The Marshall Men’s Basketball team continues a brief road trip Wednesday night as the Thundering Herd visits the Akron Zips.
The Herd (4-2) lost Saturday night at Indiana 90-79. Marshall hung tough with the Hoosiers throughout the contest, but couldn’t overcome their inside strength as the Hoosiers’ junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis torched the Herd by scoring 43 points.
Akron (3-3) returns home after going 1-2 in last week’s Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida. The Zips last game in the event resulted in a 69-60 win over Evansville.
The teams have met 14 times in the past, with the Zips leading the series 8-6. The last matchup was in December 2019, an 85-73 Akron win in Huntington at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Zips are led by Head Coach John Groce, who has a 72-52 in his 4th season in Akron.
Marshall’s emphasis in preparing for Wednesday’s game is improving its inside defensive presence after Jackson-Davis and other Indiana players had relatively little opposition on the way to scoring 50 points in the paint last Saturday.
“Some of it that you’ve just got to man up,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve got to challenge our kids to man up and then we’ve got to have an alternate attack.”
Much of Monday’s MU practice dealt with developing defensive double-teams at the basket to counter an Akron offense that presents challenges to those offered by Indiana.
“They play inside-out,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve got to work defensively on just guarding the post and how to rotate and bring in help. We’ve got to get better at it.”
Akron is led by 6-7 sophomore forward Enrique Freeman, who scores 12.5 points per game. Other double-figure scorers for the Zips are 6-8 sophomore win Ali Ali (11.2 points per game) and 6-1 junior guard Xavier Castaneda at 10 points per game. Freeman is also the Zips leading rebounder at 11.2 per game.
Akron brings some size off of the bench in the form of 7-0 freshman center Aziz Bandaogo from Senegal, who chips in with 5.5 points per game, 4.3 rebounds and he’s the team’s top shot-blocker with 10 so far this season.
Junior guard Taevion Kinsey still leads Marshall in scoring at 19.8 points per contest. Other double-figure scorers for the Herd are redshirt freshman forward Obinna Anochili-Killen (14.3 ppg), senior forward Darius George (13 ppg) junior guard Andrew Taylor (12.2 ppg). Anochili-Killen is Marshall’s top rebounder at 8.5 per game and he’s also recorded 33 blocks in six games, good for 5.5 per game. Taylor leads Marshall in assists with 41.
After the game in Akron, Marshall returns home Saturday night to host Duquesne. That game will tip-off at 7 pm at the Cam Henderson Center.