"He's just a horse," continued Black of Dixon's 29 point performance.
A blistering shooting performance by Western Kentucky in the second half did in the Thundering Herd. WKU shot 18-of-25 in the half, an unheard of 72%.
"They came out just smoking, hitting everything," said Marshall guard A.W. Hamilton of WKU's 20-0 run in the second half. "Things just weren't going our way."
In the first half, Marshall rallied back from an 8-point deficit (25-17) with 10:38 remaining. Eric Smith was the star of MU's 13-5 run, hitting a three-pointer, a jumper, and capping off the run with a behind-the-back fast-break dunk that energized the crowd.
Western Kentucky's Nigel Dixon tossed in two of his 29 points against Marshall on Saturday night.photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Marshall extended their first half lead to five points on a Marvin Black layup. Western's Anthony Winchester drained a three at the buzzer to cut MU's lead to only one at the half, 41-40.
Western rattled off a 20-0 run early in the second half that found Marshall stuck with 43 points for almost 6:30, until Enoch Bunch hit a jumper with 12:29 left in the game. By that time, however, WKU had done some serious damage, as the 62-43 score indicated.
"We couldn't break it up," MU coach Jirsa described the WKU run. "We called two timeouts, changed the defense. In that time, I thought we had a lot of good shots. We couldn't keep the pace."
Marshall guard A.W. Hamilton took matters into his own hands, scoring the next 11 points and cutting the lead to only eight, at 64-56.
"We were strugging, and I felt like I could hit some shots," said Hamilton. "I didn't hit enough."
WKU guard Antonio Haynes answered with a 7-point run of his own, extending WKU's lead back to 18 at 78-60. Western shot a blistering 72% (18-of-25) in the second half, outscoring Marshall by a 47-25 margin.
Marshall was led in scoring by Hamilton with 16 points, followed by Marvin Black (13) and Enoch Bunch (11) also hitting double figures. MU shot 46.4% from the field (26-of-56), while Western finished the game shooting 59.6% (34-of-57).
Western Kentucky's Nigel Dixon led all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting, plus hauled down 16 rebounds. Antonio Haynes had 17 points, Anthony Winchester scored 16, as did Michael Wells.
"Nigel got going early, and got some buckets early," summed up WKU coach Darin Horn. "Any time that he's one-on-one, he's a hard matchup for a lot of people."
The ESPN Bracket Buster matchup ended with WKU improving to 14-11 overall with the win, and Marshall dropping to 9-14 with the loss. Next up for The Herd is a Tuesday evening MAC matchup with the Ball State Cardinals at 7pm in the Henderson Center.