Feb. 17, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON - Memphis' last Conference USA basketball trip to the Henderson Center brought a sense of frustration to the home team.
"It comes to a point where you get tired of losing, and definitely to the same team, constantly," Marshall senior Dennis Tinnon said Saturday night.
The Thundering Herd has played more games this season against quality foes than anyone in C-USA, including Saturday's 71-59 loss to the No. 22 Tigers (22-3, 10-0) before a crowd of 6,116.
Marshall (11-15, 4-7) previously had played Memphis as tough as anyone in the Tigers' 16-game winning streak, the nation's second-longest current run to Akron's 17 in a row. That was a 73-72 Herd loss back on Jan. 26 at FedEx Forum.
On the home boards, the Herd dug a hole and trailed 43-26 at halftime, as Memphis had its way offensively in a 51.4-percent shooting half.
"We weren't getting back quick enough and they were getting a lot of open layups," said Tinnon, whose double-double of 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds made him the most productive among the Herd.
For the Herd, it doesn't get much easier. Marshall has already played 10 games against RPI top 100 clubs, and it will become 11 on Wednesday night when MU visits UCF (17-8, 7-4), which was pounded 73-58 at UTEP on Saturday night.
Marshall downed the Knights, 75-71, at "The Cam" on Feb. 2.
In the loss to the Tigers, Marshall's top scorers were guard DeAndre Kane and forward Elijah Pittman, with 16 points apiece, but the latter struggled with 5-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-10 on 3-pointers.
Marshall hit three of its first four 3-pointers - the Herd had a quick 10-3 advantage -- then went 3-for-20 the rest of the game.
Memphis, headed to the downsizing Big East next season, was deeper and played with more resilience until Marshall gathered itself at halftime. When the Tigers started the second half 1-for-10, Marshall had a chance and made the most of it ... but it wasn't enough. The closest Coach Tom Herrion's
team could get was within five points, at 46-41.
"We had great energy in the beginning of the game," Herrion said. "We just didn't get enough stops in the first half. The second half, we came out and guarded. We were physical. We threw our bodies around. We got the ball inside early.
"When the ball goes in, it energizes the defense. When you put the ball in the basket, you become a better defensive team. We're no different than any other team in America. We were down 17 against an excellent Memphis club. We played pretty perfect. They didn't score through the first media timeout (second half).
"We were playing pretty well defensively, and then we started making some shots. It was too big of a difference to make up against a great team, and we hurt ourselves with some breakdowns."
While Memphis was led by swingman Adonis Thomas' career-first double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds, it was two baskets by star guard Joe Jackson that were real daggers to the Herd - a 3-pointer with 4:38 left to balloon the visitors' lead back to 62-49, and a drive to the bucket with 1:20 left (he missed the free throw on a potential old-style three-point play), for a 69-59 advantage.
Marshall's 38.2 percent shooting - including just 6-of-24 from behind the arc -- wasn't good enough. The Herd was outrebounded and committed 20 turnovers, which damaged the host team's chances too often as Memphis remained one of six Division I teams unbeaten in their leagues (with Miami, Gonzaga, Akron, Norfolk State and Louisiana Tech).
League kingpin Memphis has won 12 of 13 over Marshall since the Herd joined C-USA in 2005-06.
"We've just got to go into every game from the start and compete like we're going to win the game first of all, and then I think everything else will come," Tinnon said. "We've got to play together.
"When they go up 15, 17 points, we've got to stick together. Most times when teams are down 15, 17 points, they (opponents) run away. We stuck together got it down to five.
"We've got to play like that from the start."
Tinnon had his 19th double-double in a Herd uniform, and his 13 boards left him with 587 in his two seasons, tied with senior teammate Nigel Spikes in their careers. When the two get 13 more, they'll be the 23rd and 24th players in Herd history to reach 600 for a career.
And on his 16-point night, Kane passed Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and Herd legend Hal Greer on the MU career scoring list. Kane is No. 19 now, with 1,390 points.
And while those numbers are nice, the one Tinnon and Kane want to improve upon is the Herd victory total, as Marshall's 4-7 league mark is good for a three-way tie for seventh place with UAB and Houston.
Marshall has five regular-season games remaining before the March 13-16 C-USA Tournament at Tulsa.