Jan. 16, 2013
DALLAS, Texas - Southern Miss erased a 19-point first half deficit and then hung on down the stretch to defeat SMJ, 74-70, Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum.
Southern Miss has won its last six games. The 19-point comeback is the second biggest in Southern Miss history. With the win, the Golden Eagles improve to 14-4 overall, 3-0 in Conference USA. It is the first time that Southern Miss has started 3-0 in Conference USA.
"Obviously, we didn't start the way we wanted to," said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. "But once we started to make some shots and get our defense going, we started to play a lot better. We got the big three right before the half, which gave us a little bit of momentum. And we started the second half with the energy level that we're supposed to play with. We knew that SMU would come back. They're the most physical team in the conference. But we were able to hold them off down the stretch.
SMU scored the first four points of the game, but Mills and Daveon Boardingham hit a pair of layups to tie the game at four just 2:11 into the game. However, Southern Miss went cold, missing its next 10 shots, as the Mustangs went on a 17-1 run over the next 7:02 to take a 21-5 lead.
After a layup by Boardingham, Shawn Williams scored five straight points off a three-pointer and a layup to give SMU its largest lead of the half, 26-7, with 8:02 to play in the half.
But the Golden Eagles slowly made their way back into the game. Davis hit a three-pointer and Brooks scored off a steal to make it 26-12. After a jumper by Jalen Jones, Southern Miss scored seven straight points, including five straight from Davis, to pull with nine points, 28-19 with 3:40 to play.
The teams traded baskets and SMU hit two-of four free throws to push the lead back to 11 with 46 seconds left. McGill then hit a layup and after an SMU turnover, Brooks hit a three at the buzzer to send Southern Miss into the half down just 32-26.
The Golden Eagles continued its pressure in the second half. Neil Watson hit a layup followed by a Davis three-pointer to cut the deficit to one. After Jalen Jones hit one-of-two free throws, Watson drained a three-pointer to give Southern Miss its first lead of the game, 34-33.
After Jones hit a three to put SMU back on top, Rashard McGill scored eight straight points to lead Southern Miss on a 14-2 run to give the Golden Eagles their biggest lead of the game, 48-38, with 13:58 to play in the game.
SMU pulled to within six, but Watson's second three-pointer pushed the lead back to nine. But the Mustangs would not go away, going on a 10-4 run to cut the deficit to 57-53 with 7:08 to play.
Following a three-pointer by Brooks, SMU hit five straight free throws to pull within one point, 60-59, with 5:46 remaining in the game. But Southern Miss scored eight of the next 10 points to push the lead back out to 68-61.
Ryan Manuel hit one-of-two free throws and SMU forced two straight turnovers, scoring after each to make it a 68-66. The teams traded baskets, but with 34 seconds left, Boardingham took a pass from Davis a connected on a three-point play that gave Southern Miss a 73-68 lead and sealed the victory.
Southern Miss was 28-of-57 (49.1-percent) from the field, including 73.9-percent in the second half. The Golden Eagles also hit 46.2-percent (12-of-26) from three-point range. SMU connected on 46.9-percent (23-of-49) from the floor and 46.7-percent (7-of-15) from three. The Mustangs also outrebounded Southern Miss, 33-to-27.
Jones led SMU with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Shawn Williams scored 17 points, Ryan Manuel had 14 and Nick Russell added 11.
Southern Miss returns home for two games, beginning this Saturday, Jan. 19, when it hosts UAB. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT.
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