HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - In the standings ledger, it counts the same for Marshall as all those other road losses, including that 56-point humiliation at Southern Mississippi.
But it's crazy to compare the Thundering Herd's 73-72 loss to Memphis on Jan. 26 to the Southern Miss game, which came three days earlier. In an "0-for" road season, the game at Memphis represents the Herd's best effort.
Three weeks later, the most practical application comes in the form of confidence, which the Herd should have when the 22nd-ranked Tigers come calling Saturday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m., with the game airing on CBS Sports Network.
"We battled, went toe-to-toe and had the ball in our hands with a chance to win," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "On the road against a terrific team like that, that's what you ask for. Nonetheless we didn't get the job done; that disappoints us."
The Herd's last chance to seize the lead against Memphis came down to a 3-point try by Elijah Pittman that fell short of the rim, possibly blocked by the Tigers' D.J. Stephens. Chris Crawford made two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to give Memphis a 73-69 lead, enough to withstand DeAndre Kane's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The contest also serves as the Tigers' closest brush with defeat in their current 15-game winning streak, dating back to a Dec. 15 loss to Louisville. Their 93-71 win Wednesday night over Central Florida certainly wasn't that close, as the Tigers blew the game open in the second half.
That result came three days after Memphis (21-3 overall, 10-0 Conference USA) won at second-place Southern Miss 89-76, another impressive result. Games like those have propelled the Tigers, 17th in the preseason Associated Press poll, back into the Top 25.
"Now they're older. They're one of the most experienced teams in the conference," Herrion said. "And it's evidenced by their play."
Jackson, one of several third-year veterans, leads the team with 13.9 points per game. That's just 14th in C-USA, but he is in the top 10 in 3-point percentage (second .491), assists (fifth, 4.8), field-goal percentage (sixth, .544), assist-to-turnover ratio (sixth, 1.69), steals and free-throw percentage (seventh, 1.71).
Tarik Black, who is coming off the bench for Memphis these days, leads the league by a large margin in field-goal percentage at .611. Junior-college transfer Geron Johnson is the reigning league player of the week after averaging 22 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in wins over Southern Methodist and Southern Miss.
Kane has held onto the league leadership in assists and beefed up the margin with his 10 in the Herd's 71-70 win over Rice on Wednesday. He now averages 7.33, well above the 6.43 by East Carolina's Miguel Paul.