GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will try to pick up their first win away from home since Feb. 20, 2012 as they visit Tudor Fieldhouse for a Conference USA bout with the Rice Owls.
The Thundering Herd have lost four games in a row to drop to a 6-13 overall record. Marshall was limited to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor and outscored by 22 points in the second half on Saturday as it dropped a 69-52 decision to Tulsa at home. Coach Tom Herrion's team is 0-8 in true road tests this season and has yet to win a league game in four tries. Due to a handful of departures and the addition of nine newcomers, Marshall has struggled to find a successful style of play this season. It has the third highest scoring average among C-USA schools at 78.1 ppg and the second worst scoring defense in the 16- team league at 75.6 ppg.
Rice is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak that was recently extended with a 58-41 loss at Tulane. The Owls dug themselves into a hole in New Orleans as they hit on only 19.2 percent of their field goal tries in the opening 20 minutes of the contest. They were outplayed throughout the contest as they were outscored in both bench points, 16-6, and points off of turnovers, 18-13. Rice has posted a 3-5 record on its home floor at Tudor Fieldhouse. Coach Ben Braun's squad has been awful on the offensive end and failed to reach the 70- point mark in eight consecutive outings.
Marshall is 7-2 versus Rice in the history of the rivalry. The Herd have won four games in a row over the Owls and are 3-0 all-time at the Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Herd's inability to get stops at the defensive end of the floor was apparent in their last outing. They allowed Tulsa, which averages only 74.4 ppg, to tally 49 points in the second half alone. Freshman guard Kareem Canty had a rough outing while attempting to lead Marshall past Tulsa, netting 12 points and nine assists on just 4-of-18 shooting from the field. Chris Thomas had 14 points while TyQuane Goard brought down eight rebounds and blocked three shots. Canty is posting 16.7 ppg to go along with a 6.6 apg, which is the second highest assists average in the C-USA. Rookie forward Ryan Taylor is second among active players on the roster at 13.5 ppg and Thomas is adding 11.4 ppg.
Austin Ramljak has scored 56 total points in the Owls' four conference games to raise his team-leading scoring average up to 12.6 ppg. The senior guard went 2- of-8 from beyond the arc versus the Green Wave and ranks among the C- USA and national leaders in both 3-pointers made per game and 3-point field goal percentage. Rice has reason to be optimistic for the future due to the strong play of the 6-foot-9, 265-pound freshman Sean Obi. The rookie big man leads all freshman in the league in double-doubles with six after his 12-point and 12-board outing versus Tulane. Obi's ability to contribute at the same high level for the game versus Marshall is uncertain as he injured his wrist in the Tulane game, but he was able to practice throughout the week. Max Guercy runs the show on the offensive end for the Owls and contributes in a variety of ways with 9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 3.7 apg. Starting guard Keith Washington will miss the game while he recovers from a dental fracture.
If Obi is unable to perform as his usual level, Marshall has a great chance of finally earning its first road win. The Herd are much more adept on the offensive end, but they have also allowed some weak opponents to scorch the nets against them. Ramljak could have a big game as he is due for a strong showing after struggling with his accuracy in New Orleans.
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