Marshall's first points did not come until UAB (15-6, 5-1 Conference USA) was up 13-0 when Tyler Wilkerson hit two free throws 5:01 into the game. Robert Vaden hit the second of his four threes in the game, followed by the second three of Channing Toney, and the Blazers were out to a 23-5 lead before Marshall (11-9, 3-4) got its first field goal at the 10:28 mark of the first half from senior Mark Dorris, who led MU with 17 points. At the half, it was 34-21 and Marshall had its worst-shooting half of the season by knocking down only 3-of-18 shots in the half. "They have some great athletes," Head Coach Donnie Jones said of UAB, "and they made their shots. We just couldn't get them to fall in the first half."
Marshall had beaten the Blazers just two weeks ago in Huntington, 62-57, and that is the only loss for the pre-season No. 2 pick in the league. UAB got 18 points from Toney and Lawrence Kinnard, who was 0-for-6 from three at the Henderson Center, finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. UAB beat the Herd on the glass, 42-22. "We were chasing Vaden on the outside," said Jones, "and they had some guys doing good work underneath." Vaden had three three-points goals in the first half and finished with 15 points after scoring 23 against the Herd in game one. The Blazers shot 50 percent for the game, hitting 25-of-50 shots.
Tyler Wilkerson continues to take his game up a notch, just like he did last season in Conference USA play. He had his third straight, and fourth in the last five games, double digit scoring night with 15 points and four rebounds. Tirrell Baines added seven points and four boards, while Markel Humphrey played just 25 minutes and scored eight points in the game. "Markel was pretty banged up and sore from the last two games," said Jones, "so we held him out most of the second half to try and rest his heel for the game at UCF Wednesday."
Marshall played better in the second half, shooting 16-of-32 from the field, but only had three free throws attempts. "We had out chances when we cut it to nine and ten," said Jones, "but we just couldn't hit the big shot we needed." MU cut the lead to 43-34 on Dorris' only three-point basket at the 13:03 mark, but the Blazers answered with a 9-0 run to lead by 18 with ten minutes to play and Marshall never threatened again. UAB out-rebounded the Herd 42-22, and Marshall's leading rebounder was Wilkerson, Baines and Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes who each had four. MU has not had a game in the last two seasons without at least one player having five rebounds. MU also had a season-low four assists as a team, one less than the loss to West Virginia.
The Herd will have to regroup quickly, with a trip home on Sunday and then a trip to Orlando to face Central Florida on Wednesday. The Knights lost to Houston, 84-81, at the New UCF Arena on Saturday night to drop to 11-10 overall, 4-3 in C-USA with its third-consecutive loss in league play. UCF is just 2-2 at home in conference games, while Marshall is just 1-7 away from the Henderson Center with a win at Rice (3-17, 0-7 in C-USA). The good news is after the game at the Knights, Marshall will have four of the next five games at home and only three more road trips this season. Marshall has already played first-place Memphis (21-0, 7-0) and the two teams tied for second-place, Houston (16-4, 5-1) and UAB. Marshall will have home games with East Carolina (7-12, 1-5 with home win over MU), Tulane (5-2, 15-6), UTEP (13-7, 4-3), UCF and Southern Miss (11-10, 3-4)on March 8 to finish the home schedule. Their will still be trips to SMU (9-10, 1-5), Tulsa (9-10, 2-5), who the Herd beat 72-65 in overtime last Wednesday, and Tulane (15-6, 5-2), and the Herd won last year at aging Fogelman Arena in New Orleans over the Green Wave.