"They're playing really well, period, whatever their reasons are. Give Donnie credit, under the circumstances," Herrion said. "But when you have a senior, a terrific player like [Clanton], who came back - remember, he was applauded for coming back for what we all want to call the right reasons. He's helped lead this group to this start."
The 6-9, 250-pound Clanton was named the league's preseason player of the year and he's making a fair case with 16.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, plus 15 blocks. He ranks fifth, third and third in the league in those respective categories.
He has struggled recently on offense, scoring just 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting over his last three games. He has mitigated that with 23 rebounds and 11 assists, though.
Other top Knights include 6-8 junior Tristan Spurlock (10.6 points, 5.9 rebounds per game), 6-1 junior Calvin Newell (10.9 points) and 6-7 sophomore Kasey Wilson (10.6 points, league-best .551 3-point shooting).
For Marshall, the subplot of Jones-recruited players facing their former coach has faded as only two such players, DeAndre Kane and Nigel Spikes, remain. For them and their teammates, the overriding theme of today is ending a three-game losing streak and getting the season turned around.
But Kane will acknowledge this: The Marshall-UCF rivalry has been spicy.
"It's a great game," Kane said Friday. "Fans love it when Donnie Jones comes back here. The crowd's usually great, it's always a hard-fought game. We beat them here the last two times, they beat us there, so it should be a fun battle, Saturday at 2 o'clock."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.