C-USA BASKETBALL RECAP: UTEP AT SOUTHERN MISS
Southern Miss kicked off the 2018 calendar year with a big home win against UTEP in Hattiesburg on Thursday night - giving them their first conference victory of the season and snapping a four-game losing skid. The game took a while to get going as neither team scored through the first three minutes of play. Once it did, the Golden Eagles never looked back.
The calling card for the Golden Eagles has been their ability to create turnovers and prevent giving the ball up on the offensive end. Throughout the game, swarming team defense forced UTEP into ill-advised passes and overall sloppy offensive play. Southern Miss players combined for 14 steals - leading to an array of easy layups, dunks, and alley-oops on the other end.
Everything went according to plan for Southern Miss. They shot an unconscionable 60% from the floor in the game. They hit threes in key moments - something they have struggled to do all year. Unsung hero Tim Rowe provided dirty work to keep UTEP’s big men off of the glass and control the paint. In the first half, they held UTEP to just 24 points.
For the Miners, it was a matter of their key guys not playing well. Omega Harris and Matt Willms were held to 2 of 7 shooting in the first half, and while they were able to pad the stat sheet a little bit in garbage time, neither provided a consistent presence. You could tell coach Phil Johnson was frustrated as he played 10 different players significant minutes in the hopes of finding a combination that worked.
The silver lining for UTEP is getting scoring contributions from their young guards - namely a 17-point outburst from Isaiah Osbourne. However, those points came largely once the game was out of hand. Though the Miners managed to cut the margin of victory to 10 points, they were down by 22 with less than 5 minutes to go in the game.
Here are the final totals from tonight's game pic.twitter.com/tTSBeFNf3A— UTEPMBB (@UTEP_MBB) January 5, 2018
Junior transfer guard Dominic Magee had one of his best performances of the year on Thursday night. Magee led the Golden Eagles with 21 points on 9 for 11 shooting (3 of 5 from 3PT) and 8 rebounds.
Tyree Griffin struggled scoring early, but provided a huge boost for the Golden Eagles in the second half - scoring 10 straight points during a run that helped blow the game open. Griffin ended the game with 19 points and 6 assists.
Five Southern Miss players ended the game with double figures.
Now sitting at 8 wins, the Golden Eagles need just one more victory to equal their most wins in a season during Doc Sadler’s four-year tenure as head coach.
Other Conference USA Scores
UAB 75, FAU 44
Middle Tennessee 71, FIU 66
UTSA 78, Louisiana Tech 76
Old Dominion 82, Rice 75
Charlotte 70, North Texas 68
Tune in next Thursday as beIN SPORTS heads to Norfolk. The Old Dominion Monarchs (11-3 overall, 2-0 C-USA) host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (10-5 overall, 2-0 C-USA) in a matchup featuring two of Conference USA’s best.