Ohio Bobcats (5-4 SU, 2-3-1 ATS, 6-0 O/U) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (7-3 SU, 3-4 ATS, 4-3 O/U)
NCAAB: Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. EST
The Marshall Thundering Herd have won three games in a row heading into a home date with the Ohio Bobcats at the Cam Henderson Center on Saturday night. Marshall is coming off consecutive victories over Akron, UT-Chattanooga, and Toledo. The Bobcats have alternated wins and losses dating back to Nov. 24 and they most recently defeated Western Kentucky last Sunday.
Wanna Be Like Mike
Senior guard Mike Laster is well on his way to what looks like his best season at Marshall. Laster is leading the team with 16.7 points per game and he is shooting 50.4 percent from the floor. He recently became the first Thundering Herd player since the 2015-16 campaign to produce at least three straight games with at least 20 points. That stretch was highlighted by a career-high 25-point performance in a 96-94 quadruple overtime defeat of Indiana State on Nov. 19 at the Gildan Charleston Classic. Laster has led Ohio in scoring on seven occasions already this season, including against Maryland (14 points) and in this past Sunday’s 89-84 victory over Western Michigan.
Laster is starting to get plenty of help from the front-court, mainly because sophomore forward Jason Carter is back from a leg injury. Carter, who missed the first seven games of this season contributed six points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 16 minutes of work in his 2017-18 debut against Maryland. He also contributed 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals against Western Michigan. The 6’8”, 235-pounder earned All-MAC Freshman honors as a freshman after playing in all 31 games (15 starts) and averaging 9.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Marshall has few more steps to take before it boasts the full arsenal that it is currently able to display only in practices. Two of those will not occur until next season, when 300-pounder Iran Bennett (academically ineligible) and Levi Cook (transfer from DePaul) become eligible. Guard Deaundra Murphy is also a transfer who is slated for action in 2018-19. The Thundering Herd should be able to welcome Rondale Watson (transfer from Wake Forest and academically ineligible) this season, but not until first semester grades are submitted to make him eligible–likely in January.
“Things are bright; it’s going to get brighter,” head coach Dan D’Antoni forecasted. “We will hopefully, and I’ve got my fingers crossed, add one (Watson) at the break. I know our taxi squad is going to get a lot better. It might be the hardest game we play…when we play ourselves.”
With its current group, however, Marshall is doing just fine. D’Antoni’s squad is 7-3 overall and riding a current three-game winning streak. Four players are averaging in double-figures and three of those players are scoring at least 17.7 points per game. Junior guard Jon Elmore is tops on the team at 24.6 ppg.
The Ohio Bobcats are:
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last five overall
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records
The Marshall Thundering Herd are:
- 12-5 in their last 17 home games
- 19-7 in their last 26 home games against teams with losing road records
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games against the Mid-American Conference
For Marshall, C.J. Burks (18.5 ppg) and Ajdin Penava (17.7 ppg) are not far behind Elmore in the scoring department. Although the Thundering Herd may be even better in January and then even better than that next season, they are already a well-oiled machine. The Bobcats are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five overall, 1-3-1 ATS in their last five non-conference contests, 2-5 ATS in their last seven against winning opponents, and 1-5 ATS in their last six following a win. Marshall is 12-5 in its last 17 at home, 19-7 in its last 26 at home against opponents with losing road records, and 4-1 in its last five against the Mid-American Conference. Look for those trends to continue.