HUNTINGTON — During Marshall’s 61-50 loss to UAB on Saturday, one number stood out on the stat sheet following the game.
UAB shot 31 free throws in the game while the Herd only went to the line a total of seven times.
A discrepancy of 24 free throws in an 11-point game speaks volumes, as was evidenced in frustration by fans on social media following the contest.
Before anyone cries foul on the part of the officials, however, there are plenty of facts that show the places of blame.
Marshall’s offense has been much improved as of late, but Saturday brought it back to the early-season struggles that led to a 2-6 beginning for the Herd.
The Herd’s assist-to-turnover ratio was in the negative and the team did not knock down open shots, going a paltry 4-of-26 from 3-point range.
Also, Marshall did not rebound well, especially in the second half, which led to foul trouble and several additional opportunities for the Blazers.
UAB out-rebounded Marshall 28-13 in the second half, having as many offensive rebounds as the Herd had defensive boards (8).
The difference? Recognition at halftime.
The score was tied at 24 as the teams went to the locker room and the Blazers came out fixated on one thing: getting to the free throw line.
As Marshall continued its perimeter-based attack with limited results, UAB basically bullied its way to shooting stationary 15-footers with the clock stopped as foul trouble piled on the Herd.
Just how different was it? UAB was in the double-bonus in the second half with over 10 minutes left — nearly three minutes before Taevion Kinsey shot Marshall’s first free throws of the contest with 7:28 remaining.
As UAB adjusted, Marshall’s perimeter-based attack could not find its range and the hole grew deeper.
When Kinsey’s free throws came at that 7:28 mark, Marshall was just 5-of-16 from the field in the second half and UAB’s lead had grown to 13 points.
To his credit, Kinsey recognized the need to attack in the game’s later stages, finishing 6-of-7 from the line en route to a game-high 20 points.
Kinsey was the only player for the Herd to go to the foul line in the loss.
UAB finished 20-of-31 from the line with 20 of those attempts coming before the Herd ever stepped foot to the 15-foot line on account of a resolve to attack the basket and the offensive glass to countered Marshall’s strong defensive presence.
That second-half execution of its plan led to UAB overcoming a statistical oddity in which the Blazers had just one assist for the entire game while giving away 20 turnovers.
For a relatively young Marshall team, it was a lesson that all players can pack with them on the road as they move forward in Conference USA action.