Inside Marshall Sports

Marshall defensive lineman Vinny Curry, center, fights for position on the scrimmage line against Southern Mississippi during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/Randy Snyder)
Marshall defensive lineman Vinny Curry, center, fights for position on the scrimmage line against Southern Mississippi during a game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/Randy Snyder)

When the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game this weekend, it will put the Eagles’ defender Vinny Curry and Vikings’ quarterback Case Keenum in the spotlight on the big stage.

It won’t, however, be the first time the two have met on national television. When they did so 10 years ago, it produced one of the most memorable games in Joan C. Edwards Stadium history.

Continue reading…

News of sorts this week: Jay Bilas compilies his best 68 teams — he would just as soon see the “low major” conferences take a hike — and puts Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky *and* Old Dominion in his list. Such an analysis on Selection Sunday would mean one NCAA bid and two to the NIT, but that’s not a negative at this level. If you disagree, see how many multiple-bid leagues there will be other than the “Power 5” and the Big East. That number probably won’t reach five.

On to this week’s mess, in which I cannot decipher anything below No. 5.

Teams are not ranked by RPI or necessarily league standings. Important: Overall records are against Division I teams only. For instance, Marshall is 12-6, but that includes a win over Concord. The rankings will not be shuffled until next week.

1. Western Kentucky (12-5, 5-0)
Last week:
beat ODU 75-68, Charlotte 73-63
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. UAB, MTSU
Quality wins
Purdue 77-73 (AP No. 14!), SMU 63-61, Wright State 78-60, Louisiana Tech 69-68, Marshall 112-87, ODU 75-68
Good losses
Belmont 72-75, Wisconsin 80-81, Villanova (No. 1) 58-66, Missouri State 80-85
Bad losses
Ohio 84-89

Notes: Toppers held opponents to 39 percent and 35 percent shooting last week. Justin Johnson went 25 pts/14 rebs against ODU.

2. Middle Tennessee (12-4, 5-0)
Last week: beat Louisiana Tech 72-57, Southern Miss 69-49
Thursday/Saturday: at Marshall, WKU
Quality wins
Murray State 72-67, Vanderbilt 66-63, Ole Miss 77-58, Princeton 69-67, UAB 63-60
Good losses
Auburn 70-76, Belmont 63-69, USC 84-89, Miami 81-84
Bad losses
None

Notes: Blue Raiders’ winning streak against conference opponents has hit 15.

3. Alabama-Birmingham (11-5, 4-1)
Last week:
Beat Southern Miss 86-75, Louisiana Tech 74-62.
Thursday/Saturday: at WKU, Marshall
Quality wins
Memphis 71-56
Good losses
Auburn 80-85, Buffalo 91-96, MTSU 60-63
Bad losses
Richmond 50-63

Notes: Zack Bryant has become another name Marshall fans should watch. He earned freshman of the week honors, in part because of a 19-point outing against Southern Miss. The Blazers have reloaded nicely.

4. Old Dominion (13-4, 4-1)
Last week:
lost to WKU 68-75, beat Marshall 82-76
Thursday/Saturday: At FIU, FAU
Quality wins
Dayton 75-67, Towson 57-54, Marshall 82-76
Good losses
VCU 75-82, William & Mary 77-79 (halfcourt shot at buzzer)
Bad losses
None

Notes: Monarchs led Marshall for 35 minutes, 22 seconds and led by as many as 23. That doesn’t mean you win by 46, especially against Marshall, but there was not “we almost lost” to that one. Still, ODU must overcome inconsistency in its Florida swing.

5. Marshall (12-5, 2-1)
Last week: Beat Charlotte 91-83, lost to Old Dominion 76-82
Quality wins
Louisiana Tech 78-65
Good losses
Xavier (AP No. 6) 77-81
Bad losses
Morehead 83-86

Notes: I won’t put the ODU game into the “good win” category because (a) MU never led, (b) ODU led by 23 and (c) MU rallied to within 2, but couldn’t get the ball back with a chance to tie or take lead. As of Wednesday afternoon, Herd was 139th in RPI and could actually rise if it got *swept* this week. That’s how it works sometimes.

6. North Texas (8-8, 3-2)
Last week:
Beat Rice 85-78
Thursday/Saturday: at La Tech, at Southern Miss
Quality wins
San Diego 86-83
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 72-82, UT-Arlington 60-65, Old Dominion 60-63
Bad losses
UT-Rio Grande Valley 63-75

Notes: Somebody has to be sixth. Roosevelt Smith did what a team’s best player should do against Rice — be the player of the week. 42 points, 10 3-point goals will get the job done.

7. Florida International (5-10, 2-3)
Last week:
beat UTSA 79-76, lost to UTEP 68-72
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. ODU, Charlotte
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Elon 87-95, MTSU 66-71 OT
Bad losses
Stetson 64-70, Hartford 72-79, James Madison 67-76, UTEP 68-72

Note: Arguably, I should lift La Tech up here.

