Other players stepped forward, including Chris Martin. Benched in favor of Manning at the point, Martin still played 25 minutes, scoring eight points with two assists and a career-high four steals.
Martin contributed to the Herd's 15 bench points, the most since Nov. 18 at Hofstra. The reserves helped the Herd come back from an early deficit in the first half.
For 2 minutes, 10 seconds, the Herd lineup was Martin, D.D. Scarver, Jamir Hanner, DeVince Boykins and Robert Goff. That quintet brought the Herd back from down 14-6 to behind just 16-14.
"Our bench really ignited us a bit in that first half," Herrion said.
When Savannah State left the Henderson Center without a 3-point goal, it was the first time Marshall blanked an opponent since Dec. 29, 1991 against Penn State in Palm Beach, Fla. - a span of 622 games.
The Nittany Lions only took three in beating coach Dwight Freeman's Marshall team 78-64, so that stat wasn't a credit to the Herd's defense. Wednesday was a different story, as the Herd rekindled recent memories of stinginess from the arc - such as 2010-11, when opponents clanked at a 29.8 percent rate.
"Our first two teams here were top 10, I believe, in 3-point field goal percentage defense," said Herrion, in his third season at MU. "I've been a little bit upset in that area, among many. We haven't guarded the 3 very well, including against Cincinnati when they broke the game open on three or four straight 3s."
Guard Kelvin Amayo took the Gullickson Hall floor Thursday for his first day with the Herd. (The Henderson Center was being used for a women's game.)
Thus begins another subplot for this team's roller-coaster season: How proficient will he be in his belated start to his career, and how well will he mesh with his teammates.
Amayo, a 6-foot-4 native of Riverside N.J., via NIA prep in Newark, signed at Towson but failed to gain initial eligibility in the fall of 2011. He sat out the fall semester entirely, then enrolled at Marshall as a rare mid-year "prop" case. He became eligible Thursday with the posting of fall semester grades.
He was considered a recruiting coup for Towson and not exactly a bad catch for MU. But Herrion warns against unrealistic expectations, especially with Kentucky serving as his probable college debut.
For one thing, Herrion doesn't know what to expect from Amayo. Really.
"I've never, ever been in this situation," Herrion said. "And I'm not speaking negatively about Kelvin, I've just never been in a situation where a kid gets eligible immediately that has never practiced. I've had kids that have transferred, sit-outs, where you practice every day. So this is all new to me, too."
As Herrion talked about preparations for the UK game and for working over an 11-day Christmas break, he referred to Amayo and to the possible return of DeAndre Kane and big man Yous Mbao, the latter still recovering from a practice collision with Goff.
"We'll add a player in the next couple of days," Herrion said, referring to Amayo, "and hopefully get a couple of guys back off the injury shelf in the near future, at some point. That excites me."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.