A good time was being had by all in green. When Yous Mbao made an appearance after missing 10 games for a concussion, he fouled and, at a timeout, Herrion went up to him and playfully put up his dukes.
Kane tried a long trey near the end of the first half, well, just for the heck of it.
Meanwhile, Tulsa had the other type of evening. Coach Danny Manning drew up a play during a timeout that worked to perfection. Kauri Black found himself wide open for a dunk. And he clanked it.
MU was receiving converted free throws from Spikes, Conference USA's free throw shooting equivalent of Dwight Howard. JP Kambola, who averages 3.9 minutes of playing time, blocked a shot. He had a bucket. He banked in a free throw.
"It was a big momentum boost for us to make that many shots rather than to miss that many," Pittman said with a smile.
"Coach expressed to us having fun," Kane said. "He told us to play with joy. In the locker room he said to have fun and play together."
Herrion was looking for joy after pain.
"Nothing bothers me more than to let this fan base down," said the coach. "That pains me. Tonight we took a step in the right direction."
With a bounce in their step.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.