— By Bill Cornwell
With frustrations growing from an eight-game losing streak, Marshall faces a familiar foe Saturday afternoon in Florida Atlantic.
The game against the Owls in Boca Raton, Florida tips off at 4 p.m., and will be shown by ESPN+.
The teams met in Huntington on January 8, a game the Owls won, 90-77.
FAU’s Michael Forrest blitzed the Herd for 27 points in that game. Marshall got big scoring nights from Obinna Anochili-Killen (23 points) and Taevion Kinsey (20 points), but poor shooting throughout the first half doomed Marshall in a game it never led.
Marshall (7-11, 0-5) began its Florida road trip Thursday night with a 70-66 loss to Florida International. The Panthers had lost six of eight games prior to facing the Herd. Taevion Kinsey had 25 points to lead Marshall, while Andrew Taylor (15 points), Anochili-Killen (11 points) and David Early (10 points) joined Kinsey in double figures.
“We keep playing well, but we are making mistakes at the wrong time,” Herd head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “Not getting a key rebound or a loose ball, hitting a wide open shot or making a proper defensive play is killing us.
“We play well, then we make some troubling plays.”
FAU (10-8, 3-2) came from behind in the second half and defeated Western Kentucky on Thursday, 78-69. Forrest and Everett Winchester led the Owls with 14 points each. Five FAU players scored in double figures.
Forrest still leads FAU with 14.2 points per game. Other double-figure scorers are Alijah Martin (13.7 ppg) and Bryan Greenlee (10.1 ppg). Martin and Vladislav Golden are the Owls’ top rebounders at 5.3 per game.
The Owls shoot 46 percent as a team and out-rebound the opposition by an average of five per contest.
Kinsey continues to lead Conference USA in scoring at 20.5 points per game. Anochili-Killen (13.3 ppg) and Taylor (12.3 ppg) are the team’s other top scorers. Anochili-Killen is Marshall’s top rebounder at 6.7 per game.
D’Antoni continues to make tweaks to the lineup, including featuring Early at point guard against FIU, but he says the Herd must make mental adjustments to break its losing streak.
“Everybody has to buckle down and want it,” D’Antoni said. “Small things add up at the end of games.”
Kinsey agrees with his coach.
“We’re hungry, but we’ve got to show that hunger on Saturday,” Kinsey said.
Marshall has won nine of 13 meetings with FAU.
After Saturday’s game, the Herd is back home next week with games Thursday against Middle Tennessee and Saturday against UAB.