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Golden Eagles Advance Past Mustangs

March 7, 2007

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Jarvis Hill led three Southern Miss players in double figures with 16 points and added a team-high nine rebounds to lead the Golden Eagles to a 59-52 Conference USA Basketball Championship Presented by Aeropostale first-round victory over SMU here Wednesday afternoon at the FedExForum.

The Golden Eagles (20-10) captured their first 20-win season since 2000-01 and the 13th overall in their 88-year history. The win was the third straight for the Golden Eagles and sixth in the last eight for Southern Miss.

It was the second year in a row the Golden Eagles, the No. 6 seed, has won its opening-round game.

Freshman Jeremy Wise added 15 points for the Golden Eagles, while Courtney Beasley tallied 11.

SMU, the No. 11 seed, got 13 points from Devon Pearson and 11 each from Dez Willingham and Jon Killen as they ended their season with a 14-17 record.

The Golden Eagles found themselves 19-17 after a layup by Devon Pearson, but Craig Craft answered with a 3-pointer just 21 seconds later to give Southern Miss advantage and they never trailed again in the contest.

After leading 32-28 at the half, Southern Miss extended the lead to as much as 10 point in the second half, at 52-42, after a Hill 3-pointer with 4:50 left. The Golden Eagles also got 3-of-4 free throws from Hill and 2-of-2 from Wise in the final minute to help keep the lead.

Southern Miss got outrebounded for just the eighth time this season, 36-35, but won for the third time when that has happened.

"We are just not happy to be here," said third-year coach Larry Eustachy, who captured his 301st career victory. "We are trying to win it. We went with our smaller lineup today and I thought they really came through in the second half. We won a game we were expected to win and move on. It will be a different situation tomorrow."

Southern Miss returns to action, Thursday, with a quarterfinal matchup with the No. 3 seeded Houston Cougars (16-14 overall, 10-6 C-USA). Game time is set for 2:30 p.m., and can be heard on one of the affiliates of the Southern Miss/ISP Sports Network or via television on CSTV (Comcast Channel 274 in the Hattiesburg area).

Conference USA Men's Basketball Championship Presented by Aeropostale Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Game 2 - No. 6 Southern Miss 59, No. 11 SMU 52

Southern Miss Head Coach Larry Eustachy
"I really like the attitude of these three guys next to me (Jarvis Hill, Jeremy Wise and Sai'Quon Stone). They put the game away and they are thinking about the next one. We are just not happy to be here. We are trying to win it. We went with our smaller lineup today and I thought they really came through in the second half. We won a game we were expected to win and move on. It will be a different situation tomorrow."

"I think SMU and Matt Doherty finally got his whole team together today. He has had some bad luck this year.

"Houston is a Preseason top 25 in some polls and we beat them at our place. I am sure they are aware of that and want some redemption tomorrow. We played our game in the second half and we played it better in the second half. We got to the basket and put them in situations to foul us. I thought Jeremy Wise and Jarvis Hill were in a three-point shooting contest late in the game but they are young and are learning. We were more aggressive in the second half."

Freshman Guard Sai'Quon Stone

On playing in his first C-USA Tournament Game ...
"I kind of had a few butterflies in my stomach. After the tip-off, I missed my first lay-up, and then you know I got kind of used to it. After I heard coach screaming, I kind of started to feel comfortable."

SMU Head Coach Matt Doherty

"I'm proud of these guys. For a new coach to come in with a new staff, these guys from day one embraced what we are trying to do. I really wanted to coach them a few more days, a few more weeks, because they are a pleasure to work with. They represent SMU in a great manor and will continue to so going forward."

"When you look at the stat sheet, the big difference to me was the ball didn't go in the hoop for us. You don't shoot 36 percent, 28 from the three and 53 from the foul line; especially from the foul line. I thought rebounding wise, turnover wise and defensively wise (we were good). If there was one guy you say hurt us, (Jarvis) Hill made timely shots. Other than that we were pretty good defensively. At the end of the day, the ball has to go in the hoop. It didn't for us today."

"Last year the shooting percentages weren't great either. Part of it is it may be who we are at times. Other parts of it is, the ball doesn't go in. You can credit the defense sometimes and look at the tape. Southern Miss is a very good defensive team. But I still feel we had some open looks that we didn't make. Obviously, they concentrated highly on Ike (Ofoegbu). Ike only had four shots. We needed to make some perimeter shots to loosen of the interior a little bit. I don't think the ball went down. I think we had good looks, it just didn't go through the hoop."

SMU Senior Forward Devon Pearson

"I believe we have laid the foundation for Coach Doherty's future players and the future of SMU basketball. We came in embraced everything he said and took it all in. I think the players of the future will see what we did and hopefully try to do better than we did this year."

SMU Senior Forward/Center Donatas Rackauskas

"We're happy to see where the program is going, and I'm definitely looking forward to next year to seeing Coach Doherty and SMU making the headlines in Dallas."

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