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Men's Basketball Returns to the Road for C-USA Game at UTEP

Jan. 16, 2007

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss continues its string of playing four of five games away from home, Wednesday, when they take on UTEP in an 8:05 p.m., CT Conference USA contest at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.

The Golden Eagles (11-4 overall, 1-1 C-USA) look to rebound from their first home loss of the season, a 75-62 setback to nationally ranked Memphis last Saturday. The loss snapped an 11-game home winning streak.

Southern Miss holds a 1-3 mark away from home in 2006-07, which includes a 57-56 victory over SMU in Dallas last Wednesday.

Sophomore Craig Craft (Raleigh, Miss.) is coming off the best game of his young career for the Golden Eagles in which he scored a career-best 21 points against the Tigers last Saturday, hitting 7-of-10 shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. Craft has played in 43 career games for the Golden Eagles and has tallied a 6.3 scoring average over that time, including a 42.2 percentage shooting (98-of-232) and a 71.1 percentage from the free throw line (32-of-45).

The Golden Eagles continue to be led offensively by freshman Jeremy Wise (Jackson, Miss.). Wise, the only player to start in every game this season, has tallied double digits in points in 13 of 15 contests, including 13 against Memphis. This season, Wise is averaging 15.9 points per game which ranks No. 5 in Conference USA.

Sophomore Courtney Beasley is next in the scoring column for the Golden Eagles at 9.2 points per contest.

Southern Miss faces a UTEP team that had a four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in an 86-79 overtime loss at Tulsa. The Miners (10-7, 2-1) feature four starters from the city of Philadelphia - including Maurice Thomas, Malik Alvin, Stefon Jackson and Marvin Kilgore. Jackson holds down the No. 2 position in Conference USA in scoring at 19.1 points per contest, while Kilgore is next on the club at 10.4.

Under first-year coach Tony Barbee, a former Memphis assistant coach, UTEP holds an 8-4 mark at home this season that totals victories over UC Davis, New Mexico, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Texas State, Toledo, UC Riverside, Marshall and UAB. The home losses have been Texas Tech, Chicago State, New Mexico State and Jackson State.

This will be the eighth meeting between the two schools with UTEP carrying a 5-2 advantage in the series. The Miners have won the last five meetings in the series that dates back to Dec. 29, 1950, including a pair of victories over the Golden Eagles last season in the school's inaugural year in C-USA.

Southern Miss holds a 1-3 in games played in El Paso, but will be making their first appearance here since Dec. 4, 1968.

After the UTEP affair, the Golden Eagles finish this road stretch, Saturday, when they travel to Birmingham for a tilt with UAB. Game time is 1 p.m., at Bartow Arena.

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