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February 21, 2013
When Marshall plays as it did in Orlando during Wednesday night's 82-70 win at UCF, the Herd can beat anyone in Conference USA.
What Marshall has struggled with, however, is any model of consistency.
All of that has been well documented and discussed at length. Truth is no one knows how to get it all together. If they did, it would have already happened.
UAB can say the same thing.
The Blazers have won three of four coming into Saturday night's game in Huntington. Since beating Marshall on Feb. 9 in Birmingham by 14, UAB has lost at ECU by 13 and defeated Rice at home by 23 Wednesday.
Figure that one out.
The two teams, who mirror one another, square off at the Henderson Center Saturday at 7 PM. Despite all the struggles and frustrations, the possibility of getting a Top 5 seed and a bye in the C-USA Tournament is within reach.
Marshall shot well, distributed the scoring well, and defended well in the win at UCF. Marshall led at one point, 71-49. Dennis Tinnon played 29 minutes as a reserve and scored 14 points, grabbing 15 rebounds.
Perhaps having Tinnon coming off the bench is an option. The Herd bench has not been particularly strong this year, so a spark instead of a letdown when the first substitution is made could be one of head coach Tom Herrion's adjustments.
Elijah Pittman didn't settle for three's, making 3-of-5 three's but also making 4-of-6 shots from inside the arc.
In fact, the Herd took 16 three's, an acceptable amount. The Herd shot 54.2 percent from the field.
The stat of the game though was interesting. UCF had no baskets from outside the paint but inside the three point line. Zero. No mid-range game against a Herd team that outrebounded the Knights, 42-32, equaled a win.
The first meeting with UAB was nothing like that.
The Blazers shot 48 percent, scoring 12 buckets from outside the paint but inside the three point line. UAB shot a scorching 56.3 percent from three-point range. Robert Williams and Jordan Swing combined to make 6-of-9 three's. Rod Rucker scored 18 points around the basket.
In other words, Marshall neither defended the three nor the interior.
Marshall was outrebounded by nine. The Hyde version of the Herd lost its identity. UAB saw the bad side of Marshall.
In a season where the NCAA Tournament is only reachable by winning the league, the Herd has nothing to lose but trying to find consistency to play the game at a high level, rather than playing the opponent.
Ryan Epling is an analyst with Herd Nation. Comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged on the Old Fairfield forum.