Jan. 9, 2009
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall University men's basketball team will play its Conference USA home-opener when it welcomes East Carolina to the Cam Henderson Center. Tip-off between the Pirates and Thundering Herd is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.
Marshall (7-7, 0-1 C-USA) and East Carolina (9-5, 1-0) will meet for the 11th time in history on Saturday. The Herd holds a 6-4 series edge and has won three of the past four games versus the Pirates, including a 34-point win in the last meeting on Feb. 9, 2008, at the Henderson Center. In fact, East Carolina has never defeated Marshall in Huntington (0-5).
Marshall fell to defending C-USA champion Memphis 80-57 on Wednesday in the league opener, posting season-worsts in field goal percentage (28.6 pct) and 3-point percentage (17.6 pct). The Herd, however, committed a season-low nine turnovers which is the least amount of miscues forced by the Tigers all season.
After trailing by just seven points at halftime, Marshall shot just 21.2 percent from the floor after the break while allowing the Tigers to shoot 53.3 percent. Senior Markel Humphrey came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points while Damier Pitts and Tyler Wilkerson netted 11 points apiece.
Marshall has lost its last four conference home-openers, but claimed 12 straight prior to that - which includes its membership in the Mid-American Conference and Southern Conference. Marshall is 13-10 all-time at home in C-USA play and has won nine of its last 13 home contests in league play.
East Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak with a 69-66 victory over visiting Tulane in its C-USA opener on Wednesday. Sophomore guard Jamar Abrams tied his career-high with 10 rebounds in the Pirates' win while senior guard James Legan netted a team-high 15 points. ECU went 27-for-33 from the free-throw line against the Green Wave and out-rebounded TU 40-33.
The senior duo of Sam Hinnant (15.4 ppg) and Legan (13.6 ppg) leads the Pirates in scoring while sophomore guard Brock Young (10.9 ppg) ranks third. Young is the nation's leader in assists with 7.9 helpers per game. Young dished out five assists versus Tulane on Wednesday, but also committed six turnovers in 28 minutes.
As Marshall's lone four-year senior, Humphrey has played six career games versus East Carolina, averaging 11.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 44.2 percent (23-of-52) from the field. An injury forced Humphrey from the first MU-ECU matchup of 2007-08 which caused him to miss the next three games. Junior forward Tyler Wilkerson enjoyed one of the best individual performances in C-USA history in MU's last game versus ECU. He went 12-for-13 shooting for a career-high 25 pts in the Herd's 83-49 win. Wilkerson's 92.3 percent night from the floor stands as the second-highest single-game field goal percentage in league history.
The game will be televised live on CBS College Sports and video-streamed on Herd All-Access, via HerdZone.com. The contest can also be heard on the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network with Steve Cotton (PxP) and Woody Woodrum (color).