C-USA preseason favorites meet Saturday
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University welcomes Conference USA favorite Western Kentucky University for a key men’s basketball clash Saturday.
Western Kentucky (8-7, 1-1 C-USA) was picked first ahead of defending champion Marshall (9-6, 2-0) in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches.
Marshall leads C-USA in average home attendance in Cam Henderson Center with 6,456 per game and the ticket office announced lower level tickets are sold out for the 7 p.m. Saturday contest. Only upper level tickets are available for $25 (plus a $2 ticket fee) and $15 (with a $1.50 ticket fee).
“I hope everybody will show up for this next one with Western,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “It’s a big one.”
Marshall returns home to play its first home game in 34 days against the team it defeated for the 2018 conference tournament championship, 67-66, in Frisco, Texas.
Senior guard C.J. Burks fired in 25 points and made six 3-point shots Saturday for Marshall in an 85-84 win at Charlotte (3-10, 0-2). Burks also had several nice drives for baskets, snagged four rebounds, delivered four assists and made one steal.
It was a major turnaround for Burks from Thursday’s game when sophomore guard Jarrod West’s 3-point shot with 1.9 seconds left beat Old Dominion, 70-67. Burks missed all five of his 3-point attempts against the Monarchs and netted only six points in his only game this season with less than 10.
Six-foot-nine sophomore forward
Mikel Beyers was the hero at the end of Saturday’s game in Halton Arena. Beyers rose up to reject a 3-point attempt by 49ers senior guard Jon Davis from the corner as the clock ran out.
Beyers was in the game for 19 minutes and freshman guard Taevion Kinsey played for the full 40 as a 6-5 power forward. Beyers contributed four points, two assists, two blocks and one steal. Kinsey scored 14, grabbed five rebounds, dished three assists, blocked one shot and made two steals.
Senior point guard Jon Elmore added 16 points, five assists and three rebounds. Jannson Williams, a 6-9 sophomore forward scored 13 and snagged six rebounds.
“We have a lot of young kids playing,” D’Antoni said. “We’re kind of blank in that junior class. We go from our three seniors really down to freshman and sophomores. It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge. It’s fun to watch these kids develop.
“Hopefully by the end of the year I won’t call them freshmen, I’ll call them champions.”
Marshall committed only 11 turnovers in its first two conference games -- four at Charlotte and seven at Old Dominion.
Davis of the 49ers is the C-USA scoring leader with 21.4 points a game and pumped in 37 against the Herd while also snaring five rebounds and handing out seven assists.
Western Kentucky began conference play Thursday with a 68-50 win at Charlotte and had one slip away Saturday against Old Dominion in a 69-66 defeat.
The Hilltoppers spurted to a 21-0 lead on the Monarchs, but Old Dominion pulled even with about 11 minutes to go and took its first lead at about the nine-minute mark of the second half. Xavier Green’s 3-point shot for Old Dominion with three-plus minutes left tied the game one more time 62-62 and the Monarchs held on.
“You go up whatever it was, and you can’t relax,” said Western Kentucky head coach Rick Stansbury. “Twenty points means very little in today’s basketball. We had self-inflicted turnovers. ... I thought their toughness versus ours exposed us some.”
Sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth and 6-11 fresh ma n Cha rles Bassey both tossed in 19 points for the Hilltoppers, the same as Old Dominion senior guard B.J. Stith. Western Kentucky’s Josh Anderson, a 6-6 sophomore guard, scored 17. Bassey and Stith both pulled down 12 rebounds.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (8-7, 1-1) AT MARSHALL (9-6, 2-0)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
TV: CBS Sports Network on Facebook Watch
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM, WMUL 88.1-FM