Two of the teams near the bottom of the pack in the Conference-USA will collide tonight when the Marshall Thundering Herd host the Rice Owls at the Cam Henderson Center.
Last year the Thundering Herd pounded Rice to the tune of a 77-54 score, and with that win Marshall pushed its lead in the series to 4-2 all-time.
This season Rice has not enjoyed much success in league play and stumbles into this game with just a 3-7 mark in the Conference-USA. The Owls have dropped three of their last four matchups, including two in a row to UTEP and UAB.
As for the Herd, they have not been much better in league play, boasting just a 4-6 mark. However, the last time Marshall was in action the team claimed that fourth league win with a solid, 78-65 decision over East Carolina.
Rice have been unable to find any consistency at the offensive end of the floor and that has plagued the Owls throughout the season. Rice is producing 67.8 ppg, which isn't terrible, but definitely shows this team has endured its share of ups and downs. However, there are a couple of players that have proven to be solid commodities, such as Arsalan Kazemi and Tamir Jackson. Kazemi is leading the team with 15.9 ppg and 11.6 rpg, while Jackson, who is averaging a team-best 3.6 apg, is also posting 13.0 ppg. The last time Rice was on the court the team actually posted a strong 49.0 percent shooting effort, but that translated into just 68 points and a loss to UAB. Kazemi led the way in the loss with 17 points, while Connor Frizzelle (11.0 ppg) and Jackson finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Jackson also dished out five assists, but finished with seven turnovers as well.
After scoring just 108 combined points in their two previous games, both of which ended in a loss, the Thundering Herd bounced back in a huge way, pouring in 78 points in a victory over East Carolina. Sure the Herd committed 28 turnovers in the game, but outside of their own mistakes Marshall put forth a great effort, shooting 56.8 percent, while also nailing 9-of-18 three-point shots. Damier Pitts, who is registering 15.8 ppg on the season, erupted for 28 points, while Shaquille Johnson (9.7 ppg) posted 14 points off the bench. As for the team's top scorer, DeAndre Kane (15.4 ppg), he finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for Marshall, which on the season is producing 72.9 ppg.
Neither team has been really consistent on the year, which is why both squads are in the lower half of the standings in the conference. However, with that said, look for the Herd to build off their recent win and try to close out the season strong.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 71, Rice 66