The Marshall Thundering Herd have now put together six consecutive victories, and they look like they are poised to defend their Conference USA title. Last year they did it on this floor, and now they have the hot hand in the 2018 hero, Jon Elmore.
On Thursday night they will have in front of them a very determined Southern Miss Golden Eagles squad, which concluded the season by destroying UTSA, and they have proven to be very proficient at keeping their opponents under control with
This is a huge revenge game for Marshall, as they lock horns with USM at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, TX.
ABOUT MARSHALL: It is now six wins in a row for the Thundering Herd, which forced 21 turnovers in beating Rice 82-65 in opening round action of the C-USA tournament. They also surrendering 15 offensive rebounds and sent the Owls to the line 27 times. But this was truly a showcase for Jon Elmore, who scored 32 points, which included six triples. He also had six rebounds and six assists for Marshall, which moved to 19-13 straight-up and 11-7 in league play. It was also their fifth straight covering effort. So will the Herd need scoring from other places to beat Southern Miss? Admittedly, Elmore can get to the point to where he monopolizes the ball, but when he is hot he is hard to stop. He is always on the floor, having played 89.7% of all available minutes (fifth highest in Conference USA), and when you go back five games, he has made 22 of his 45 three-point attempts (49%). So it's logical that he'll keep getting the ball. Yet the guy with the highest individual Offensive Rating on this team is Taevion Kinsey (120.2). He is not a long-distance threat, but the 6-5 freshman is 67% accurate from two-point range. Elmore was recently named to the All-Conference USA first team, with CJ Burks making the third team. Kinsey was named to the all-freshman team.
ABOUT SOUTHERN MISS: It can be argued that the Golden Eagles might be coming into the C-USA tournament with even more momentum than the Herd. Playing in the top "pod" in the league's Bonus Play phase, they held Old Dominion to 34% shooting in a 59-52 victory on the road, and then embarrassed UTSA, holding the all-conference backcourt of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace to just 4-of-29 shooting. They are now 19-11 straight-up and 11-7 in Conference USA action, with seven covering efforts in the last ten games to bring their ATS record to 14-12. There are so many ways the backcourt of Tyree Griffin and Cortez Edwards can beat opponents; in that win over UTSA they scored a combined eight points, which isn't sensational, but Edwards had nine rebounds, while Griffin dished out eleven assists. It's not wonder why they were both named to the All-Conference USA second team. Edwards is a strong defensive presence; enough that he was also named to the C-USA All-Defensive team. When USM beat Marshall earlier in the season, he was a factor in Jon Elmore and CJ Burks having a total of just 20 shot attempts with only 22 total points. Take note of the fact that USM's opponents have attempted 40% of their shots from beyond the three-point line, so they will likely funnel Dan D'Antoni's team out to exactly where they want to be.
1. This will be a battle of tempo, and who can force it. Marshall's Adjusted Tempo is eighth in the nation, while Southern Miss is 314th in that category.
2. Marshall will seek to force turnovers in this game, but that could be a tall order. They are 30th in the nation in defensive turnover percentage, but Southern Miss is 20th-best in terms of protecting the ball, turning it over on only 15.5% of its possessions.
3. These teams played on January 26. Southern Miss got off to a huge early lead and cruised home with a 101-51 victory. Marshall shot 25% from the field, while Southern Miss had 30 assists, a 46-28 rebounding edge and shot 64.6% from the field.
PREDICTION: Southern Miss 71, Marshall 70Bet Now
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