CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- THE PREVIOUS TIME Marshall lost a men's basketball game by 56 points, it went out and won the next game.
OK, so the opponent was Roanoke College. It was February 1976 and the Thundering Herd was an independent, scrambling to put together a schedule.
The 118-62 loss at DePaul followed a 104-78 loss at Eastern Kentucky. Under Bob Daniels, the program was a full year away from completing the fall from 20 wins to 19 losses, but the grumbling was well underway. Fifty-something and older Herd fans can tell it better than I can.
Fast-forward 37 years to last week, which nearly became the most up-and-down week in MU hoops history. Wednesday night, the Herd fell behind 47-7 and lost 102-46, scoring 13 fewer points against Southern Mississippi than the football team did a few months earlier.
In this era of rapid-fire social media, the Herd became a national punch line. But three days later, it scared 16,000-plus Memphis fans in a 73-72 loss, MU's best effort in seven road losses to the near-perennial Conference USA champs.
If you're looking for some deep reason why, forget it. I have no way to explain this, and I have no fuel for the "fire everybody" faction of Herd fans. (My next Twitter avatar may "honor" that group. Stay tuned.)
All I can do is (a) thank the good Lord I wasn't in Hattiesburg to witness the Southern Miss game in person and (b) recall some of the other great flame-outs in MU history.
Among those that come to mind includes the 106-57 collapse against Davidson at the Henderson Center on Jan. 27, 1996. That was the second and final Billy Donovan team, complete with Jason Williams at point guard.
That came off an 86-69 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga, hated conference rival of the time. The Herd beat the Mocs three times that season, and also owned a 91-87 win over West Virginia.
To further add to the mystery, the Herd followed the Davidson disaster with a 95-71 win over Furman and a 98-54 hazing of The Citadel. But as entertaining as that MU team was, it fell to Davidson three times, including in the Southern Conference semifinals.
How about February 2002, when the team of Tamar Slay and J.R. VanHoose lost 116-76 at Kent State and 87-52 at Buffalo? That was memorable because those were the two games immediately preceding my start as the Gazette's MU beat writer.
Eleven years later, I still find myself asking, "What have I gotten myself into?"
The season-opening 94-73 loss to the University of Charleston in November 1985 at the Civic Center was epic. That Herd's season ended about as shockingly, with a loss to sixth-seeded East Tennessee State in the league tournament.
But for a purely bad result, 102-46 shall be burned into the minds of many Marshall followers.
In case you missed it, Northern Illinois scored four points in the first half Saturday against Eastern Michigan in a 42-25 loss. The four points broke a shot-clock era record for lowest in the first half, as did the 3.2 percent (1 for 31) field-goal percentage.
The futility from the floor stretched to 1 of 37 before the Huskies broke a 24-minute, 33-second field-goal drought. They rallied to finish the game at 13.1 percent (8 of 61).
Yes, things can always get worse.
With Central Florida coming to town, I am reminded of a memorable Friday night Twitter skirmish last year.
Like many other visiting teams, the Knights landed at either Huntington's Tri-State Airport or Charleston's Yeager Airport, then bused to the Pullman Plaza Hotel in downtown Huntington. Putting their smartphones to good use, they immediately photographed the hotel's rough edges and posted them on Twitter.
Those pictures, with accompanying wisecracks, triggered return fire from Marshall fans who don't care for UCF in the first place. It added a little more flavor to the game the next day, won 65-64 by the Herd.
But that all brings up a question: Is downtown Huntington's flagship hotel in a downturn?
More and more, I keep hearing the answer is yes.