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Herd back in action vs. ODU this weekend

By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON – After a second halt to Conference USA due to Covid-19 issues, the Marshall Men’s Basketball team hopes to get back to play this weekend with a pair of games at Old Dominion.

Marshall (9-4, 3-3) was unable to host FAU last weekend at the Cam Henderson Center due to positive Covid-19 tests and contact tracing in the Owls program. The Herd earlier lost another league series at the Henderson Center with Charlotte when Marshall was dealing with Covid-19 issues.

Friday and Saturday’s contests at Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Va. both begin at 7pm. Both games will be televised on ESPN+.

Marshall’s last game was played on January 23rd, an 89-72 win at FIU. The Herd has played only one Conference USA game at home, a January 17th 69-67 loss to Western Kentucky.

The Herd is scheduled to host Middle Tennessee next week in Huntington.

Old Dominion (8-4, 4-2) has also had its schedule affected by Covid-19. The Monarchs haven’t played since January 16th, a 61-58 win at Rice. ODU has lost a home series with North Texas and last week’s road series at Western Kentucky, both because of Covid-19 issues in the Monarchs program. ODU resumed practices last weekend.

The Herd and Monarchs have met 16 times and each team has 8 wins in the series.

Coach Jeff Jones is in his 8th season leading the Monarchs and he has a 161-90 record in Norfolk. 

So far this season, ODU has non-conference wins over William and Mary, Northeastern and Norfolk State. The Monarchs dropped non-league games with Maryland and VCU. ODU has split Conference USA series with Rice and FIU and swept a two-game series with FAU.

The Monarchs have three players who average scoring in double figures, led by senior guard Malik Curry at 16.5 points per game. Other double figure scorers are junior forward Kalu Ezikpe (10.3 ppg) and junior guard A.J. Oliver (10.2 ppg). Senior forward Austin Trice is ODU’s top rebounder at 6.8 per game, closely followed by Ezikpe (6.7 rpg).

Old Dominion’s points per game and allowed per game are almost even (68.6 to 68.5). The Monarchs shot just 44% from the field, 29.2% from behind the 3-point line and just over 70% from the free throw line. ODU outrebounds its opponents by nearly 2 boards per contest, but actually commits more turnovers over assists (13 to 12.5).

Junior guard Taevion Kinsey continues to lead Marshall in both scoring and rebounding. Kinsey averages 19.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Jarrod West and sophomore guard Andrew Taylor join Kinsey as double-figure scorers at 12.3 and 10 points per game respectively. Taylor nearly equals Kinsey in the rebound department at 6.7 boards each game.

West continues to lead the Herd in both steals and assists. Senior forward Jannson Williams is Marshall’s top shot blocker, with 25 on the season. 

Marshall outscores its opponents by nearly 8 points per game and shoots 46% per game, 32.7% from behind the 3-point line and 74 and-a-half percent from the free throw line. The Herd is outrebounded by opponents by just over one carom per contest. 

Notes–Marshall hopes to make up its missed home series with Charlotte and FAU prior to the start of Conference USA Tournament play in the second week of March. The first weekend of March has been left vacant on schedules in order to make up postponed series. There is a possibility that Marshall could play four home games this week to make up earlier postponements. Official word on rescheduling could come from Marshall and Conference USA in the next week.