CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Marshall's basketball team springs back to action tonight, beginning the new calendar year against another team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.Delaware State will be the third MEAC member to visit Cam Henderson Center in a row, visiting for a 7 p.m. contest. Marshall (7-6) has defeated the previous two such foes, Coppin State (69-63) and Savannah State (64-48).Like their conference brethren, the Hornets (5-8) have taken on all comers, almost always on the road. After their trip to Huntington, they travel to Arkansas on Saturday to finish their non-conference schedule.Other Delaware State foes include Pittsburgh (79-50 loss), Maryland (71-43), Penn State (80-76 in overtime), Northwestern (69-50), Eastern Kentucky (84-51) and Illinois State (87-48). The Hornets' biggest wins have come in overtime, over Wagner (73-69) and rival Delaware (73-67).
Marshall's record is a little better, but the win/loss divide is similar. Using an unofficial Rating Percentage Index simulation (CBS Sports), all of MU's wins have come against teams in the 150-285 range, and all but one of the losses have been to teams 106 or higher.The last such loss, 82-54 to Kentucky on Dec. 22, had Thundering Herd players vowing to work overtime during the Christmas break. They need the work, particularly on offense - in games against West Virginia, Cincinnati and Kentucky, the Herd averaged 56.3 points, shot 34.6 percent from the floor and committed 54 turnovers.
More tough numbers: In those three games plus the wins over MEAC members, the Herd is shooting 37.6 percent inside the 3-point arc and has been outscored in the paint 216-114.The return of DeAndre Kane appears to be a week away, as MU doctors and trainers are trying to get him back at the beginning of next week. The use of Kelvin Amayo, the guard who became eligible before the Kentucky game and played at the end, is one of the more interesting subplots.D.D. Scarver has tied Kane as the Herd's leading scorer at 15.0 points per game, followed by Elijah Pittman (14.8) and Dennis Tinnon (11.1). Nigel Spikes has a slight lead over Tinnon in rebounds, 9.2 to 8.9.For Delaware State, 6-foot-4 sophomore Tahj Tate is the only double-figure scorer with 15.7 points per game, and he also leads in assists (33 total). The leading rebounder is 6-7 senior Marques Oliver (6.6), who also leads in steals (21). Tyshawn Bell, a 6-7 sophomore, shoots 43.8 percent from 3-point range as a reserve.BRIEFLY: Marshall is 21-3 in nonconference home games under third-year coach Tom Herrion, including 6-0 this season. ... The Herd is tied for 12th in offensive rebounds in the latest NCAA stat rankings, averaging 15.2. ... Pittman and Scarver have each made a 3-pointer in every game, and the Herd has hit at least one in 692 straight games, a streak believed to be the 11th-longest in Division I ... Frightening free-throw stat: In the last minute of MU wins, the Herd is 23 of 26 from the foul line, 88.5 percent. In all other situations, the number plummets to 168 of 319, 52.7 percent.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.