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Southern Miss faces first-place Middle Tennessee on Saturday

Jan. 12, 2018

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Golden Eagle men's basketball team has hit the road from Birmingham to take on its next foe, battling Middle Tennessee on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT.

The game will stream on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app, and fans can also catch John Cox's call on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network (Rock 104.5) and the USM Gameday app.

The Blue Raiders are 12-4, 4-0 in C-USA, while Southern Miss is 9-9, 2-3.

– The Golden Eagles dropped an 86-75 decision on Thursday at UAB. The squad rallied from a 22-point deficit at the eight-minute mark to get within nine at 2:37, but the Blazers prevailed on their home floor.

LaDavius Draine truly exploded onto the scene in Thursday’s game. The freshman out of small Calhoun City, Miss., scored a career-high 19 points (in 23 minutes off the bench) on 8-for-11 shooting with three triples. Entering the night, he had played just nine minutes since November with a total of 30 points in 79 minutes for the season.

Tyree Griffin was electric on all fronts, scoring 14 points in the first half for an eventual career-high 23, matching his total from the Dec. 10 win over Troy. He made five of his six long-range attempts and also added seven assists. Only twice this season has Griffin been held to fewer than five dimes.

– Southern Miss’ 14 steals against UTEP on Jan. 4 were also most against a Division I team in the Doc Sadler era. It also had 16 versus Rust on Dec. 3. The Golden Eagles have a 140-72 advantage in steals this season after a combined 616-479 deficit in Sadler’s first two seasons. Cortez Edwards ranks No. 9 nationally with 42 swipes on the season, just three off his total from last season.

– Last year’s game against the Blue Raiders saw the Golden Eagles hold an 18-16 lead before a 17-3 run put the eventual C-USA champs up for good. Edwards posted a then-career-high 21 points, including seven in the first two minutes of the second half, and Southern Miss also held Middle Tennessee to just two free-throw attempts.

Kevin Holland, who on Saturday had just the second perfect-shooting game in program history (min. eight attempts), followed up his feat with five three-pointers on eight tries against UAB. It is the third time this season and fourth of his career he has made five in a game. Over his last four outings, Holland is 17-for-25 from beyond the arc and ranks first in C-USA for percentage (53 percent).

– Southern Miss had 30 of its 35 free-throw attempts in Saturday’s second half, with D’Angelo Richardson going 10-for-10 at the line. UAB, however, kept the Golden Eagles to just two attempts on the night. Southern Miss countered with 15 three-pointers, its most in a game since the 2015-16 finale at Marshall.

– Southern Miss has risen to fifth and sixth nationally for fewest turnovers per game (9.6) and assist-turnover ratio (1.62). Against WKU, the squad committed no turnovers in the second half. Florida State has been the only team so far to edge the Black and Gold in the turnover battle. Southern Miss’ 21 assists at UAB marked its most against a Division I team since Feb. 26, 2015 versus UTSA. It also had 32 versus Rust on Dec. 3, 2017.

– Saturday’s win over UTSA marked the first time in seven games that the Golden Eagles did not have a higher second-half shooting percentage than the first, and Thursday’s game at UAB saw a return to old form. Southern Miss shot 39 and then 58 percent over the two halves. With the exception of the UTSA game, Southern Miss has shot 34.3 percent in every first half dating back to Dec. 16 with a 52.1 percent clip in those second halves.

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