8. Louisiana Tech (8-9, 1-5)
Last week: lost to MTSU 57-72, UAB 62-74
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. North Texas, Rice
Quality wins
Evansville 63-61
Good losses
Alabama 74-77, Stephen F. Austin 85-83, Western Kentucky 68-69
Bad losses
None

Notes: The Bulldogs are in last place in the standings and didn’t give their opponents a scare last week, but I refuse to let go of them. Why? The five teams they have lost to are a combined 19-7 in conference. Look at the schedule and you’ll see a very possible 6-game winning streak. It’s time for these guys to get well.

9. Southern Miss (5-10, 2-4)
Last week:
lost to UAB 75-86, at MTSU 49-69
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Rice, North Texas
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Mississippi State 64-70
Bad losses
Florida State 45-98, South Alabama 58-69, MTSU 49-69

Notes: Being held to 49 points and losing by 20 gets you rung up for a “bad loss,” no matter the opponent.

10. UTSA (6-10, 2-4)
Last week:
lost to FIU 76-79, FAU 69-73
Saturday: home vs. UTEP
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 85-97, Utah Valley 80-88, Nebraska 94-104
Bad losses
Coastal Carolina 69-83, FIU 76-79

Notes: I am restrained after the Roadrunners suffer the “sweep of shame.”

11. Florida Atlantic (5-9, 2-3)
Last week:
beat UTEP 73-66, UTSA 73-69
Thursday/Saturday: Charlotte, ODU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Arkansas State 63-64, South Florida 59-60, Texas Tech 54-90, Towson 52-76, Minnesota 60-95, UAB 44-75

Note: Ronald Delph averaged a double-double in the Owls’ unexpected sweep, posting 12 points and 17 rebounds against UTEP.

12. UTEP (6-11, 2-4)
Last week:
lost to FAU 66-73, beat FIU 72-68
Saturday: at UTSA
Quality wins
Washington State 76-69
Good losses
Boise State 56-58
Bad losses
New Mexico State 60-80, Appalachian State 72-76, FAU 66-73

13. Rice (2-14, 1-4)
Last week:
lost to North Texas 78-85
Thursday/Saturday: at Southern Miss, at La Tech
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Old Dominion 75-82
Bad losses
Eastern Kentucky 72-73, UT-Rio Grande Valley 67-69, Texas State 66-74, UTSA 66-79, UTEP 62-80

14. Charlotte (4-11, 1-4)
Last week:
lost to Marshall 83-91, WKU 63-73
Thursday/Saturday: at FAU, FIU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
James Madison 82-87, Chattanooga 50-64, South Florida 76-78, Rice

Notes: It wasn’t an awful week for the 49ers, considering the competition, but somebody has to fill the void left by FAU. That loss to RPI No. 325 Rice will not be forgotten.

 

Conference USA basketball rankings — Jan. 10

OK, the season is underway. Rice beat Charlotte, but the 49ers still won one. And oh, by the way, Western Kentucky is pretty good.

I  use RPIs as a starting point in listing “quality wins,” “good losses” and “bad losses.” I will begin with wins over top-150 teams and close losses to top-125 teams and go from there, adding and deleting as it makes sense. Losses to over-200 teams are listed, perhaps with mitigating comments, and routs to anybody can be listed.

Teams are not ranked by RPI. Important: Overall records are against Division I teams only. For instance, Marshall is 11-5, but that includes a win over Concord. The rankings will not be shuffled until next week.

(1) 2. Western Kentucky (10-5, 3-0)
Last week:
beat Marshall 112-87
Thursday/Saturday: at ODU, at Charlotte
Quality wins
Purdue 77-73 (AP No. 14!), SMU 63-61, Wright State 78-60, Louisiana Tech 69-68, Marshall 112-87
Good losses
Belmont 72-75, Wisconsin 80-81, Villanova (No. 1) 58-66, Missouri State 80-85
Bad losses
Ohio 84-89

Notes: The Hilltoppers may have the best starting five in the league and their 9th scholarship players hit the ground running the day after being declare eligible by the NCAA. Their thrashing of Marshall sent a loud statement. Another biggie Thursday in Norfolk.

2. Middle Tennessee (10-4, 3-0)
Last week: beat FIU 71-66, FAU 61-57
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss
Quality wins
Murray State 72-67, Vanderbilt 66-63, Ole Miss 77-58, Princeton 69-67, UAB 63-60
Good losses
Auburn 70-76, Belmont 63-69, USC 84-89, Miami 81-84
Bad losses
None

Notes: I wanted to just keep the Blue Raiders at No. 1 and let the MTSU-WKU game January 20 settle things. But an overtime win over Florida International doesn’t get it.

