The preseason Horizon League favorite Wright State men’s basketball team opens the 2020-21 season inside the Nutter Center on Thursday night as the Raiders welcome Marshall to town. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and fans can follow the action by tuning in to WRZX 106.5 FM or watching on ESPN+. Chris Collins and Jim Brown will bring Raider fans the play-by-play on the radio and ESPN feeds.
The Raiders have won their season-opening game in nine of the last 10 seasons, while Marshall enters the contest 1-0 after beginning its season with a win last week.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright State will take the floor for the first time in 269 days on Thursday night against Marshall. The Raiders last played on Monday, March 9 in the Horizon League Championship semifinals in Indianapolis before seeing the 2020 NIT scrapped due to the pandemic. Following the NCAA’s decision to push back the start of the 2020-21 season from early November to late November, Wright State had to wait a couple more days to get back on the hardwood after its planed season-opening trip to Illinois to play three games was canceled.
Marshall is coming off of a 70-56 win over Arkansas State at home on Friday. Taevion Kinsey scored a game-high 17 points and Darius George added 15 of his own. The Thundering Herd were slated to open the season on Nov. 25 before seeing that contest against Coppin State canceled. Wright State meets Marshall for the third time in program history on Thursday. The teams previously met in a home-and-home series during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns, with each squad winning on its home floor. Marshall was a seven-point home winner in December 2006 before the Raiders had a seven-point win of their own November 2007 inside the Nutter Center. Marshall tallied a 17-15 record last season overall with a 10-8 mark in C-USA play.
Jarrod West was named to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team and was named third-team all-conference last season while leading Conference USA with 65 steals, while Taevion Kinsey was named to the all-conference second-team and led the team in scoring with 16.4 points and assists with 133 during the 2019-20 season. After five steals in the Thundering Herd opener, West is now two steals away from breaking Skip Henderson’s Marshall men’s basketball program record of 208, while Jannson Williams is 29 blocks away from breaking Hassan Whiteside’s program record of 182. Marshall was tabbed third in the preseason poll behind Western Kentucky and North Texas, which were picked to finish first and second, respectively. Marshall finished the 2019-20 season with a 17-15 record and an 86-78 victory over UTEP in the first round of the 2020 C-USA Championship before the rest of the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. The Thundering Herd return all but three players this season.
IN CASE YOU’VE FORGOTTEN ABOUT US…
Wright State claimed its first outright Horizon League regular season title in program history last season with a 15-3 mark in Horizon League play. The 15 League wins were a new program-best, while the Raiders’ 25 wins in 2019-20 set the new program standard for most wins in a regular season in the Division I Era. Additionally, the team’s six road Horizon League victories were the most in program history and the Raiders were a perfect 9-0 at home in league play on the way to a 14-2 overall home mark at the Nutter Center. Wright State was the only team to have a member on the All-Horizon League first, second and third team, led by Player of the Year Loudon Love. The Raiders’ seven Horizon League honors were also the most in Wright State program history, surpassing the six from 2018-19.
Wright State has always opened seasons strong at home, any way you slice its schedule. The Raiders have won 12 season openers over the last 20 years, dating back to 2000-01, including opening the season inside the Nutter Center nine times in the last 20 years, with seven wins in those games. In its history, Wright State is a combined 43-7 all-time in home openers in its two home venues. The Raiders were an astounding 19-1 in home openers inside the Physical Education Building from 1970-71 through 1989-90 (lone loss was 1976-77 home opener) and have been just as impressive inside the Nutter Center. Since opening the Nutter Center on December 1, 1990, Wright State is 24-6 in home openers, including winning the first home contest of the season nine of the last 10 years.
ALL IN THE NAME OF LOVE…
Loudon Love begins 2020-21 only 26 rebounds shy of Edwards’ 907 career boards. Over his first three seasons, Love is averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, which is also on pace to reset the Raider program record for career rebound average – currently 8.7 rpg from Rondey Robinson. After No. 33 became the 33rd member of Wright State’s 1,000 Point Club last season, Love enters 2020-21 at No. 15 all-time in program history with 1,393 points and is less than 100 points away from entering the realm of the top 10 Raider scorers all-time. Love averaged 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds last season, turning in double digit scoring performances in 21 of his 27 games played, including 17 in Horizon League play. He finished with 11 double-double performances last season, including eight in league action.
For the third consecutive season, Wright State was picked atop the Horizon League preseason poll, with the Raiders receiving 37 of the 44 total first place votes ahead of the 2020-21 season. Additionally, Loudon Love was chosen as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year and a First Team preseason selection. The Raiders earned 517 total votes in the preseason poll, while a pair of other teams split the remaining seven first-place votes. Youngstown State, who was picked to finish second in the poll with 423 total votes, received three first-place votes, while Northern Kentucky received four first-place votes, but was slotted third in the preseason poll after receiving 413 total votes.
GAME PREVIEW COURTESY WRIGHT STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS