Marshall’s December struggles continued when the Thundering Herd traveled to Rupp Arena and ran into the 23rd ranked Kentucky Wildcats who blew the Herd out 82-54.
The Herd fell to 3-3 in the month, and the Wildcats held Marshall to its worst offensive performance of the season as the Herd only managed to score 54 points on 18-61 (30 percent) shooting.
“We know we have some offensive struggles which are evident,” said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. “We have to defend and rebound for 40 minutes against a team like Kentucky, and obviously that’s a lousy way for us to go into break, but will come back and bounce back.”
Early in the first half, the Herd went blow for blow with the Wildcats and led multiple times in the first ten minutes of the game, but the Herd would hit one its worst offensive slumps of the season.
With 11:43 remaining in the first half, Marshall’s Elijah Pittman flushed a fast break dunk to give the Herd a 20-18 lead, but from that point on Marshall would score just 4 points and go into the locker room trailing the Wildcats 33-24.
“We did a really good job controlling the tempo and grinding which is what we needed to do against a team like this,” Herrion said. “We just obviously didn’t play smart.”
The Herd came out of the locker room strong and opened the second half on a 7-2 run within the first minute, but again Marshall would hit an offensive drought the Wildcats would take advantage of.
Kentucky held the Herd to just 31 percent in the second half and forced 9 turnovers in the half alone.
“When you’re playing from behind, you’re playing uphill, you’re pushing that rock up the hill and it becomes very challenging,” Herrion said. “Our offensive inefficiency right now is destroying us, we’re so ineffective on offense it puts pressure to make every stop and you can’t do that.”
Marshall ran into Kentucky’s version of twin towers in Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein, and as it had in its previous five losses this season the Herd lost the battle on the boards, 48-43.
“Going against two seven footers got really physical,” said Marshall senior center Dennis Tinnon. “At times I would put a body on them, but they’re so long I can’t even get up there.”
The loss sets the Herd back to 7-6 on the season and is the fifth consecutive game in which Marshall has failed to score 70 or more points.
The Herd also struggled on the defense end of the floor as well, allowing Kentucky to shoot 42 percent from the field and score 52 points from inside the paint.
“We couldn’t fine or rhythm or anything,” Tinnon said. “We have to really, really focus on defense because if we’re not going to guard anybody we’re going to continue to lose. You have to guard on every possession.”
Marshall now has a ten day layoff before it next takes the floor which will be on January 2 when Delaware State will visit the Cam Henderson Center for the Herd’s next to last non-conference game.