Jan. 2, 2007
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Courtney Beasley hit the game-winning jumper with 3.2 seconds left to lift Southern Miss to a 56-54 non-conference basketball victory over Southeastern Conference-foe Auburn here Tuesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
The Golden Eagles (10-2) matched their best start since 2000-01, as they won at home for the 11th straight time, going back to last season. It was the first visit by an SEC school here since 1996, and the first win over an institution from that league at Green Coliseum since a 76-69 win over Ole Miss on Dec. 22, 1994.
Jeremy Wise led Southern Miss with a game-high 22 points, hitting 9-of-19 shots from the floor, and Beasley added 11 points. Frank Tolbert and DeWayne Reed paced the visitors with 11 points each.
"We were a lot more aggressive in the second half, after playing more tentative in the first," said third-year coach Larry Eustachy. "We had some terrific defensive stops time-after-time. That was the difference.
"It was the best win we have had here since I've been the coach."
With the score tied, 54-54, following a 3-pointer by Reed to tie the game with 19.3 ticks remaining, the Golden Eagles went down the floor and Beasley connected on a 15-footer from the right baseline to put the home team up for good.
AU (10-5) quickly brought the ball down the other way and Reed's last-second shot from half-court shot bounced off the rim as time expired.
The Golden Eagles shot 43.1 percent from the floor in the contest (22-of-51), while the Tigers converted 43.5 percent 20-of-46). The two teams shot under 30 percent from the 3-point arc and 50 percent from the free throw line.
"We knew it would be a defensive battle tonight," said Tiger coach Jeff Lebo. "We shot the ball poorly in the first half, but defensively we stayed in it. They are a well-coached defensive team.
I thought Wise was terrific. He's what we don't have - a very good perimeter shooter."
In a game that saw eight ties and three lead changes, Wise nailed a jumper to put Southern Miss up 52-46 with 2:36 left, but Auburn cut the cap and tied the game on Reed's 3-pointer as the Golden Eagles converted 2-of-4 free throws in the final two minutes.
In the opening half, with the game tied at 14-14, Wise keyed an 8-4 run by scoring all of the points during that stretch as Southern Miss led 24-20 at the intermission.
The Golden Eagles return to action Saturday when they travel to that state of Georgia to face Savannah State in a 3 p.m. CT. It will be the Golden Eagles final non-conference tilt of the game.
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