3. UAB (9-5, 2-1)
Last week:
Beat FAU 75-44, FIU 74-64.
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech
Quality wins
Memphis 71-56
Good losses
Auburn 80-85, Buffalo 91-96, MTSU 60-63
Bad losses
Richmond 50-63

Notes: Boy, that loss to MTSU made these guys really, really angry! FAU did one thing marginally well, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds … and scored 5 points off of them.

4. Old Dominion (10-3, 1-0)
Last week:
beat Rice 82-75, North Texas 63-60
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. WKU, Marshall
Quality wins
Dayton 75-67, Towson 57-54
Good losses
VCU 75-82, William & Mary 77-79 (halfcourt shot at buzzer)
Bad losses
None

Notes: Word about the North Texas game: Monarchs led for 39:44, though Mean Green rallied to get within one.

5. Marshall (10-5, 2-1)
Last week: lost to Western Kentucky 87-112
Thursday/Saturday: at Charlotte, at Old Dominion

Quality wins
Louisiana Tech 78-65
Good losses
Xavier (AP No. 6) 77-81
Bad losses
Morehead 83-86

Notes: The Thundering Herd was picked 7th in the preseason poll because nobody had an idea Ajdin Penava could turn into a star player. So for this week, at least, we see how this team does without the guy, period.

6. UTSA (6-8, 2-2)
Last week:
beat Louisiana Tech 78-76, lost to Southern Miss 83-93
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. FIU, FAU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 85-97, Utah Valley 80-88, Nebraska 94-104
Bad losses
Coastal Carolina 69-83

Notes: Now we get into the messiness. Talk about your split weekends!

7. North Texas (7-8, 2-2)
Last week:
lost to Charlotte 68-70, Old Dominion 60-63
Saturday: at Rice
Quality wins
San Diego 86-83
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 72-82, UT-Arlington 60-65, Old Dominion 60-63
Bad losses
UT-Rio Grande Valley 63-75

Notes: How can I possibly keep a Mean Green team in the front half after losing to Charlotte? I don’t know.

8. Louisiana Tech (8-7, 1-3)
Last week: lost to UTSA 76-78, beat UTEP 97-88
Thursday/Saturday: at MTSU, at UAB
Quality wins
Evansville 63-61
Good losses
Alabama 74-77, Stephen F. Austin 85-83, Western Kentucky 68-69
Bad losses
None

Notes: Bulldogs not only get thrown to the bottom division, but they’re staring at a 1-5 start.

9. Southern Miss (5-8, 2-2)
Last week:
beat UTEP 85-75, UTSA 93-83
Thursday/Saturday: at UAB, at MTSU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Mississippi State 64-70
Bad losses
Florida State 45-98, South Alabama 58-69

Notes: If the Golden Eagles want an apology for my critique of them last week, they’ve got their shot this week.

10. Florida International (4-9, 1-2)
Last week:
lost to MTSU 66-71 OT, UAB 64-75
Thursday/Saturday: at UTSA, UTEP
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Elon 87-95, MTSU 66-71 OT
Bad losses
Stetson 64-70, Hartford 72-79, James Madison 67-76

Note: Much like I demoted the Blue Raiders, I raise the Panthers. A tie after regulation must mean something.

11. UTEP (5-10, 1-3)
Last week:
lost to Southern Miss 75-85, Louisiana Tech 88-97
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. FAU, FIU
Quality wins
Washington State 76-69
Good losses
Boise State 56-58
Bad losses
New Mexico State 60-80, Appalachian State 72-76

Notes: xxxxxx.

12. Rice (2-13, 1-3)
Last week:
lost to Old Dominion 75-82, beat Charlotte 73-64
Saturday: home vs. North Texas
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Old Dominion 75-82
Bad losses
Eastern Kentucky 72-73, UT-Rio Grande Valley 67-69, Texas State 66-74, UTSA 66-79, UTEP 62-80

13. Charlotte (4-9, 1-2)
Last week:
beat North Texas 70-68, lost to Rice 64-73
Thursday/Saturday:
home vs. Marshall, WKU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
James Madison 82-87, Chattanooga 50-64, South Florida 76-78

14. Florida Atlantic (3-9, 0-3)
Last week: 
lost to UAB 44-75, MTSU 57-61
Thursday/Saturday: at UTEP, UTSA
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Arkansas State 63-64, South Florida 59-60, Texas Tech 54-90, Towson 52-76, Minnesota 60-95, UAB 44-75

Note: Fought to the end against the Blue Raiders, but that doesn’t quite cover up that mess against UAB. To the bottom ye shall go, Owls.

Conference USA basketball rankings – Jan. 2

After the first week, there isn’t much change, as the top 6 won all their games against the bottom 8.

I  use RPIs as a starting point in listing “quality wins,” “good losses” and “bad losses.” I will begin with wins over top-150 teams and close losses to top-125 teams and go from there, adding and deleting as it makes sense. Losses to over-200 teams are listed, perhaps with mitigating comments, and routs to anybody can be listed.

