Marshall (14-9) at U-C-F (17-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: BHSN. Home Record: Marshall 10-3, UCF 12-1. Away Record: Marshall 4-5, UCF 3-4. Neutral Record: Marshall 0-1, UCF 2-1. Conference Record: Marshall 5-4, UCF 6-3. Series Record: Marshall leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights try to win their third straight game tonight when they host the Marshall Thundering Herd in Conference USA action.
Marshall started the season as one of C-USA's best teams, getting out to a 13-4 mark. The Thundering Herd have been reeling lately however, losing five of their last six to fall to fifth place in the conference standings. Their latest setback came at Tulsa on Saturday, 79-70.
UCF has also enjoyed a successful season and is just a game and a half behind Southern Miss for first place in the conference. The Knights have won two straight after losing back-to-back conference games, with its latest triumph coming in a 59-52 final over SMU on Saturday.
Marshall won the first meeting against UCF this season in nail-biting fashion, 65-64, behind a pair of DeAndre Kane free throws with 1.4 seconds left in regulation. The Herd have won two of the last three matchups and hold the upper hand in the all-time series, 8-5.
Though Marshall's offense has been effective (69.3 ppg), there haven been defensive lapses that have cost the team dearly, and the team comes into this bout allowing 65.4 ppg (ninth in the league) behind an average field goal percentage yield of .444 (last in C-USA). The defense disappointed yet again in Saturday's loss to Tulsa, which is one of the league's least effective offenses, as the Golden Hurricane tallied 79 points on 55.6 percent field goal shooting. The Herd didn't help themselves at the offensive end, shooting just 40 percent from the field, and making good on only 3-of-13 three-point attempts. Kane and Damier Pitts led the way in defeat, scoring 21 points apiece. Kane (16.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.5 apg) and Pitts (13.4 ppg, 4.5 apg) have paced the Marshall offense all season long, while Dennis Tinnon adds 9.5 ppg and is third in the conference in rebounding (10.2 rpg). Marshall is C-USA's most effective team on the glass, boasting a rebounding margin of +9.0.
UCF's strength lies in its stout defense, which allows opponents to score just 61.3 ppg on 41.2 percent field goal efficiency. Despite a lackluster offensive performance from the Knights in Saturday's game (37.8 percent from the field), they were able to hold on for the win by forcing SMU to shoot just 40.9 percent and 6-of-22 from three-point range. Marcus Jordan UCF by hitting for 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting from long-range. Jordan ranks in the top-10 in C- USA in scoring (15.5 ppg), but does so on just 38.1 percent from the field. Keith Clanton isn't far behind Jordan's scoring pace with 15.1 ppg and he leads the team with 9.1 rpg and 1.8 blocks per game as well. Isaiah Sykes adds 11.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg to the mix and A.J. Rompza dishes out 4.5 apg while coming up with three steals per game. UCF and Marshall are the two least effective three-point shooting teams in the conference, with both squads shooting 30.4 percent from beyond the arc.
UCF has been nearly unstoppable at home and with Marshall struggling worse than it has all season, the Knights should be able to take advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 67, Marshall 60
02/08 10:33:35 ET