Thursday, January 9, 2014

Marshall Basketball: Herd Opens Conference Play with UTSA & UTEP

Marshall opens its Conference USA schedule this week with a Texas two step. The Herd is in San Antonio tonight for a match-up with UTSA before a Saturday night tilt at UTEP.

With ten newcomers on the roster, UTSA (4-9, 0-0) struggled during the non-conference portion of their schedule. Of the Road Runners four wins, only two came against division one competition.

UTSA leading scorer Keon Lewis (15.3 points per game) has missed the Road Runners last three games with concussion like symptoms. His status for tonight’s game in unknown. In Lewis’s absence, guard Devon Agusi has filled the scoring gap. Averaging 11.1 ppg., Agusi scored 20 points in a loss at Arkansas last week. Two other Road Runners, Hyjii Thomas (12.2 ppg) and Jordan Sims (11.2 ppg) also average double-digit points.

As a team, UTSA struggles on offense. They average 69.5 points per game and shoot a paltry .441% from the floor. The Road Runners also struggle sharing the ball, out of 345 division one basketball teams they rank 332nd while only distributing 10.2 assist per game.

Tonight’s tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

UTEP (10-5, 0-0) host Marshall on Saturday amongst a swirl of controversy around its basketball program. On Tuesday the Miners dismissed three players, including leading scorer McKenzie Moore, from the team amid gambling allegations. In addition to Moore, little used reserves Jalen Ragland and Justin Crosgile were also shown the door.

Before this week’s dismissals, UTEP looked like one of C-USA’s better teams. They won ten games in non-conference play including victories over Tennessee, Colorado State, and Washington State.

Without Moore, the scoring burden will fall on swing forward Julian Washburn and freshman Vince Hunter. Last year against Marshall, Washburn started and played 33 minutes, scoring nine points in a 74-63 UTEP win. The Miners top remaining outside threat, Washburn is shooting .368% from three point range. Only 15 games into his college career, Hunter is averaging 10.5 ppg., good for third on the team.

Saturday’s game against the Miners is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. ET.



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