Teams are not ranked by RPI. Important: Overall records are against Division I teams only. For instance, Marshall is 11-4, but that includes a win over Concord. The rankings will not be shuffled until next week.

1. Middle Tennessee (8-4, 1-0)
Last week: beat UAB 63-60
Thursday, Saturday: at FIU, FAU
Quality wins
Murray State 72-67, Vanderbilt 66-63, Ole Miss 77-58, Princeton 69-67, UAB 63-60
Good losses
Auburn 70-76, Belmont 63-69, USC 84-89, Miami 81-84
Bad losses
None

Notes: Unless I can’t count, Nick King scored 21 of his team’s final 23 points to fend off the Blazers. He has taken over the league’s scoring lead, 23.8-23.5 over Marshall’s Jon Elmore.

2. Western Kentucky (9-5, 2-0)
Last week:
beat Louisiana Tech 69-68, beat Southern Miss 82-66
Saturday:
at Marshall
Quality wins
Purdue 77-73 (AP No. 14!), SMU 63-61, Wright State 78-60, Louisiana Tech 69-68
Good losses
Belmont 72-75, Wisconsin 80-81, Villanova (No. 1) 58-66, Missouri State 80-85
Bad losses
Ohio 84-89

Notes: Hilltoppers recorded assists on their first 12 baskets and hit 12 of 24 from 3-point range against Southern Miss. But more impressive was leading Louisiana Tech for 39 minutes, though WKU lost the lead and needed two free throws and Dwight Coleby’s block to seize the game.

3. Marshall (10-4, 2-0)
Last week: beat Southern Miss 85-66, beat Louisiana Tech 78-65
Saturday: home vs. Western Kentucky

Quality wins
Louisiana Tech 78-65
Good losses
Xavier (AP No. 6) 77-81
Bad losses
Morehead 83-86

Notes: What was impressive about beating a still-athletic Lousiana Tech team was that (a) the Herd played with an illness-hampered Ajdin Penava and (b) never allowed the Bulldogs a chance in the second half. Herd takes Bulldogs’ spot.

4. UAB (7-5, 0-1)
Last week:
lost to Middle Tennessee 60-63
Thursday/Saturday: At FAU, FIU.
Quality wins
Memphis 71-56
Good losses
Auburn 80-85, Buffalo (RPI 33! WHAT?) 91-96, MTSU 60-63
Bad losses
Richmond 50-63

Notes: Remember, Blazers were picked second in the preseason poll, and their 3-point home loss to the Blue Raiders didn’t offer a rebuttal. There were 15 lead changes, 12 ties and no leader bigger than 5 points.

5. Old Dominion (10-3, 1-0)
Last week:
beat Charlotte 89-58
Thursday/Saturday: at Rice, North Texas
Quality wins
Dayton 75-67, Towson 57-54
Good losses
VCU 75-82, William & Mary 77-79 (halfcourt shot at buzzer)
Bad losses
None

Notes: Looks as if everybody’s going to beat Charlotte, but the good teams will make the 49ers look awful. Monarchs are a good team.

6. Louisiana Tech (7-6, 0-2)
Last week: lost to WKU 68-69, at Marshall 65-78
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. UTSA, UTEP
Quality wins
Evansville 63-61
Good losses
Alabama 74-77, Stephen F. Austin 85-83, Western Kentucky 68-69
Bad losses
None

Notes: I’m not giving up on Bulldogs, who faced a tough opening weekend, but 0-2 had to push them down the pecking order.

7. North Texas (7-6, 2-0)
Last week:
beat UTEP 63-62, beat UTSA 72-71
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Charlotte, Old Dominion
Quality wins
San Diego 86-83
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 72-82, UT-Arlington (RPI 82) 60-65
Bad losses
UT-Rio Grande Valley 63-75

Notes: After two one-point wins, do have a team of destiny? I’m not sold, but sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart might be the real deal, scoring 51 points in the two games. He is up to 4th in scoring (18.7) behind King, Elmore and MU’s C.J. Burks (20.1).

8. UTSA (5-7, 1-1)
Last week:
beat Rice 79-66, lost to North Texas 71-72
Thursday/Saturday: At Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 85-97, Utah Valley 80-88, Nebraska 94-104
Bad losses
Coastal Carolina 69-83

Notes: Jhivvan Jackson won his third freshman of the week award for scoring 59 points and shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range, but the Roadrunners missed a layup and a tip-in at the buzzer against North Texas.

9. UTEP (5-8, 1-1)
Last week:
lost to North Texas 63-62, beat Rice 80-62
Thursday/Saturday: at Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech
Quality wins
Washington State 76-69
Good losses
Boise State 56-58
Bad losses
New Mexico State 60-80, Appalachian State 72-76

Notes: As if the Miners didn’t have enough problems, leading scorer Keith Frazier has taken a personal leave of absence.

