ATHENS, Ohio - Marshall and Ohio played basketball for the 100th time and, depending on which shade of green you prefer, either the Bobcats played their best game in 99 meetings or the Thundering Herd played its worst in 99.
One result was indisputable - after the Bobcats cruised home with a 94-57 victory Saturday before 6,971 at the Convocation Center, they recorded the second-largest margin of victory by either team in the series. Only the first meeting, a 55-9 Ohio win on Feb. 4, 1921, was more lopsided.
In Saturday's historic pounding, Ohio's D.J. Cooper set a school record with 17 assists. The Bobcats tied the school mark with 29 team assists, and their 65.3 percent field goal shooting was a team record at the 45-year-old Convo.
Against a veteran team that went to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 a year ago, the Herd's turnover problems were magnified in a horrific first half in which Ohio took a 56-24 lead.
In 20 minutes of infamy, the Herd allowed 39 of those 56 points off 19 turnovers. Ohio (9-5) shot 74 percent in that first half, mostly because it was 14 of 14 from 2-point range.
Those didn't come from midrange jumpers off multiple screens, either. Specifically, 13 came on layups or dunks.
"There's no team in the country - and I've watched a lot of games, live, taped - there's no team in the country that has defense for those types of turnovers," said Herd coach Tom Herrion. "And that's why they were 14 of 14 from 2 for the first half, because they were laying the ball in without any defense because we were turning the ball over up top, time after time after time."
Not even the return of DeAndre Kane could come close to bailing out the Herd (7-8). After missing four games with a broken bone in his hand, Kane entered the game in the first minute, managing six points, eight rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes, fouling out with 7:46 left.
The tone was set from the opening tap, when Nick Kellogg fired in a 3-pointer for the first of his game-high 22 points. Ivo Baltic forced the first turnover, pilfering from Dennis Tinnon and feeding Walter Offutt for a basket at the other end.
That 5-1 lead swelled to 9-1 by Marshall's first timeout, 15-4 by the second and 30-12 at the third and fourth, the latter with 9:58 left in the half. Then the Bobcats scored the next nine points after that for a 39-12 lead with eight minutes still left before the break.
As if to "one-up" itself after an 82-54 loss at Kentucky and an inexplicable 53-51 loss to Delaware State, Marshall committed eight turnovers on its first 13 possessions Saturday and slid from there. The few times it defended in the half court, the Herd didn't do that well, either.
But the big, big problem remains the turnovers.
"Not strong enough, not tough enough," Herrion said. "Pass and catch - I know it's a simple phrase, but clearly we did not execute it at any position or any personnel package that we put out there today. That's really, really discouraging, really, really disappointing.
"It looks like we don't work on it, but we work on it time after time after time."
The second half was little more than time to fill out the stat sheet. Five Bobcats finished in double figures scoring-wise, with Cooper tallying 12 to complete his 21st career double-double. OU hit 11 3-pointers in 23 attempts and racked up 16 steals.
In one of the most inconsequential stats ever, the Herd outrebounded Ohio 43-27 and pulled down 25 offensive rebounds. But in a continuation of another nagging Herd trend, those offensive boards were converted into just 14 second-chance points.
D.D. Scarver led the Herd with 13 points, while Tinnon led with 13 rebounds. Jamir Hanner scored 12 points, including 8-of-9 shooting from the line, the Herd's most positive development. He raised his career average from 31.7 percent to 42 percent, and his season mark from 50 percent to 66.7 percent.
Kane still had his shooting troubles, airballing one of his three missed free throws and misfiring twice from 3-point range. He also went 3 of 10 from the floor and committed four turnovers.
"It still hurts," he said. "I can't really grip the ball with a pad right there [points to special cast], so I have to shoot with my fingers. But there are no excuses; I'm out here playing."
Ohio coach Jim Christian improved to 7-1 as a head coach against Marshall, including a 6-1 mark with Kent State. His Golden Flashes didn't maul the Herd any worse than the 79-57 drubbing in the 2003 Mid-American Conference tournament.
"We were a little hungry tonight," Christian said of his Bobcats, who entered the game on a 2-5 skid. "They're going through a lot of things. Kane coming back - you don't go through what, five weeks? For a guard to have a hand injury, that's really hard. I give that kid a lot of credit for getting himself ready to play, and being tough.
"They have so much talent. They rebound the ball better than anybody we've seen, and we've seen some pretty good rebounding teams. They'll get it figured out."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
OHIO 94, MARSHALL 57
MARSHALL 57 (7-8)
M FG FT R A P
Elijah Pittman 18 3-5 1-5 2 0 18
Dennis Tinnon 24 2-9 0-0 13 1 4
D.D. Scarver 26 5-12 2-3 2 3 13