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Akron Zips vs. Marshall Thundering Herd preview: Zips just need to not screw up

After wiping the floor with Bluffton on Dec. 10, the Zips now switch their attention to the Thundering Herd for their second-last game before conference play starts.

Akron look to continue dominance of lower competition with game against Marshall on Monday.
Akron look to continue dominance of lower competition with game against Marshall on Monday.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After a couple disparaging losses to Middle Tennessee and North Dakota State and the dismissal of Demetrius Treadwell, it would have been easy for the Zips to write off their non-conference schedule.

Instead, Akron (7-4) rebounded off its loss to the Bison and dismantled Bluffton 92-53 to cruise into its game against Marshall with plenty of confidence. The defensive pressure by the whole team was impressive, as they held the Beavers to 27 points in the first half, but the truly encouraging play was put forth on the offensive end.

While standout freshman Noah Robotham has grabbed many of the headlines for the Zips in recent games, it was redshirt-freshman B.J. Gladden who shined offensively for much of the Bluffton game.

He received his first start for coach Keith Dambrot that night and the redshirt-freshman from Charlotte scored four of the team's first eight points on two thunderous dunks in transition to set the Zips' pace for the rest of the game.

Gladden finished with eleven points and Dambrot and Co. will hope that Gladden can bring that much energy into a game where Akron, once again, appears to be at a clear advantage.

The Thundering Herd (4-8) had a great start to the season--winning their first three games by double-digits. But that quick start turned into disaster as Marshall lost its next six, needing a win over Div. II King University to stop the skid.

As it stands now, the Thundering Herd are on a two-game losing streak, the last result being an 83-54 mauling by Nevada. So while both teams seem to be heading in different directions going into the game, it is a critical game for both teams.

Conference play starts for Marshall on Jan. 4 as the Thundering Herd take on Western Kentucky and Akron have one more tuneup game, against Coppin State at James A. Rhodes Arena on Jan. 3.

Whether the Zips are riding a three-game winning streak or a disappointing two-game skid going into MAC play can all be determined by this test against the Thundering Herd and Dambrot will be hoping that his team can play the flashy, fluid basketball that they played against Bluffton at James A. Rhodes Arena a week ago.