10. Southern Miss (3-8, 0-1)
Last week:
lost at Marshall 85-66, lost at WKU 66-82
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. UTEP, UTSA
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Mississippi State 64-70
Bad losses
Florida State 45-98, South Alabama 58-69

Notes: The Golden Eagles may have had a tough trip to Huntington, but I saw only 2 players who could contend for playing time in Dan D’Antoni’s rotation.

11. Florida International (4-7, 1-0)
Last week:
beat FAU 58-57
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. MTSU, UAB
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Elon 87-95
Bad losses
Stetson 64-70, Hartford 72-79, James Madison 67-76

Note: Brian Beard Jr. hit 2 free throws in the final minute and Trejon Jacob ended the game with a steal. Panthers will need all their lack-of-atmosphere advantage they can muster this week.

12. Florida Atlantic (3-7, 0-1)
Last week: 
lost to FIU 57-58
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. UAB, MTSU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Arkansas State 63-64, South Florida 59-60, Texas Tech 54-90, Towson 52-76, Minnesota 60-95

Note: How often are you going to lose to FIU and gain a spot in any ranking? The reason is one spot below …

13. Charlotte (3-8, 0-1)
Last week:
lost to Old Dominion 58-89
Thursday/Saturday:
at North Texas, Rice
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
James Madison 82-87, Chattanooga 50-64, South Florida 76-78

Notes: You have to be banished to the bottom after trailing 42-16 at halftime and giving up 89 to ODU. This sets up Saturday’s pillow fight with Rice.

14. Rice (1-12, 0-2)
Last week:
lost to UTSA 66-79, lost to UTEP 62-80
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Old Dominion, Charlotte
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Eastern Kentucky 72-73, UT-Rio Grande Valley 67-69, Texas State 66-74, UTSA 66-79, UTEP 62-80

Note: Charlotte/Rice winner might finish 1-17 in league play.

BOX SCORE: Marshall 85, Southern Miss 66

Here’s the official box score, provided by Herdzone.com.

Official Basketball Box Score
Southern Miss vs Marshall
12/28/17 7 p.m. ET at Huntington, W.Va. (Cam Henderson Center)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VISITORS: Southern Miss 7-7, 0-1 C-USA
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 DAVIS,Eddie......... f  3-5    1-1    1-2    2  1  3   2   8  1  1  1  2  17
01 EDWARDS,Cortez...... g  9-13   0-2    0-2    0  4  4   3  18  1  4  0  4  36
02 RICHARDSON,D'Angelo. g  3-8    1-3    0-0    0  2  2   3   7  1  2  0  0  27
05 GRIFFIN,Tyree....... g  8-14   0-0    3-6    0  3  3   1  19  6  5  0  4  35
20 HOLLAND,Kevin....... g  1-5    0-2    0-0    0  3  3   2   2  1  1  0  1  33
00 MAGEE,Dominic.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  1  0   8
03 GILL,Rodney.........    0-0    0-0    0-2    0  0  0   0   0  1  0  0  0   3
10 CONLEY,Josh.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   3
11 DRAINE,LaDavius.....    3-4    1-2    0-0    0  2  2   0   7  0  0  0  0   3
12 ROWE,Tim............    0-4    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   4   0  1  1  1  0  14
21 HAMPTON,Anfernee....    2-6    0-1    1-2    2  3  5   0   5  0  1  1  2  18
30 WEATHERSPOON,Clay...    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   1   0  0  0  0  0   3
   TEAM................                            3  3
   Totals..............   29-59   3-12   5-14   4 22 26  17  66 12 15  4 13 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-30 33.3%   2nd Half: 19-29 65.5%   Game: 49.2%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-7  28.6%   2nd Half:  1-5  20.0%   Game: 25.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-4  75.0%   2nd Half:  2-10 20.0%   Game: 35.7%    4


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Marshall 10-4, 1-0 C-USA
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
11 Penava, Ajdin....... f  7-9    1-2    3-4    6  9 15   3  18  4  4  4  2  32
50 Mijovic, Milan...... f  0-3    0-0    2-2    1  5  6   2   2  1  1  1  0  19
13 West, Jarrod........ g  5-11   4-7    1-2    0  2  2   0  15  2  5  0  2  31
23 Watson, Rondale..... g  8-13   2-5    2-2    0  1  1   2  20  1  1  0  2  29
33 Elmore, Jon......... g  5-15   1-8    2-4    3  5  8   0  13 11  3  0  1  40
01 Koljanin, Dani......    2-4    0-1    0-0    1  1  2   1   4  3  0  0  0  15
03 Williams, Jannson...    2-6    1-5    2-2    0  5  5   0   7  0  2  2  1  18
04 Villers, Christian..    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0   3
05 Reed, Marcus........    0-1    0-1    1-2    1  1  2   0   1  0  0  0  0   3
32 Bledsoe, Phil.......    2-3    1-2    0-0    1  0  1   2   5  0  0  0  0  10
   TEAM................                         3  1  4
   Totals..............   31-67  10-32  13-18  16 31 47  10  85 22 16  7  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-35 40.0%   2nd Half: 17-32 53.1%   Game: 46.3%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-18 27.8%   2nd Half:  5-14 35.7%   Game: 31.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  2-2  100 %   2nd Half: 11-16 68.8%   Game: 72.2%    3


