Feb. 20, 2013
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss was held to its fewest points of the year, but it was still enough to pull out the win, as the Golden Eagles defeated UTEP, 45-39, Wednesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
With the win, Southern Miss clinched a first round bye in next month's Conference USA Tournament. The Golden Eagles improved to 21-6 overall, 10-2 in Conference USA. It is their second straight year with at least 10 C-USA victories and just the third time in history.
It was the first time Southern Miss held a team under 40 points since giving up 36 to UAB in 2002, and the 45 points are the fewest in a win since defeating Jackson State, 44-40, in 1997.
Jerrold Brooks led all scorers with 13 points. Neil Watson had 11 points and six rebounds and Daveon Boardingham had eight points and eight boards. Jonathan Mills added seven rebounds.
Southern Miss trailed 22-16 at the half. Konner Tucker increased UTEP's lead to nine with a three pointer to open the second half. After the teams traded baskets Southern Miss began to chip away at the deficit.
Boardingham hit two free throws and Watson hit one-of-two. Brooks then hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 27-24, just 5:05 into the second half. Julian Washburn hit a jumper to push the lead to five, but a pair of free throws by Boardingham, followed by a jumper from Dwayne Davis made it a one point game.
Jacques Streeter and Cedrick Lang both hit one-of-two free throws to increase the lead to three, but a Brooks three-pointer tied the game at 31 and sent Southern Miss on a 13-0 run, eventually taking a 41-31 lead with 4:04 to play in the game.
UTEP quickly cut the lead to five on a Moore jumper and a Streeter three. Davis pushed the lead back to seven with a jumper, but Streeter's second straight three-pointer cut it to four with 1:46 to play. But, the Golden Eagles would hold UTEP, and two Watson free throws sealed the victory.
The game was a slow affair from the onset. The teams had a pair of possessions before McKenzie Moore hit one-of-two free throws. Daveon Boardingham finally got the Golden Eagles on the board with a layup, 2:40 into the game.
UTEP regained the lead on a Moore jumper, but a layup from Davis followed by a Watson three-pointer gave Southern Miss a 7-3 lead. UTEP tied the game two minutes later, but Watson hit another three to put the Golden Eagles ahead 10-7.
A jumper by Lang and a three from Moore put UTEP on top, 12-10, but a dunk from Boardingham tied it. After two baskets from UTEP, Brooks hit a jumper to make it 16-14 with 6:38 to play in the half.
The teams then went scoreless for the next 2:50, until John Bohannon hit two free throws. UTEP increased its lead to eight on baskets from Julian Washburn and Tucker. But Mills scored to close the half, and Southern Miss trailed 22-16 at the break. It was its fewest points in a half all year.
Southern Miss was held to just 33.3-percent (16-of-48), its worst field goal percentage of the year. The Golden Eagles were also just 5-of-22 from three (22.7%). But UTEP was not much better, shooting 30.0-percent (15-of-50) from the floor and just 4-of-26 (15.4%) from three. Southern Miss also outrebounded the Miners, 36-to-33.
Moore was the only Miner in double-figures, recording a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Southern Miss goes on the road this Saturday, Feb. 23, when it faces Memphis. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT and will be nationally-televised by FoxSportsNet.