"I was trying to penetrate the open gaps in the zone," Manning said. "I was trying to get in the gaps as much as possible and hit my open shots."
While Marshall found the gaps in the Eagles' zone defense, the Herd put Southern Miss on its heels in the beginning of the game with its zone defense. Marshall started all three of its seniors - Goff, Spikes and forward Dennis Tinnon - with juniors DeAndre Kane and Elijah Pittman. With the height and length in that lineup - only 6-foot-4 Kane stands shorter than 6-8 among those five - Herrion said a zone was the right move.
"It's something we've had and we've used, and tonight we obviously used it in abundance," Herrion said. "We've played it. We never started a game in it, but with the lineup we started, I didn't think we could match up man-to-man because we were too big."
In building that 16-8 lead, Marshall held Southern Miss to 3-of-13 shooting and two turnovers in the game's first 8:08, outrebounding the Eagles 10-3. Southern Miss, mainly senior guard Dwayne Davis, didn't let the Herd run away with the game. The Eagles ended the night shooting 51.9 percent (28 for 54) from the floor. Davis, who entered Tuesday night averaging 14.5 points per game, scored a career-high 35 by making 13 of 20 shots, including five of seven from 3-point range.
Pittman led Marshall with 22 points, making seven of 12 baskets and four of seven from beyond the arc. D.D. Scarver led the Herd's bench scorers with 19 points. Jonathan Mills added 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the Eagles, while Jerrold Brooks added 12 points.
In shocking the Eagles, Marshall scored as many points in Tuesday's first half as it did in the entire first meeting. It gives the Herd a big boost heading into its regular season finale Saturday, a 5 p.m. contest at East Carolina. With the clock winding down until next week's C-USA tournament, Pittman said the team came to a reckoning. The players didn't want games like their January loss to Southern Miss define their season, and there was time left to turn things around.
"We sat down at practice and talked to each other," Pittman said. "Do we want to keep getting beat by 50 against all these other teams, or do we want to win by 50? We talked to each other and tonight it showed."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.