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Officials: Raymond Styons, Jeb Hartness, Les Jones
Technical fouls: Southern Miss-None. Marshall-TEAM.
Attendance: 5537
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Southern Miss.................   25   41  -   66
Marshall......................   35   50  -   85

Points in the paint-USM 38,MAR 40. Points off turnovers-USM 20,MAR 16.
2nd chance points-USM 6,MAR 20. Fast break points-USM 10,MAR 2.
Bench points-USM 12,MAR 17. Score tied-3 times. Lead changed-3 times.
Last FG-USM 2nd-00:47, MAR 2nd-01:19.
Largest lead-USM by 5 1st-17:32, MAR by 24 2nd-06:52.
USM led for 03:14. MAR led for 33:37. Game  was tied for 03:09.

In previous years, I have written a column just before conference play begins, offering a ranking/prediction on how teams shape up. I will take the prediction aspect out of it here and give you my ranking.

As in recent years, the top half of Conference USA is respectable enough to blow up your brackets, but the bottom half is wretched. You’ll see that here.

I will use RPIs as a starting point in listing “quality wins,” “good losses” and “bad losses.” I will begin with wins over top-150 teams and close losses to top-125 teams and go from there, adding and deleting as it makes sense. Losses to over-200 teams are listed, perhaps with mitigating comments, and routs to anybody can be listed.

I sure as heck am not ranking the teams by RPI — Alabama-Birmingham is listed at 244 and Florida Atlantic at 188? C’mon, man!

Important: Records are updated after Thursday’s play, and are against Division I teams only. Marshall is 9-4, but that includes a win over Concord. The rankings will be shuffled next week.

1. Middle Tennessee (7-4)
Saturday: at UAB
Quality wins
Murray State 72-67, Vanderbilt 66-63, Ole Miss 77-58, Princeton 69-67
Good losses
Auburn 70-76, Belmont 63-69, USC 84-89. Miami 81-84
Bad losses
None

Notes: Yes, the Blue Raiders had an MVP candidate fall out of the sky. Nick King is a graduate transfer from Alabama who was a transfer from Memphis. The 6-7 forward missed the final 27 games last season due to an lung infection, but he’s playing quite nicely now — 23.3 points per game (2nd in league), 7.0 rebounds (8th), .528 FG percentage (12th), .406 3-pt percentage (14th). He has been player of the week three times. … Giddy Potts is in his eighth year in Murfreesboro, winging 3s and stealing passes.

2. Western Kentucky (8-5, 1-0)
Thursday/Saturday:
d. Louisiana Tech 69-68, home vs. Southern Miss
Quality wins
Purdue 77-73 (AP No. 14!), SMU 63-61, Wright State 78-60, Louisiana Tech 69-68
Good losses
Belmont 72-75, Wisconsin 80-81, Villanova (No. 1) 58-66, Missouri State 80-85
Bad losses
Ohio 84-89

Notes: These guys have EIGHT players on the season stat sheet, seven getting double-digit minutes, and they’re still winning! And get this: Three Hilltoppers are outscoring Justin Johnson, who still averages 12.1 points and 8.5 rebounds.
Ohio was 218th RPI at last glance, but was that really a bad loss? With a short roster, this team will tire out at times.

3. Louisiana Tech (7-5, 0-1)
Thursday/Saturday: lost to WKU 68-69, at Marshall
Quality wins
Evansville 63-61
Good losses
Alabama 74-77, Stephen F. Austin 85-83, Western Kentucky 68-69
Bad losses
None

Notes: This may be a “habit” pick. The Bulldogs’ last victory came over No. 154 IPFW on neutral floor.

4. Marshall (9-4, 1-0)
Thursday/Saturday: d. Southern Miss 85-66, home vs. Louisiana Tech
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Xavier (AP No. 6) 77-81
Bad losses
Morehead 83-86

Notes: The schedule is dampened by teams having down years: UT-Martin (313), N.C. Central (322), Akron (254), Chattanooga (256), Toledo (186) and Ohio (218). That slate usually has better pedigree … But with three players of the week and two national stat leaders, I’m playing the “homer card” until somebody proves otherwise. La Tech will be a nice test, for sure.

5. UAB (7-4)
Saturday:
home vs. Middle Tennessee
Quality wins
Memphis 71-56
Good losses
Auburn 80-85, Buffalo (RPI 42! Huh?) 91-96
Bad losses
Richmond 50-63

Notes: Memphis is 169, but is 9-3 and besides, any win over Memphis is a good win to me.

