Feb. 13, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – DeAndre Kane disproved a basketball axiom on Wednesday night.
You really don’t have to shoot to score big.
On a team hungry for victory, Kane’s playmaking was the difference as Marshall outlasted Rice in a Conference USA battle, 71-70, at the Henderson Center.
Until the junior guard turned a right-side screen-and-go with big man Nigel Spikes into a three-point play with an and-one conversion with 34 seconds left, Kane was 1-for-2 from the floor.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Pittsburgh could have passed Basketball Hall of Famer and Herd legend Hal Greer for 19th place on the school’s career scoring list with a nine-point night. Instead, Kane scored only five, to go with 10 assists and four rebounds in 40 minutes.
“For him to take only three shots … he should have had 15, 17 assists,” Herd Coach Tom Herrion said. “You talk about impacting a game … He’s going to be one of the all-time leading scorers in school history. He takes three shots and we shoot 51 percent.”
Rice (5-19, 1-9) played man-to-man on only one possession – the one that Kane made the biggest possession of the game, giving Marshall (11-14, 4-6) at 70-65 lead, matching its widest edge of the game from the first half.
“They went man for the first time,” Herrion said. “We held and ran clock and went with about 12 on the shot clock. We like to run that play often versus man-to-man, but we would not run it if they were to stay in the zone.
“Nigel did a great job with the screen, he is so good at that, and of course Kane finishing and making the free throw was big for us.”
Rice Coach Ben Braun credited Kane, too.
“We were thinking about a foul at that point,” said Braun, who has 608 career wins and took eight teams to NCAA Tournaments at Eastern Michigan and Cal, where he also win an NIT title. ‘We thought that maybe you give up one for two and then we had a couple come down, but we didn’t want so much time to come off of the clock.
“DeAndre was already at the rim and it was too late so we had to make a decision. He makes such big plays, and that was a huge play for them. When a player gets 10 assists for the night, that’s pretty good basketball, and I admire that.
“DeAndre had five points, but he had 10 assists. He made some things happen for his team.”
The Owls were giving up about 4 inches per man, and Coach Ben Braun’s zone helped keep his C-USA basement-dwellers in the game. Marshall had just enough good numbers, however, like a 10-for-11 finish at the foul line in the final 8:47, after coming into the game last nationally among 347 Division I teams in free throw percentage (.571).
Rice had five double-figure scorers, but Marshall made only 11 turnovers and won the boards 31-25, as Herrion got some of that consistency he’s been seeking – six Herd players had four or more rebounds. And while MU’s 7-of-21 shooting from 3-point range was an improvement of its 25 percent over the previous four games, the Herd was 16-of-24 inside the arc.
Marshall had four double-scorers, topped by forward Elijah Pittman’s 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Guard D.D. Scarver scored 17, including 4-of-10 on threes.
Senior Dennis Tinnon, who sat for the final 13 minutes of the first half with two fouls, had six of his 11 points in the final 9:42, including two spin-move hoops in a 40-second stretch that took the hosts from a 59-56 deficit to a 60-59 lead.
“That’s what I was saying,” Kane said when asked why the Herd seems to make life so difficult on itself. “but they came here and fought hard. No team is going to lay down. For us, it’s just good to come away with a win.”
After a game that included 10 ties and 21 lead changes, 14 in the second half -- the last of those when Marshall took a 62-61 edge with 3:35 left on Spikes conversion of a one-and-one – it doesn’t get any easier.
No. 22 Memphis (21-3, 10-0), the C-USA leader after routing UCF, 93-71 on Wednesday night, visits the Henderson Center for an 8 p.m. tip Saturday. The Tigers’ 15-game win streak is the second longest in Division I to Akron’s 16 in a row.
It’s the first ranked Memphis club to visit “The Cam” since Coach John Calipari brought the eventual NCAA runner-up Tigers here as a No. 2 team for a 68-45 win in January 2008.
That game included the all-time Herd scoring low in its home arena of 32 seasons. Marshall doesn’t get many ranked clubs to visit the Henderson Center, the Herd usually having to go on the road or to a neutral site to face poll-sitters.
The last MU home win over a ranked club was by then-Coach Greg White’s Herd over No. 23 Wake Forest, 73-66, in December 1997.
In three of the last four games, Kane has had 12, 11 and 10 assists, and is averaging 7.3 per game, ranking sixth nationally. He’s played every minute in the last four games, too. Against the Owls, he really didn’t look often for his shot, simply trying to occupy one defender at the top of the Rice zone.
“It plays a little part,” Kane answered when asked whether his reluctance to shoot is perhaps rooted in trying to help others lift the Herd from its struggles. “Tonight, these guys were just making plays. Elijah was making big shots. Dennis made a big shot, getting a rebound off a missed free throw (of his own). D.D. was hitting shots. Nigel played strong in the second half.
“It’s just not me. I’m out there trying to move the ball to the open person. The offense has been struggling. I just wanted us to attack the zone and I thought that was the best way we could do it.”
Braun said Kane’s play was the difference in a nail-biter.
“We did some things that I think kept Marshall at bay, but in the end, their size advantage was a factor,” The Owls’ coach said. “They got to the foul line. Their shooting percentage hasn’t been great, but I always tell our team, I’d rather get to the foul line and miss a few, than to make all of your shots, and get to the foul line only a couple times.
“I think DeAndre had a lot to do with that.”