Just last week, on Senior Night, the Marshall Thundering Herd traveled to El Paso to take on the UTEP MIners. In that game, UTEP held off the Herd 82-74 behind 24 points from Randy Culpepper. Both Julyan Stone and Jeremy Williams had double doubles in the win. Stone had 12 points and 12 boards while Williams had 10 points and 10 rebounds of his own. UTEP struggled to stop Marshall's 6'6 forward Tirrell Baines who had 22 points and 11 rebounds. C-USA Freshman of the Year DeAndre Kane hit four three-pointers and pitched in 20 points of his own.
1. Is Christian Polk Back for Good?
UTEP guard Christian Polk was in a troublesome shooting funk from February 16 until the last Marshall game. In the 5 game stretch starting at UTEP's loss at Southern Miss. and ending with UTEP's route of Memphis, Polk shot just 21.9% from the floor (9/42). Against the Herd, he went 3/5 and finished with 12 points. Against SMU, Polk exploded with four first half three pointers and finished with 18 points on 7/11 shooting. When Polk is on, UTEP is very difficult to beat and UTEP needs his incredible 94% free throw shooting ability on the floor.
2. Can UTEP Crash the Glass?
Last time around, Marshall was simply dominant on the boards. Despite Julyan Stones and Jeremy Williams having double-doubles, the Herd still out-rebounded The Miners 43-29. Tirrell Baines had 11 of his own, but what really concerned me is that guards DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts had 7 boards each. Even reserve guards Dago Pena and Shaquille Johnson had 3 rebounds of their own. Recall that UTEP's 6'10 center John Bohannon didn't play last time around due to a team suspension. His presence in the lineup will give UTEP a stronger presence inside.
3. Has Marshall Figured Out the Don?
Last time in El Paso, Marshall took a whopping 28 three point baskets and hit only 25% of those attempts. Last night against Houston, Marshall was a blistering 9/19 from downtown (47.4%). Dago Pena was 3/4 and even forward Jonny Thomas hit his two three point attempts. We'll see how dependent the Herd are on the long ball tonight.