6. Old Dominion (9-3)
Saturday:
home vs. Charlotte
Quality wins
Dayton 75-67, Towson (hey, RPI 53) 57-54
Good losses
VCU 75-82, William & Mary 77-79 (halfcourt shot at buzzer)
Bad losses
None

Notes:

7. North Texas (6-6, 1-0)
Thursday/Saturday:
d. UTEP 63-62, at UTSA
Quality wins
San Diego 86-83
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 72-82, UT-Arlington (RPI 82) 60-65
Bad losses
UT-Rio Grande Valley 63-75

Notes: Here is your first indictment of the league, the Lean Green at No. 7. Must be the excitement over the C-USA tournament coming to Frisco. … I deleted a 75-63 loss to Georgetown, a 10-1 team from that Big East that is somehow at 216, and also deleted a 63-49 loss to No. 240 Georgia Tech.

8. UTSA (5-6, 1-0)
Thursday/Saturday:
d. Rice 79-66, at North Texas
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 85-97, Utah Valley 80-88, Nebraska 94-104
Bad losses
Coastal Carolina 69-83

Notes: You may notice you will not see too many “quality wins” listed from here on down. … Roadrunners are No. 2 in the league in scoring (87.2), two points behind the Herd, and Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Jones have combined for five freshman of the week honors.

9. UTEP (4-8, 0-1)
Thursday/Saturday:
lost to North Texas 63-62, home vs. Rice
Quality wins
Washington State 76-69
Good losses
Boise State 56-58
Bad losses
New Mexico State 60-80, Appalachian State 72-76

Notes: I should send the Miners downward for having a coach quit in mid-December, but Tim Floyd leaving is a positive development. At least in my eyes. … Miners were swept by New Mexico State. … I’m throwing No. 151 Washington State into the “quality win” category.

10. Southern Miss (3-7, 0-1)
Thursday/Saturday:
lost to Marshall 85-66, at WKU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Mississippi State 64-70
Bad losses
Florida State 45-98, South Alabama 58-69

11. Florida International (3-7)
Saturday:
home vs. FAU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Elon 87-95
Bad losses
Stetson 64-70, Hartford 72-79, James Madison 67-76

Note: In a fit of desperation, I ranked the Panthers based on individual scorers: Trejon Jacob (16.5, ninth), Eric Lockett (15.8, 12th) and Brian Beard Jr. (15.2, 14th). It’s a lousy way to conduct business, but what can I do? Elon as a good loss is a reach, but the Phoenix is 107th in the RPI.

12. Charlotte (3-7)
Saturday:
at Old Dominion
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
James Madison 82-87, Chattanooga 50-64, South Florida 76-78

Notes: The 49ers fell to 3-6 after pulling down a mighty two rebounds against the Mocs, a result that prompted athletic director Judy Rose to pull the trap door. It’s been a tough time in football and basketball for those folks.

13. Florida Atlantic (3-6)
Saturday:
at FIU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Arkansas State 63-64, South Florida 59-60, Texas Tech 54-90, Towson 52-76, Minnesota 60-95

Note: I want dearly to put the Owls on the bottom, but they’re not even the worst Owls in the league.

14. Rice (1-11, 0-1)
Thursday/Saturday:
lost to UTSA 79-66, at UTEP
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Eastern Kentucky 72-73, UT-Rio Grande Valley 67-69, Texas State 66-74

Note: These Owls beat Northwestern State, if you’re wondering.

B-squad Tom Bragg checking in. With Doug Smock in New Mexico covering Marshall’s New Mexico Bowl win against Colorado State, I was in Huntington on Saturday for Herd hoops.

An 8 p.m. tip combined with an overtime game and what some might consider a somewhat early print deadline meant my game story was a bit rushed. Here are some items and observations you won’t find in the print edition of the Sunday Gazette-Mail.

D’Antoni postgame

In my rush at deadline, I had to miss Dan D’Antoni’s postgame press conference. Fortunately for us, the fine folks at Marshall post the video to YouTube.

And for the sake of completeness, here is Marshall’s video of our interview with Jon Elmore and Ajdin Penava.

 

Penava goes off

Marshall's Ajdin Penava (11) throws down a dunk during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)
Marshall’s Ajdin Penava (11) throws down a dunk during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

Danny wasn’t kidding. Penava’s stat line on Saturday against the Bobcats was bonkers. The junior from Bosina and Herzgovina shot 10 of 13 from the floor, 3 for 4 from distance, 10 of 11 at the foul line, grabbed 15 rebounds, scored 33 points and had nine blocks. And three steals! He was all over the place for the Herd and when he wasn’t on the floor Marshall could feel it. Elmore’s triple-double (more on that later) was great and C.J. Burks (more on him later also) played a fantastic game with 31 points, but Penava was the big difference maker against the Bobcats. Certainly his most complete game in a Marshall uniform (and if we’re being honest, one of the most complete games in MU basketball history).

