FACTS & STATS: Site: Cam Henderson Center (3,056) -- Huntington, West Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 7-3, MU 6-4. Away Record: FIU 3-4, MU 1-9. Neutral Record: FIU 1-2, MU 0-1. Conference Record: FIU 3-2, MU 1-5. Series Record: Marshall leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The FIU Panthers take aim at their third win in a row as they visit the Cam Henderson Center for Conference USA action against the Marshall Thundering Herd.
After his team dropped to the .500 mark on the season, coach Anthony Evans led FIU to back-to-back victories over East Carolina (68-64) and Florida Atlantic (66-57). The Panthers are now 3-2 in the C-USA standings and will be looking to find some success on the road, where they have lost four of their last five. Although it has a winning record in league action, FIU has been outscored by 5.2 ppg by its C-USA rivals. The Panthers will finish off their two-game road trip at Charlotte on Saturday.
Tom Herrion's Thundering Herd suffered their fifth loss in six games on Saturday as it was handed a 98-77 setback by Louisiana Tech. The loss was the ninth in 10 true road tests for Marshall, which now owns a 7-14 overall record. The Herd are just 1-5 in the league standings and have not been able to establish a consistent starting lineup due to injuries and suspensions. Marshall has been more successful at home, winning six out of 10 games at the Cam Henderson Center. The Herd have the third highest scoring average among C- USA schools on the season at 77.8 ppg, but have managed to post only 67.8 ppg in league action.
This will be just the second meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Marshall won the first encounter, 88-79, on Nov. 29, 2010 in Huntington.
Tymell Murphy recorded a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds for FIU in its nine-point win over the Owls. Murphy had plenty of support as Dennis Mavin scored 14 points and Jerome Frink added 13 points, nine boards and four steals. Rakeem Buckles also got into the mix with 12 points. The Panthers got off to an excellent start as they sank 63.6 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half and finished the contest with a 43-29 edge in total rebounds. Murphy has been sensational throughout the 2013-14 campaign en route to a team-high 16.4 ppg, which he accompanies with 8.1 rpg and 1.6 blocks per tilt. Buckles is near a double-double average with 13.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg while Mavin (11.1) is a consistent scoring threat.
Marshall's rookie tandem continued to shine in its loss at LaTech over the weekend. Ryan Taylor led the Herd against the Bulldogs with a double-double of 17 and 11 rebounds, while Kareem Canty finished with 16 points. Chris Thomas chipped in with 13 points. Canty is netting 16.7 ppg to go along with a 6.4 apg, which is the second highest assists average in the C-USA. Taylor is second among active players on the roster at 13.9 ppg and Thomas is adding 11.2 ppg in his first season with the program since transferring from the junior college level. The Herd are a very poor free-throw shooting squad, converting just 61.9 percent of their attempts at the charity stripe on the campaign. Marshall is 5-2 when converting more attempts from the charity stripe than opponents and 2-11 when making fewer free throws than the opposition. Its 226 missed opportunities at the charity stripe is the most among Division I programs.
The Herd are going to have trouble containing FIU's aggressive big men. Canty is one of the premier freshmen in the nation, but it is too much to ask the rookie guard to carry Marshall on a regular basis. Herrion has used a different starting lineup in four consecutive games. The Panthers should be able to keep their winning streak alive as long as they prevent the hosts' role players from erupting.