Andrew Taylor’s basket with 3:46 left broke a 68-all tie and sparked Marshall to beat Texas State, 81-73, on Thursday night in a Sun Belt Conference game.
The Thundering Herd ended up outscoring the Bobcats, 13-5, from that point on to ruin White Out Night for 3,183 fans at Strahan Arena.
Marshall (16-4, 5-2 belt) remains tied for first with Southern Miss, Louisiana and UL-Monroe. Texas State is 10-10, 3-4 in the Sun Belt.
The 16-4 record matches the best 20-game start for the Herd since the 1986-87 team.
“They’re the two-time defending champions,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said of the Bobcats. “They played like that. They shot extremely well. Crowd [is] usually around 1,000. They brought this game. We finished extremely well.”
This was the first game between the two schools.
Kamdym Curfman, the Herd’s designated perimeter specialist since his transfer from VMI, caught fire in the first half. He took six three-pointers and scored a total of 18 points. Meanwhile, leading scorer Taevion Kinsey picked up two early fouls and watched from the bench as Curfman and his teammates twice went up by 11 in the first half only to see the home team tie the game at 33-33 at halftime.
Kinsey, the conference’s leading scorer, came back strong in the second half and scored twice in a late run to finish with 19 points. He got the last rebound of the game for his 700th career game. Curfman finished with 21 and Taylor 20.
Marshall had 11 3-pointers and shot 14 of 16 from the foul line (88 percent).
“That display of basketball I saw (first half), I wasn’t even looking for a shot,” Kinsey said. “When Kam is that hot, you have to give him the ball. Two fouls early on are very difficult, they affect you mentally. I worry about us, what we are doing. With the team we have, I continue with praise. They believed in me in the second half. They have a great team. It was a battle. It was our toughness, determination and the way we respond.”
Curman came in with 61 runs, No. 1 in the conference.
“Even the one I put in (three) you go, ‘Wow.’ Once I hit five in a row, the rim looks gigantic, like an ocean,” Curfman said. “They changed things up in the second half and that opened everyone up.”
D’Antoni pointed out that all parts of the Herd are connected into one.
“We saw what he did at VMI tonight,” D’Antoni said of Curfman. Kam, TK (Kinsey), Andy (Taylor), Micah (Handlogten) each carry a slightly different game. They fit each other perfectly. As long as we play like that, we’re a tough team to knock out.”
Kinsey and D’Antoni were very proud of their free throw stats as the Herd entered the night ranked 14th and last in the league in shooting foul shots.
“I took over tonight,” D’Antoni said.
Texas State entered the game as the Sun Belt’s No. 4 defense, allowing 64.3 points per game. The Herd’s total is tied for the most goals against the Bobcats in a league game.
“It’s good to win against a team that grinds like that,” D’Antoni said. “We share the ball, find a guy who’s handsome. Taevion had the first fouls, but in the end the game was in his hands. That’s what he does.”
The Herd returns to action Saturday against Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Ark. Tip-off is at 3:00 p.m.
Earlier this week, Kinsey was named to the 2023 Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List. USBWA. USBWA named Player of the Year from 1958-59. The award is named in honor of Cincinnati Hall of Famer Robertson, a two-time USBWA Player of the Year. It is the oldest national award and the only one named after a former player.