GAME NOTES: Coming off their first win of the month the Marshall Thundering Herd will try to get a winning streak going when they host the Arkansas State Red Wolves in a non-league scuffle at the Cam Henderson Center.
Arkansas State was not as fortunate as Marshall in its last outing. The Red Wolves hosted Toledo but still suffered a 78-65 defeat. The loss was the second straight for them and came on the heels of a three-game winning streak. The Red Wolves are still hovering above .500 (5-4), but they are a meager 2-3 on the road. A home contest with Southern Arkansas awaits following this matchup.
A four-game losing streak that dated back to November was snapped by Marshall on Tuesday. However, the 121-57 victory came against NAIA foe Alice Lloyd. Despite the level of competition, the victory counts the same in the standings, where the Thundering Herd find themselves at 5-6. They will be on the road in their next two tilts against South Carolina and Akron.
The last and only meeting between these squads ended in an 81-73 triumph for Arkansas State during the 1988 Kentucky Invitational.
Kirk Van Slyke scored a game-high 22 points but that didn't lead to victory for Arkansas State against Toledo. The Red Wolves also lost despite a 27-3 scoring advantage from beyond the arc. What killed their chances were deficits from the free-throw line (18-4), on the boards (44-25), off turnovers (15-4) and in second-chance points (16-8).
Van Slyke (16.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Melvin Johnson III (16.1 ppg) are the only players on the roster scoring in double figures for Arkansas State. Additionally, they are two of only six players putting in six or more points per game. Van Slyke is on a bit of a hot streak, with at least 20 points in back-to-back games. Johnson is headed in the other direction, as he was held to a season-low two points against Toledo. It was his second game below 10 points in the last three. Brandon Reed (8.3 ppg) could be producing better if he was able to hit his shots more consistently (.350).
Marshall received very little resistance from Alice Lloyd and it resulted in a busy stat sheet. The Thundering Herd nailed 15 3-pointers and shot 64.7 percent from the floor. Ryan Taylor led six players in double figures with 25 points and both Kareem Canty (11 points, 14 assists) and Shawn Smith (18 points, 12 rebounds) had double-doubles.
Although they have been losing more than winning, the Thundering Herd have been a relatively strong offensive team. They are netting 86.2 points per game, which ranks 17th nationally, while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor. However, Marshall failed to reach the 80-point plateau in each of its five games before facing Alice Lloyd. Part of the issue is the absence of leading scorer Elijah Pittman (21.4 ppg), who has missed two games serving a suspension. Canty (17.5 ppg, 7.5 apg) steps in as the primary scorer and Chris Thomas (12.1 ppg) and Smith (12.4, 7 rpg) fill in the gaps.
During its four-game losing streak Marshall did not play at home once. Getting back to the Cam Henderson Center helped against Alice Lloyd and should help them find their offensive rhythm once again on Saturday.
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