Through 13 games, Winthrop's Eagles have barely been able to take a deep breath, with one difficult game following another.
They finally got to enjoy a relatively pressure-less game Wednesday, when they put a 44-point whipping on Limestone.
They probably had about four minutes to enjoy it. The final horn had barely sounded on their 78-34 win when thoughts of today's opponent -- Marshall -- crept into their heads.
It's another road game the Eagles can win, or another road game where the opponent is capable of running them back to Rock Hill.
Despite the one-sided nature of Wednesday, coach Randy Peele and his team needed it to get ready for the Thundering Herd.
"It gets us ready big-time," said redshirt freshman Byron Faison, who played a season-high 22 minutes and scored a season-high 13 points. "We've only got two days to prepare (for Marshall). It keeps us fresh and energized, and hopefully (today) we'll come out and get a win."
The Eagles (8-5) have won three straight, including a road win against 19th-ranked Miami a week ago. Today's 2 p.m. game and next Wednesday's home game with Presbyterian close out the non-conference portion of the schedule before Big South play opens a week from today.
The Herd (7-4) will be another game for the Eagles to work on their weaknesses in hopes of getting better before conference play begins.
"My whole thing to the team is get better," Peele said after beating Limestone. "My message is, I'm going to keep challenging them.
"Before the Miami game, they hadn't convinced me they were tough enough to win that game. After the game, I thought our toughness level was pretty good.
"Now, we've got to be ready to play Marshall and to play well."
Peele said Marshall will be like "playing a (NCAA) Division I Queens, and that's a problem."
The Eagles beat Queens, a Division II school from Charlotte, 68-61, in a very difficult season-opener. The smaller Royals tried to spread the floor, beat the Eagles off the dribble and knock down open jumpers. The Eagles won, despite 19 turnovers, by getting to the free throw line 39 times.
Marshall, picked to finish ninth in the 12-team Conference USA, tries to do the same, only with bigger, quicker athletes. It's a style first-year coach Donnie Jones brought with him from Florida where he was an assistant for 11 seasons, including the past two national championship years.
"(Marshall) wants to create chaos, make it a hectic pace," Peele said. "They want to speed the game up, make you take bad shots and then turn the ball over."
That's an especially effective style at home. The Herd thrives on good crowd support in the Cam Henderson Center, where the program has won more than 75 percent of its game since the arena opened 27 years ago.
The Herd is 7-1 at home this year, with the only loss a stunner to Lipscomb. They've won 12 of their last 14 at home.
Marshall beat San Diego 76-60 in its last game. That's the same San Diego team that won at Kentucky a week ago.
Marshall's best player is 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior Markel Humphrey, who is the Herd's version of Winthrop's Taj McCullough. Humphrey averages 15.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, shoots 50 percent and can step out and make 3-pointers.
And, like Winthrop, they have senior guards in 6-0 Pierre-Marie Altidor Cespedes and 6-2 Mark Dorris.
Like Winthrop's Charles Corbin, they rely on a freshman in the middle, 6-6 Tirrell Baines of Laurens, who averages 13.3 points and six rebounds.
But 13 games into the season, Peele thinks his team needs to concentrate on how to get better, with the emphasis on concentration.
"Our improvement from now until March," Peele said, "is based on our mental capacity in everything -- how we approach film sessions, practice, walk-throughs. We've got to focus on what we do at that time. As a group, how determined are we?"
WINTHROP (8-5) AT MARSHALL (7-4)
• When: 2 p.m.
• Where: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington, W.Va.
• TV: None
• Radio: WRHM (107.1 FM), 1:30 p.m.