 7 p.m. on ESPN3)
  9. Florida Atlantic (4-7, 241) home vs WKU, Marshall (Sat-Mon)
  10. Texas-El Paso (2-9, 346) at New Mexico State (Friday); at UTSA (Sunday)
  11. Florida International (4-9, 324) home vs. Marshall, WKU (Sat-Mon)
  12. North Texas (6-6, 226) at Charlotte, ODU (Sat-Mon)
  13. Texas-San Antonio (4-8, 340) home vs. East Central (Thursday); home vs. UTEP (Sunday)
  14. Southern Mississippi (3-9, 348) home vs La Tech (Sun)

This will be re-ranked after the weekend’s games, with some overreacting moves (only half-joking).

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 20.8, Davis (Char) 19.9,  McGill (FIU) 19.3, Koulechov (Rice) 18.5, Browning (MU) 18.0, Williams (MT) 18.0

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 10.3, McCree (LT) 9.1, Johnson (WKU) 8.8.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 7.5, Elmore (MU) 6.8, Bracey (LT) 5.8.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 88.1, Rice 85, La Tech 78.8.

Top shooting teams: Rice .494, La Tech .487, Middle Tennessee .483, Marshall .467.

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .399, Marshall .379, Middle Tennessee .373.

Offensive rebound %: ODU .383 (MU 10th at .257)

Defensive rebound %: La Tech .765 (MU 14th at .652)

I prefer those rebounding stats, as you can see. Tough to explain in a story, but a more effective analysis.

 

 

Herd notebook: Morrell pressed into service again

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HUNTINGTON — Garet Morrell’s numbers weren’t great and he led Marshall to a single touchdown in its 60-6 loss to Western Kentucky, but his teammates bragged on him afterward.

It was the second start on short notice for the 6-foot-3 freshman from Leesburg, Georgia, and it came against the second- or third-toughest team on the schedule, WKU. His first career start came against Louisville, then ranked third in the nation.

In both instances, he replaced Chase Litton. The sophomore had shoulder issues, coach Doc Holliday said after the game.

“Ah, man, a lot of respect for that guy,” receiver Josh Knight said of Morrell. “Tough. He’s a true freshman coming in … a lot of love for him. He fought for us.”

He threw 35 passes and completed 19, but only racked up 143 yards, with two interceptions. He had the game’s long play of 32 yards, a toss to Michael Clark on third-and-10 at the WKU 47.

His NCAA passer rating is a 86.61, mediocre at best.

The Herd scored its only touchdown on that drive, cutting the insurmountable lead to 48-6. Alas, the Hilltoppers picked up two points after returning a blocked extra point.

The play-calling was conservative, but not as much as it was in the Herd’s 59-24 loss to Louisville. But it didn’t help Morrell that he was sacked twice and hurried seven times.

The toughest thing the Hilltoppers threw at him?

“Really, the D-line,” Morrell said. “To be an efficient quarterback, you’ve got to have time in the pocket. I love my O-line, we’re going to get on it, they’re going to get on it [but] it’s hard to not have time and make plays happen.”

The drive that helped the Herd avoid its first shutout in 16 years covered 16 plays, 82 yards and took 8 minutes, 49 seconds, the latter an MU season high.

He finished the drive with a 4-yard pass to Ryan Yurachek, who caught his 16th career TD pass. Yurachek missed the Herd’s game last week against Florida International.

“Bum leg or not bum leg, I’ve got faith in him,” Morrell said. “He’s going to make a play.”

Morrell finishes the season 33 of 67 for 290 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating is 96.36.

***

The Herd scored for the 207th consecutive game, but it came to the 1:57 mark of the third quarter. The streak dates back to an infamous 42-0 loss at Toledo on Oct. 14, 2000.

MU’s last close call came in a 16-6 loss in heavy rain at Central Florida in 2011. The Herd only scored on a defensive touchdown, a 12-yard fumble recovery by Rashad Jackson with 3:17 left in the third.

The season before, the Herd only scored on a blocked field goal return in the first quarter by Ahmed Shakoor in a 45-7 loss at Ohio State. The Herd lost 24-7 in 2009 and 27-3 in 2008 at West Virginia, but both scores came in the first half.

Other close calls: 31-3 at Miami in the 2007 season opener, 42-7 at Southern Mississippi in the 2006 finale, seven-point games at Kansas State and Tennessee earlier that season, three-point games at Texas-El Paso and Memphis in 2005, a 13-3 loss at Georgia in 2004 and the 45-6 loss at Miami (Ohio) in 2003.

Briefly

  • No, Marshall did not have the biggest collapse in major-college football, as far as the win column is concerned. The Herd fell from 10-3 in 2015 to 3-9.
  • That “honor” belongs to Michigan State, which took a dive from 12-2 to 3-9.
  • The Herd had just one tackle for loss. Joe Massaquoi made that tackle, throwing Anthony Wales for a 3-yard loss to the Marshall 21-yard line.
  • That was rendered moot on the next play, when Mike White completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor.
  • Kylen Towner’s 93-yard TD return of the opening kickoff was the first such return the Herd has given up since UCF’s Quincy McDuffie struck twice in 2012, a 54-17 Knights win.
  • Marshall’s losing home record drops it to 151-30 (.834), tentatively falling from first to third in the FBS. Houston (.857) and Georgia Southern (.837) entered Saturday’s play with higher percentages. Houston’s stadium is in its third year, Georgia Southern is in its 33rd.