HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Forget about road woes. The short walk to Cam Henderson Center is becoming a long hike for Marshall players.The Conference USA wars don't get any easier today, when Tulsa arrives for a brunch-time bout with the Thundering Herd. Tipoff is at noon at Cam Henderson Center, with CBS College Sports Network serving up the action to its national digital cable audience.Does the Thundering Herd really want the exposure? Will its play send the audience, however large it may be, running for the exits - much like the audiences at the Henderson Center? Can the Herd do something about its moribund state?Tulsa (7-10, 2-1), coached by Kansas great Danny Manning, is a poor source of mercy. Forget about the Golden Hurricane's 10-loss season, for it is misleading.
The nonconference results were unimpressive, including a loss to Oral Roberts and a split with Texas Christian. But really, this team has been rolled just once, by a tough Wichita State team.And the Hurricane could be, should be, heading into Huntington undefeated in the league with wins over contenders Southern Mississippi and Charlotte. A 90-86 overtime loss Thursday night against the latter is more painful than the score indicates.That's because Tulsa held a seven-point lead, 73-66, with 57 second left. One turnover, three missed free throws and four Charlotte layups later, the game was headed into overtime, where the 49ers never trailed."At one point coming down to the end of regulation, I thought we had control of the game," Manning said afterward. "But Charlotte took control of it, grasped it and didn't let go."Shaquille Henderson, a 6-3 guard, scored 26 points while Rashad Ray, a 5-11 guard, added 19 - both career highs. Season-wise, those are two of the Hurricane's three double-figure scorers, with 6-3 guard James Woodard leading with 14.4 points and a 5.9 rebounds per game, also a team high. Smith averages 12.4 points and Harrison 11.2. All three are sophomores.
At this point, Marshall (6-12, 0-3) would love to have an overtime league loss on its ledger. The three losses have come by a combined 34 points, but the maximum deficits are much more damning - 12 against Texas-San Antonio, 18 against Texas-El Paso and 18 Thursday night against North Texas.As one could imagine, the Herd's numbers aren't pretty - 35.6 percent from the floor in those three games, 16 of 70 from 3-point range 22.9 percent and 28 assists vs. 37 turnovers. Kareem Canty and Ryan Taylor have scored 53 percent of the team's points, bolstered by the 74 percent against North Texas. Not exactly a deep attack.The Herd had roughly 39 hours from the end of the North Texas game to find something close to a solution, a way to make home court an advantage."As painful, as hard as it is, you've got to turn the page," Marshall coach Tom Herrion said. "You've got to have that short-term memory."BRIEFLY: Despite going 20 of 29 Thursday night, the Herd has slipped back to the bottom of the 16-team league in free-throw percentage, .605. It is 14th in 3-point percentage (.314) and rebounding margin (minus-0.8), and defensive rebounding percentage (.654). ... Tulsa is third in assists (14.24 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.29).Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter. com/dougsmock.