CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The way coach Tom Herrion sees it, Houston has set itself up well for its move to The League With No Name.
And he believes his Marshall team has taken advantage of the week that preceded today's game against those ready-to-split Cougars. Game time is 2 p.m. EST at Houston's Hofheinz Pavillion, with WCHS channel 8 airing it in Charleston-Huntington.
"One, we got to spend some time on us, more than you usually do this time of year," Herrion said. "Second, we needed to academically get our feet back on the ground."
Third, the Thundering Herd will try to get its sputtering season back on the uptick. Shoot, Marshall is trying for its second road win in a row, following the surprisingly easy win Feb. 20 at Central Florida.
Both teams are jockeying to get into the middle of the Conference USA pack, maybe even sneak away with a first-round bye in the league tournament. With UCF on the postseason sidelines, there are five such spots.
But Houston (15-11, 4-9) is a long way from that, even a game behind eighth-place Marshall. The Cougars have lost three in a row, clinching their fourth straight season with a losing league record.
This perennially enigmatic team has lost to undisputed C-USA doormat Rice, but has dumped third-place Texas-El Paso by 18. And really, their three-loss streak looks respectable - triple overtime at Tulsa, by seven points at Memphis and by 10 at UTEP.
Herrion is 3-0 against the Cougars and coach James Dickey, including a first-round dismissal in the 2011 C-USA tournament. But he knows the dangers of selling the league's highest-scoring team (76.8 per game) short.
"They're a terrific offensive club," Herrion said. "They're explosive, they score from several positions - 3s and inside with [TaShawn] Thomas. They've got balance and a lot of weapons."