Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL BASKETBALL ; WKU Shaping Up as Herd Rival

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL BASKETBALL ; WKU Shaping Up as Herd Rival

Article excerpt

WESTERN KENTUCKY AT MARSHALL When: 6 p.m., Saturday TV: WVAH Line: Marshall by 9 1/2

HUNTINGTON - Twelve years into its membership in Conference USA, Marshall just might have cultivated a solid basketball rivalry. As Western Kentucky comes to town Saturday, the pieces are in place, at least on the Marshall end. The Hilltoppers are the closest team the Herd has had in league play since leaving the Mid-American Conference, 281 miles.

The scheduling format has added some spice. As "travel partners, Saturday's game at Cam Henderson Center is the only one of the week for both. MU students have returned for the spring semester, and visiting football prospects will be on hand.

"The way they run partners, it will always be that way, which sets up a great expectation game, said Herd coach Dan D'Antoni. "You have longer to get ready for it - it's almost like football. You've got a week to get ready, you prime yourself, that lends itself well to a big rivalry.

Tipoff is at 6 p.m., with the American Sports Network (Suddenlink 125, Comcast 133, WVAH Channel 11.2 antenna) airing the contest.

Since WKU joined the league 2014-15, Marshall has won three of the five games, winning both in Huntington. Hilltoppers coach Rick Stansbury is making his first visit to Cam Henderson Center, but he knows how tough it is to win there.

"Nobody's stopped them yet, Stansbury said. "Nobody's beat them at home. I just got done watching film - most teams are better at home, but they're one of those teams that are really a lot better at home, because they rely on that 3-point shot so much.

"That ball goes in so much better at home than it does on the road.

Actually, the Herd (11-8, 4-2) is three percentage points better overall on the road, 37.8 percent to 38.1 percent. But in conference play, there is a huge difference in 3-point shooting - 45.2 percent in two home games vs. 35.5 percent in four away games.

The latter number was lowered by last week's futile trip, when the Herd shot a combined 15 of 55 (27.3 percent) against league leader Middle Tennessee and second-place Alabama-Birmingham.

There were other factors that may or may not come into play Saturday night. …

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