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Flowers Leads Southern Miss to 85-73 Victory in C-USA Opener over Houston

Gary Flowers (File Photo)

Gary Flowers (File Photo)

Jan. 5, 2011

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Senior forward Gary Flowers recorded his second straight double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as Southern Miss defeated Houston, 85-73, in its Conference USA opener Wednesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.

With the win, Southern Miss improves to 12-2, 1-0 in C-USA. Houston falls to 8-6, 0-1 in conference. It is also the first conference-opening victory since the 2006-07 season.

Flowers was 10-of-15 from the floor, and connected on a career-high four three-pointers. Junior guard had his best night of the year, scoring 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting. It was the second highest scoring output of his career. It is also the first time two Golden Eagles scored 20 points since Jeremy Wise and Courtney Beasley accomplished the feat against UAB in 2009. Senior guard R.L. Horton added 18 points while thing a career-high with six assists.

"I thought it was a great win," said Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy. "We gave up way too many easy baskets off the transition. You look at some of these lines - (Maurice) Bolden was 9-of-11, (Gary) Flowers was 10-of-15, (R.L.) Horton was 6-of-10. We shot the ball very well. Overall, under these circumstances, it was just a very, very good win."

Houston led 38-36 at the break. However, Flowers took the game over, scoring Southern Miss' first 15 points of the second half, including all four treys, as the Golden Eagles opened the second stanza on a 19-4 run over the first 6:18.

Southern Miss led by as many as 15 in the second half. However, Kirk Van Slyke came off the bench to hit three straight three's to bring the Cougars within seven points, 78-71, with 2:18 remaining. But, that's as close as they would get.

Flowers opened the scoring with a jumper, but Houston scored the next seven points as the Black and Gold missed its next six shots. Southern Miss came back to tie the game, and take the lead at 13-11 on a jumper by Horton with 11:53 left in the half. But the teams traded leads, as there were seven lead changes in the first half.

Southern Miss took a 28-24 lead on two free throws and a lay-up by Bolden, but the Cougars went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:44 for a 31-28 lead with 3:03 remaining. The teams then traded baskets the rest of the half.

Adam Brown led Houston with 20 points. Maurice McNeil scored 12 and Zamal Nixon added 10 points and a game-high eight assists.

Southern Miss shot 55.6-percent (30-of-54), including 64.0% in the second half. Houston connected on 56.5-percent (26-of-46) for the game, including 61.5% in the first half. The Golden Eagles were red hot from the free throw line, hitting 19-of-21 (90.5%) from the charity stripe. USM also outrebounded UH, 26-to-22.

Southern Miss will head to the road for two games, beginning with this Saturday, January 8, at Marshall. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT.

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