Herd Return Home for a ‘Huge Week’

The Marshall University men’s basketball team returns home this weekend to the Cam Henderson Center for an important two-game stretch against UAB and Middle Tennessee. The Herd faces off against UAB on Thursday, and then against Conference USA leaders Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

The Herd is coming off a three-game road trip that began with back-to-back losses to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech. However, the Herd rebounded last Saturday in Bowling Green, Kentucky in an 84-79 victory over rivals Western Kentucky. It was the team’s first Conference USA road win since the Florida trip in early January, when the team defeated Florida International and Florida Atlantic.

Marshall (14-11, 7-5 C-USA) was led by junior guard Jon Elmore’s 32 points in the win over the Hilltoppers last Saturday. Senior guard Austin Loop contributed 20 points, and was able to write his name into the Marshall record books again in the process. Just two weeks after setting the Marshall school record for career three-pointers made, he registered his 1,000th career point last Saturday night.

“Like breaking the career made three’s record, scoring 1,000 points was something I never realized would be a possibility for me,” Loop said. “Not that many people really get to do that.”

The Herd had a 15-point lead at halftime in that game, and held off a late Western Kentucky surge to hold on for a Marshall victory, ending the team’s three game losing streak.

After an important road win, the Herd shifts focus to UAB. The teams meet on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Huntington with the game being broadcasted live on national television on CBS Sports Network. The Blazers (15-11, 8-5 C-USA) defeated the Herd in the team’s previous meeting in Birmingham on Jan. 14, 94-78. However, the Blazers have lost three of their last four, including their latest loss last Saturday, 83-62 at home to Old Dominion.

6’9 junior forward William Lee is the force to watch out for on head coach Robert Ehsan’s team. Lee has started all 26 games for the Blazers, and leads the team with 13.1 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. He leads the team in blocks (62) and steals (24).

Two days later on Saturday, Marshall will face off with C-USA power and conference leader Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders (22-4, 12-1 C-USA) are in first-place in the conference, and are likely a lock for the NCAA tournament, regardless of whether or not they win the C-USA tournament. Middle Tennessee held Marshall to a season low 57 points in a 69-57 win over the Herd on January 12 in Murfreesboro. Tip-off for Saturday’s matchup is 6 p.m. on American Sports Network.

“It’s a huge week for us as we go forward towards the end of the regular season,” Jon Elmore said. “We want to try and finish the best we can and get as high of a seed going into the conference tournament as we possibly can. We have two really good teams coming to Marshall so we’ve got to step it up and play how I know we can play.”

Patrick O’Leary can be contacted at [email protected]