Herd tops FAU, is 4-0 in C-USA
HUNTINGTON — C.J. Burks scored 30, Jon Elmore hit for 29 points and the Marshall Thundering Herd moved to the top of the Conference USA men’s basketball standings Thursday night.
Marshall (11-6) is 4-0 in C-USA men’s basketball after defeating Florida Atlantic University, 96-84, in a Cam Henderson Center home game played for an announced crowd of 6,196 spectators. The Herd took over first place in C-USA with its victory and Middle Tennessee winning at home against UTSA, 89-86.
The Herd holds a one-half game lead in the standings ahead of idle North Texas (16-2, 4-1) and UTSA (10-8, 4-1).
“Their all-league guards played like all-league guards,” FAU head coach Dusty May said. “They took advantage of our weaknesses.”
The Owls slipped to an 11-7 season record and are 2-3 in the league.
Burks, a 6-foot-4 senior averaging 16.4 points, bounced back from a subpar performance of only four points last weekend when Marshall posted a one-point win against Western Kentucky. He connected on 8 of 14 shots, was 2-for-6 on 3-point attempts and cashed all 12 of his free throws while adding five rebounds, dishing six assists and making three steals.
“Everybody has a bad night,” Burks said about his performance against Western Kentucky. “I just keep moving forward.”
Elmore topped his 19.1 scoring average. The 6-3 senior point guard was 8-for-17 shooting, went 4-for-9 from
three and sank 9 of 13 foul shots. He also had four rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
The Herd was consistent from the field, hitting 48 percent of its field goal attempts in each half, and shot 36 percent on 3-pointers (9-for-25). The “athletic ball” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni wants was moving well, leading to a high percentage of 17 assists on 29 field goals.
“Any time we get up around 35 percent from the three-point line and Jon and C.J. are going, it’s tough,” Marshall head coach D’Antoni said. “It’s tough on our opponent.”
FAU made enough shots to stay in the game. Marshall had its biggest lead at 78-64 with 8:08 left to play and the Owls inched closer.
Michael Forrest pumped in 32 points for FAU and the 6-foot freshman guard’s sixth 3-point field goal (6-for-10) got his team as close as 85-80 and there was still 1:57 remaining. Elmore worked inside for a basket and completed a three-point play at the foul line for an 88-80 advantage at 1:41.
FAU’s 6-9 Simeon Lepichev scored on a layp to keep FAU with 88-82 with 1:27 to go.
Herd players Jarrod West, Elmore and Burks combined to sink eight consecutive free throws inside the final minute.
“It was a game of runs, but we ultimately had the biggest run toward the end,” Elmore said.
The Owls coughed the basketball up 21 times on turnovers, compared to the Herd’s 11, and Marshall scored 32 as a result of FAU’s miscues. D’Antoni said the Herd defense was good and points off turnovers were the difference in the game.
Ma rsha ll a lso had 6-9 sophomore forward Jannson Williams with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals and 6-9 sophomore Mikel Beyers coming off the bench to score nine and pull down three rebounds.
Herd freshman Taevion Kinsey, a 6-5 guard playing a forward position, entered the game with zero turnovers in the first three conference games and committed two, but also netted six points and snagged six rebounds.
Marshall completes a three-game homestand at 7 p.m. Saturday against FIU (12-6, 3-2) that won Thursday at Western Kentucky, 77-76.
FIU (12-6, 3-2) at MARSHALL (11-6, 4-0)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM