MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee hit nine of its first 10 three-pointers to put Southern Miss in an early hole that they couldn't climb out of, as the Golden Eagles dropped its second straight, 81-64, Saturday afternoon.
Reggie Upshaw started things off with a three-pointer. Jerrold Brooks hit a running jumper, but Neiko Hunter and Tweety Knight followed with baskets. Watson and Eason followed with jumpers, but Kerry Hammonds hit the first of five first half three's. Watson answered with a three of his own as Southern Miss trailed, 10-9 through the first 3:45.
However, the Blue Raiders (19-7, 9-2) scored eight straight points with two Hunter three's over the next 2:38 to give MTSU an 18-9 lead. > The teams traded baskets over the next four minutes before MTSU went on a 23-5 run to take a 41-20 lead with 5:39 to play before the half.
A three-pointer from Brooks send Southern Miss on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 14 with 3:56 to play. But Middle Tennessee scored six of the final eight points to take a 47-29 lead heading into halftime.
The Black-and-Gold began the second half much better than the first, as a pair of Watson three-pointers bookened a 10-2 run over the first 3:26 to cut the deficit to 10. The deficit stayed between 10 and 14 points for the next eight minutes.
After Hunter hit a pair of free throws to make it a 12-point game, Southern Miss scored six of the next eight points to pull Southern Miss to within 62-54, with 5:59 remaining.
However, MTSU went on a 9-1 run to push the lead back to 16 and hold on for the victory.
Southern Miss shot 48.9-percent (23-of-47) from the field and 41.7-percent (5-of-12) from three. Middle Tennessee connected on 22-of-41 (53.7-percent) from the floor and 11-of-21 (52.4%) from three.
Hammonds led the Blue Raiders with 26 points and six rebounds. Hunter had 20 points and seven boards and Tweety Knight added eight assists.
Southern Miss begins a three-game homestand next Thursday, February 20, when it hosts UTSA. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.
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