There are many ways to write underperforming that is kind to the Hilltopper program at this point. Let us be right out with it and say that the program has not won as many games as we expected, although no one with a good basketball opinion really thinks that this team is out of anything.
The showdown between conference leader Marshall and conference favorite WKU was always going to be fun and intriguing but WKU had their backs against the wall and for that team, this was going to be a season-defining moment.
The Hilltoppers lost a heartbreaker to Marshall in Huntington just less-than a fortnight ago, the middle game of a three-game losing streak that has put the program on the cusp of a full-blown meltdown.
On this night they played like the very talented, very desperate team they are.
We cannot make any grand proclimations other than to say that the stretch in the second half that saw the Hilltoppers seemingly play a different game of basketball because of their talented roster was awe-inspiring and lots of fun if you do not claim Marshall as your favorite basketball team.
It also temporarily throws the conference standings into a temporary tie at the top with both green-and-white squads holding 5-1 records after the end of tonight’s ceremonies.
The scheduling was odd and for the first 60% of the game everyone looked like they had played three games in five nights. Josh Anderson shook off whatever rust and killed a Marshall rally late with a couple of spectacular plays — the first came on a scoop layup where he dipped up-and-under with only one hand to the other side of the rim and the second was a thunderous dunk to seal things.
Anderson had 18 in the second half on 7/9 shooting with four steals. Charles Bassey put up 17 and 17.
Marshall’s big guns struggled all game. Jon Elmore had 12 of his 17 in the second half but finished just 4/10 from deep. CJ Burks finished with 13 but missed a big free throw in the final rally. Marshall shot 35% for the game. WKU overcame a struggling first half to shoot 42% for the game.
Marshall is now 5-1, tied for first in the league with North Texas.
WKU is 3-3, tied with FIU.