Newcomers lead Golden Eagles to season-opening win over SUNO
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Tyree Griffin had 21 points and 13 rebounds, both career-highs, and Dominic Magee added 15 points and seven boards as Southern Miss defeated SUNO 79-69 on Friday night in the season opener.
Griffin, a junior transfer from Oklahoma State, had his only other career double-double in the 2015-16 finale against Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament (11 points, 10 assists). Magee recorded 16 free-throw attempts, the most by a Golden Eagle since Kourtlin Jackson equaled the feat on March 5, 2016.
Both Griffin and Magee, from Grand Canyon, sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Southern Miss led by as much as 71-44 with 9:09 remaining on a three-pointer by LaDavius Draine, the freshman's first career deep ball.
"Any time it's the first game of the year, you aren't gonna be as good as you need to be," head coach Doc Sadler said. "The thing we have to understand is that the faster that ball moves, the better a team we are. When the ball starts sticking in your hands, the defense can make adjustments. I thought in the second half, the defense made better adjustments and we were able to get easier baskets."
The Golden Eagles had an 8-0 run at the end of the first half interrupted by a buzzer-beating jumper from SUNO, making it a 40-27 score at the break. Six of those points came from the foul line.
It was a truly historic night from the charity stripe. Southern Miss' 45 attempts were its most since Feb. 5, 2008 versus UAB.
"I think we can score points, but until we can get into a mentality to be as committed defensively as we need to be, and eliminate mental mistakes on the defensive end, we won't be at our best," Sadler said. "We have a few days, and that's what non-conference season is for. You do all those things and get them corrected so that by the end of December, you are a good defensive team."
The squad also turned 13 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points.
Southern Miss returns to action Thursday night with a big road test at Michigan. Tip-off against the Wolverines is at 6 p.m. CT, and the game will air on Big Ten Plus.
-Starters for the night were Cortez Edwards, D'Angelo Richardson, Tyree Griffin, Tim Rowe and Kevin Holland.
-Griffin's 13 rebounds matched a feat accomplished three times by Southern Miss last season. Quinton Campbell did it twice and Cortez Edwards once.
-Southern Miss attempted just eight three-pointers in the second half after 17 in the first.
-Tim Rowe ended with 10 points in his first action since Dec. 22. He began the 2016-17 season with five consecutive double-digit scoring games and played only eight before suffering a season-ending injury.