UNC-Wilmington (3-3) at Marshall (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cam Henderson Center (9,043) -- Huntington, West Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: UNCW 3-0, MU 3-0. Away Record: UNCW 0-3, MU 0-2. Neutral Record: UNCW 0-0, MU 1-1. Conference Record: UNCW 0-0, MU 0-0. Series Record: UNC-Wilmington leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will try to protect their house as they host the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks in a non-conference tilt on Saturday.
The Seahawks are riding a two-game winning streak into the Cam Henderson Center. UNCW took down Wofford (49-37) and Hampton (61-60) in the Nations of Coaches Classic to complete its climb back to the .500 mark. After a season-opening win over UNC-Asheville, the Seahawks were blown out three times in a row on the road, although it was against a tough series of opponents in Richmond (101-58), Ohio University (85-47), and Purdue (66-40). Coach Buzz Peterson has some work to do, as his squad is only producing 53.7 ppg on 36.9 percent shooting from the field. UNCW's opposition is averaging 68 ppg and converting 44.2 percent of its field goal attempts. However, those numbers have shown dramatic improvement of the team's last two outings.
Tom Herrion's Thundering Herd are beginning to gain steam as well. After losing a pair of hard-fought games to South Dakota State (78-77) and Hofstra (103-100 2OT) in the 2K Sports Classic, Marshall returned home to defeat Nevada (89-82) and Morehead State (70-67) to improve to 4-3. The Herd managed to take down the Eagles despite scoring 10 points under their season average of 80.7, currently the 22nd-best mark in the NCAA Division I. Marshall is surrendering 73.6 ppg, but is winning its rebounding battles by an average of 6.6 boards per game. This game will be vital for Herrion's squad, as it really needs to build momentum before facing its in-state rival West Virginia.
UNCW holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series versus Marshall. Marshall finally picked up its first win in the head-to-head last season by downing the Seahawks, 69-64, in Wilmington.
Although it did not generate an offensive outburst, the Seahawks played well enough on the defensive end of the floor to outlast Wofford and Hampton. First, UNCW held the Terriers to 39 points on only 29.4 percent field goal shooting. Then it forced the Pirates into 18 turnovers to overcome a 21-of-39 performance at the charity stripe. Senior forward Keith Rendleman is off to a strong start to his final campaign. The North Carolina native registered a double-double with 23 points and 15 boards to will UNCW past Hampton his last time out. He is the only player on the team carrying a double-digit scoring average, as he is leading the way with 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. Unfortunately, Rendleman has very little help as Tanner Miles is second on the team in scoring with only 7.7 ppg.
Marshall was unable to connect on a high rate of its field goals versus Morehead State and finished with just a 33.3 field goal percentage. However, the Herd held a 53-46 advantage in the rebounding battle and outscored the Eagles 28-8 at the free-throw line to hang on for the win. D.D. Scarver scored a team-high 17 points. Nigel Spikes and DeAndre Kane each finished with 13 points and a combined 17 rebounds, while Dennis Tinnon posted a double-double with 12 points and 16 boards. Kane, who leads the team with 16 ppg, went just 5-of-20 from the floor his last time out. Elijah Pittman, Scarver, and Tinnon are all scoring in double digits for the season. Tinnon (9.0 rpg) and Spikes (8.6 rpg) are both effective on the glass.
Many had high hopes for the Thundering Herd this season after their run to the Conference USA Championship game last year. They have played well enough to be 6-1, but lost both games in the 2K Sports Classic in the closing seconds. Marshall should be able to limit what Rendleman can do on the offensive end, which will lead to a victory for the home team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 71, UNC-Wilmington 55
12/01 10:31:53 ET