HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - On paper, a visit from Rice seems to be the prescription for what ails any Conference USA team.
Thus far in league play, the Owls (5-18, 1-8) have suffered seven double-digit losses, including a 61-39 stinker last weekend against Southern Methodist.
The Owls own an 0-7 road record and have lost all 10 games away from their nest in Houston. They have yet to come closer than seven points, a 73-66 loss at Tulane.
They have functioned all season without seven of their top eight scorers from a year ago, when they finished 19-16 and made the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com tournament. Several were seniors, but other departures hurt - all-conference pick Arsalan Kazemi took his Rice degree and transferred to Oregon, while 7-foot-2 Omar Oraby moved to Southern California.
And there were four others departures to boot. Suddenly, much of what coach Ben Braun had taken four years to build was reduced to ashes.
Tonight at 7, those youthful Owls fly into Cam Henderson Center to tangle with similarly struggling Marshall (10-14, 3-6) at Cam Henderson Center. The Owls have lost their last three games; Thundering Herd has lost its last two.
"They've gone through a transition with guys leaving," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "They're led by a senior in Tamir Jackson, but they've got a lot of young guys getting a lot of minutes."
The Herd has played much better at the Henderson Center (9-2 vs. 1-12 elsewhere), but still has a lot to correct from last week, a road trip that resulted in losses to Tulane and Alabama-Birmingham.
Those two opponents combined to sink 20 3-point goals in 41 attempts and outrebound the Herd by a plus-12 margin. The Herd has been outrebounded in seven of its last eight games, a sticking point for a coach who is a stickler for strength on the boards.