UCF (15-5) at Marshall (9-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cam Henderson Center (9,043) -- Huntington, West Virginia. Television: CSS, Bright House Sports Network. Home Record: UCF 11-3, MU 8-3. Away Record: UCF 4-2, MU 0-7. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, MU 1-2. Conference Record: UCF 5-1, MU 2-4. Series Record: Marshall leads, 8-6.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights visit the Cam Henderson Center for the final time as a member of Conference USA on Saturday for a league bout with the Marshall Thundering Herd.
This will be the 15th meeting in the rivalry between these schools. UCF, which is set to depart for the Big East after this season, trails Marshall 8-6 in the all-time series. The teams split their home-and-home season series last season as each side successfully defended their own court.
The Knights became one of the Thundering Herd's biggest rivals two seasons ago when Donnie Jones departed Huntington to take over the helm of UCF's program in Orlando.
The Knights, who are ineligible for postseason action due to NCAA sanctions, may be asking what could have been at the end of the 2012-13 season. UCF picked up its fourth-straight victory on Wednesday as it took down Tulane, 58-50, in the Big Easy. The triumph improved the team to a 15-5 overall mark including a 5-1 C-USA record, which puts the Knights just one game out of first place. Senior forward Keith Clanton leads the team and is fifth in the Conference USA with 16.2 points per game. His 9.4 rebounding average is the third best in the league. Isaiah Sykes also adds noticeable scoring punch with 15.9 points per game.
Tom Herrion's Thundering Herd have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the C-USA this season after their loss in the C-USA Tournament Championship last season had many projecting them to finish near the top in 2012-13. Marshall has underachieved, as its 68-57 loss to SMU at home earlier this week dropped it three games below the .500 mark and to a 2-4 league standing. The double-digit setback at home to the Mustangs came one game after a one-point loss to the mighty Memphis Tigers.
UCF is the middle of the road in the C-USA in both scoring offense (71.5) and scoring defense (64.2). It has managed to knock off some notable programs in South Florida, Belmont, and UAB this season despite having the second worst turnover margin (-2.3) in the C-USA. Sykes led the way with 20 points, nine boards, four assists, three blocks, and the same number of steals at Tulane on Wednesday. Kasey Wilson (12 points) and Clanton (eight points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) also had notable performances in the victory.
Marshall's DeAndre Kane, a Preseason All-C-USA First Team member is first on the squad and 10th in C-USA in scoring (14.9). He also ranks first in assists (6.9), second in assists/turnover ratio (1.90), second in minutes played (36.12) and tied for third in steals (1.82). The junior guard went 5-of-14 from the floor en route to a 13-point and five-assist finish. Elijah Pittman is netting a second-best 14.5 ppg, while D.D. Scarver (13.7 ppg) and Dennis Tinnon (10.3 ppg, 9.2 rpg) give Herrion's squad a few more playmakers.
The four double-digit scorers for Marshall have not been able to make the team into a winner yet, but the Herd have shown flashes of potential along the way. They have enough talent to defeat UCF, but the Knights have been much more reliable. Sykes and Clanton should have a field day against Marshall's suspect defense, but there is no telling whether the streaky Thundering Herd will be able to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 72, Marshall 65
02/02 10:35:55 ET