Feb. 15, 2012Jonathan Mills recorded his first career double-double and Southern Miss withstood a furious Tulsa rally before defeating the Golden Hurricane in overtime, 77-69, Wednesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss improves to 22-4 on the year and 9-2 in Conference USA. It also moves to 13-0 at home. Tulsa falls to 15-11 overall, 8-3 in conference play.
Mills scored a career-high 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while also recording two blocks and two steals. He was 6-of-7 from the floor and a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line. Neil Watson scored 18 points, grabbed five rebounds and had four assists. Maurice Bolden had 11 points and Torye Pelham added nine points and 11 boards.
"That was just a great game," said head coach Larry Eustachy. "I haven't been in a better game since I've been here. It was just terrific. You had everything you wanted in this game. These guys are special. It's just a special group. They made gutsy play after gutsy play. I'm really excited. It was just a great, great win for our players and our team."
The game was tied at 66 to begin the overtime period. Southern Miss hit five of six free throws in the first 54 seconds of overtime to take a 71-66 lead. The teams traded possessions over the next minute. After a Southern Miss timeout, Watson nailed a pull-up jumper to extend the lead to 73-66.
Jordan Clarkson was then called for a charge, giving the ball back to the Golden Eagles. Watson drove the lane and had his shot blocked by Clarkson. But, Watson got his own rebound and it back off the glass for a 75-66 lead.
Tim Peete cut the deficit to six with a three-pointer with 1:38 to play. However, Mills rebounded a LaShay Page missed jumper and laid it back with 55 seconds remaining. The Golden Eagles then ran out the clock following a missed shot by Scottie Haralson.
Southern Miss led 34-28 at halftime. USM opened the second half with six straight points to take a 40-28 lead. Tulsa scored five straight points to pull within seven, but the Golden Eagles went on a 12-4 run to take its largest lead of the game, 52-37, with 9:09 to play.
Tulsa took over from that point on. A pair of three-pointers by Haralson and Clarkson bookended a 9-0 to make it a six-point game. Following a jumper by Mills, Tulsa went on its second straight 9-0 run, concluding with a pair of free throws by Clarkson that gave Tulsa a 55-54 lead with 4:17 to play, its first lead since the five minute mark of the first half.
Watson hit one-of-two free throws to tie the game at 55. But Kodi Maduka hit a pair from the charity stripe to give Tulsa a 57-55 lead.
Bolden then hit a jumper, followed by his third three-pointer of the game, giving the Golden Eagles a 60-57 lead with 2:48 to play in regulation.
Steven Idlet hit a jumper, followed by a pair of free throws by Mills. Idlet again pulled the Hurricane to within one, but Watson hit just one-of-two free throws to make it a 63-61 lead with 23 seconds to play.
Clarkson immediately came down the floor and drained a three-pointer to put Tulsa up one with 15 seconds left. Watson was then called for an offensive push off, and Eric McClellan pushed the lead to 66-63 with five second remaining.
But Watson took the inbounds pass, sped down the left side of the court and drained a pull-up three-pointer with five-tenths of a second left to send the game into overtime.
Tulsa was led by Haralson with 19 points. Clarkson scored 17 points and Idlet added 10.
Southern Miss was held to just 37.5-percent shooting (21-of-56) from the field, but was 31-of-35 (88.6%) from the charity stripe. Tulsa connected on 44.6-percent (25-of-56) from the floor 41.2% (7-of-17) from three-point range, but was just 12-of-18 (66.7%) from the free throw line. The Golden Eagles also outrebounded TU, 39-to-34.
Southern Miss begins a two-game road trip this Saturday, February 18, when it travels to Houston. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on CSS.
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