DENTON, Texas - Southern Miss used an 11-0 second half run to pull away from North Texas and win its fourth straight Conference USA opener, 74-64, Thursday night.
Michael Craig led the way with a career-high 21 points and seven rebounds. Daveon Boardingham had 11 points and six rebounds and Deonte Houston added a career-high 10 points and Jeremiah Eason grabbed nine rebounds.
Southern Miss came out hot, connecting on seven of its first nine shots as it jumped out to a 19-7 lead through the first nine minutes. North Texas scored six straight points to cut the deficit to six, but Eason connected on a three-point play to push the lead back to nine.
The teams traded baskets and Chris Jones hit three-of-four free throws to cut the lead to six. But, Craig hit two free throws and then a jumper.
After T.J. Taylor hit one-of-two from the charity stripe, Houston hit just his second three-pointer of the year. Taylor followed with a three of his own, but a jumper from Houston followed by a pair of free throws from Boardingham pushed the lead to 13.
Jordan Williams hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 10, but a jumper from Aaron Brown, followed by one from Houston with four seconds remaining in the half sent Southern Miss into halftime with a 39-25 lead.
However, the Golden Eagles missed their first 10 shots of the second half, until Craig hit a layup eight minutes into the half to make it 44-38. Alzee Williams hit one-of-two free throws and Vertrail Vaughns hit a layup to make it a three-point game. Southern Miss then got six cracks from the line, making four of them for a 48-41 lead.
Maurice Aniefiok and Alzee Williams both hit layup. Houston made one-of-two from the line, but Aniefiok drained a three to cut the lead to 49-48 with 9:34 to play.
But, the Black and Gold went on an 11-0 run over the next 2:46 to take a 60-48 lead. The Mean Green would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
"Before the season, the things that we talked about that was our Achilles heel were turnovers and giving up second shots, and tonight, they reared their ugly head," said head coach Donnie Tyndall. "But we'll go back and watch the film and shore some things up, because we just weren't ourselves tonight."
Southern Miss shot 46.7-percent (21-of-45) from the floor and 4-of-12 (33.3%) from three. It also hit a season-high 84.8-percent (28-of-33) from the line. North Texas connected on 24-of-57 (42.1%) from the field and just 26.7-percent (4-of-15) from three. The Golden Eagles also outrebounded NT, 36-to-30.
Jordan Williams led North Texas with 17 points and Aniefiok added 12.
Southern Miss continues on the road this Sunday, January 12, when if takes on Tulsa in a nationally-televised tilt. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT and will be broadcast by Fox Sports 1.
|Follow Southern Miss Athletics:||Follow @SouthernMissMBB|