HUNTINGTON -- A few critical (and trend-bucking) factors in Marshall's 88-84 win Tuesday over former NCAA tournament at-large aspirant Southern Miss.
This has been a painful time for this team, which has seen leads turn into deficits and close games turn into runaways. For instance, Houston outscored the Herd 14-4 last weekend, and Alabama-Birmingham pulled away with a 14-1 stretch eight days ago.
In Conference USA games, the Herd is 4-10-1 in the final six minutes, 3-9-1 when you throw out two irrelevant results (Herd was already down 47-7 at Southern Miss entering the last six minutes, and led East Carolina 31-9).
Sure, you can attribute part of that to D.D. Scarver not starting. He can bury a string of 3-pointers at any time and closes games with his foul shooting - he is 21 of 22 in the final minute.
But you remove Scarver's 19 points from that mix and you still have 18 - more than the number in 16 games.
The big story is the breakout of freshman Tamron Manning, who handles the point to get DeAndre Kane a "rest." Kane still played 38 minutes, but was able to work many of those without worrying about steal-happy Southern Miss point guard Neil Watson.
Manning scored a career-high 12 points, 10 in a 1:39 stretch of the first half. It was no coincidence the Herd outscored the Golden Eagles 11-1 in that stretch.
His defense is improving, and he was effective out front in a zone.
"Hey, it's hard for people to score on him one-on-one," said teammate Elijah Pittman. "We get in a zone and he's got his hands up, there's not really much you can do."
Yes, it was, as the team sort of morphed between a 2-3 and 1-3-1. And though Southern Miss still shot 51.9 percent, it was much less than the 63.2 percent the Eagles shot in the 102-46 rout at Hattiesburg.