Jon Elmore: still ballin’

Marshall's Jon Elmore (33) makes a behind the back pass to teammate Milan Mijovic (50) during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)
Marshall’s Jon Elmore (33) makes a behind the back pass to teammate Milan Mijovic (50) during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

Jon Elmore was not Jon Elmore in the first half Saturday. At the break, the junior from Charleston was 2 of 7 shooting (both 3-pointers) and had not been to the foul line for a total of just six points. He said himself that he wasn’t quite on at times against Ohio.

Then in the second half, the Elmore we’re used to seeing showed up. His shooting numbers still were not great – finishing 4 of 12 and not making any 3-pointers in the second half – but he was able to get to the foul line (he finished 10 of 10 at the stripe after zero attempts in the first half). He grabbed 10 rebounds and tallied 10 assists to register, according to Marshall Sports Information after the game, the fifth triple-double in Herd hoops history.

Not bad for an off night.

If there was a glaring bad stat on Marshall’s ledger, it was Elmore’s team-high seven turnovers. Still, another all-time type performance from a Herd player Saturday.

Big game Burks

Marshall's C.J. Burks (14) drives the lane on Ohio's Mike Laster (24) during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)
Marshall’s C.J. Burks (14) drives the lane on Ohio’s Mike Laster (24) during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

I have only seen a handful of live C.J. Burks games since his days on the Hedgesville state championship team, and I found myself thinking, “Damn, C.J. Burks is smooth.” on more than one occasion Saturday. The Martinsburg native was gunning against Ohio, taking a team-high 22 shots (connecting on 12 of them). Penava made a point of giving him a shoutout in his comments after the game, including this gem:

C.J. – can I just give credit to him? He lost a tooth and he still came back and played. His neck was hurting. His head was hurting. He may have a concussion. I don’t know. It seemed to me like it. I’m not a doctor though.

I can’t remember any major collisions between Burks and any Ohio players, teammates or the floor. For a guy that just dropped 31 points in an overtime win against a major rival, he was noticeably absent for the press conference after the game. It’s worth keeping an eye on him, especially when a teammate is telling the press he thinks he might have a concussion. Still, Burks just dropped 31 on Ohio minus a tooth! Yet, somehow as I was watching the game I got the feeling he was being overshadowed by Paneva and Elmore. That’s a good problem to have if you’re Dan D’Antoni.

 

 

Wild, fun game at the Cam on Saturday played at a pretty high level. Marshall is back at it Tuesday on the road against a really, really good Xavier team.

Bowl game-day blog

Good afternoon/evening Herd fans!

I could not get into this blog program this morning, so I used 280 to give my game prediction on Twitter. I called it Colorado State 45, Marshall 35. Some Herd fans think I’m out of my mind going with that high of a score, but I’d go o-o-over on the 58 over/under.

I am going to track a few stats today:

First-down yardage, both sides. Marshall has had trouble with that from time to time, causing those long situations. (MU 15 for 164 first half)

MU defense on 3rd down on its side of the field. Colorado State converts 50.6%, so the Rams will sustain drives. On the other hand, the Herd defense has been so good on its side of the field, and in the red zone. (2 for 3, first half)

Field position. It might not matter when CSU has the ball, but we know the Herd offense needs to drive 65 yards instead of 80, right?

MU defense, tackles for 1 yard, no gain or a loss. This expands on the “tackle for loss” statistic. (7 in first half)

If you follow me on Twitter, you see what a view we have from the press box today. Really, really nice.

The Marshall football team touched down in Albuquerque on Wednesday morning to prepare for their New Mexico Bowl tilt with Colorado State. Check out Doug Smock’s Periscope session of the event — complete with mariachi band — below:

Grades for MU-Southern Miss game

OFFENSE: D

3 turnovers, with the last one leading to USM’s go-ahead touchdown. That was a bad swing, as Marshall had crossed into USM territory for the 9th of 10 times. Managed only 74 yards rushing, giving it just 114 in 2 weeks. With 3 of 11 on 3rd down, the Herd’s streak of outdoing the opponent in that category.

DEFENSE: C

I expected 150 yards from Ito Smith. I mean, exactly 150. The Herd got torched a few times by Korey Robertson (7-118, 1 TD), and had trouble with Allenzae Staggers (2 TDs) in the end zone. BUT … recovered a fumble to set up a short-field score and forced 5 3-and-out. A very mixed bag there.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Blocked field goal and the killer, the botched snap on the extra point. The ghost of Akron 2004 paid a visit.

QUARTERBACKING: C

If Chase wasn’t 4 of 10 for 48 yards on 3rd down, I’d raise this grade. His 4 touchdowns were all nice plays. One “what the heck was that” interception, though.

COACHING: D

For the 2nd game in a row, they were bound and determined to run in the 4th quarter, whether or not it was working. And no, I’m not flunking the entire staff, so don’t ask.

OVERALL: D

So close to 9-3, yet so far away. But remembering this, you need to take the 7-5, smile and head to the bowl game. This team might be special next year.