Men's Basketball travels to UTEP for final regular-season road game
EL PASO, Texas -- The Southern Miss men's basketball team will play its final regular-season road game of the season Saturday night when it battles UTEP. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. CT.
Fans can follow the action via the CUSA.tv video stream, as well as John Cox's call on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network (Rock 104.5 in Hattiesburg/Laurel) and USM Gameday app.
-- The last time these two teams squared off, back on Jan. 4, Southern Miss produced highly impressive feats on both ends of the floor. The Golden Eagles shot 60.3 percent, its best in a game since Jan. 3, 2015, which included a 74.1 percent clip in the second half (20-for-27, with the team shooting 16-for-18 inside the arc). Dominic Magee led the way with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting. Defensively, the team's 14 steals remain its most against a Division I team in Doc Sadler's four years at the helm. The home team has won seven consecutive games in the head-to-head series.
-- Sadler was the UTEP head coach from 2004-06, leading the team to a WAC Championship and NCAA trip his first season before an NIT bid the following campaign. He was also an assistant for Billy Gillespie during the 2003-04 season. Omar Thomas, serving his first year as the Director of Basketball Operations, played for Sadler at UTEP and averaged 18 ppg over his two seasons. He was named to the All-WAC Tournament team in 2005 as well. Southern Miss guard Kevin Holland's father, James, was also an assistant at UTEP for two seasons with Sadler's staff.
-- Southern Miss needs one more league win to continue the trend of Sadler improving the team's C-USA win total in each season he has been at the helm (3-5-6-6). The 13 overall victories are the most by a Golden Eagle team since the 2012 NCAA Tourney squad.
-- The Golden Eagles had a wild game in San Antonio on Thursday night, falling behind 28-6 and 31-9 in the first 13 minutes, yet found themselves down 37-28 at the half and within two at the 10:36 mark. UTSA was able to score 10 consecutive points from there to stave off any future Black and Gold charge.
-- Southern Miss made some of its best defensive adjustments of the year on Thursday, rebounding from the slow start to hold UTSA to its lowest scoring output for a home game on the year (64 points). The 36.7 defensive field goal percentage was also Southern Miss' best since Dec. 16 against William Carey. It was, however, the team's first loss when getting 20 or more free-throw attempts (won previous seven) and just its second when gettng more foul shot attempts than its opponent.
-- With at least three games remaining, Tyree Griffin already has 172 assists (sixth-most in single-season history). With six more dimes, he will have the most by a Golden Eagle since Dallas Dale's 222 in the 1991-92 season. Griffin is currently No. 12 against C-USA foes for scoring (15.7 ppg), fifth in assists (6.2 apg) and third in steals (2.2 spg).
-- Cortez Edwards, a junior, now has 852 points for his career. He is seeking to become the 37th member of Southern Miss' 1,000-point club, and the first to have played under Sadler. Neil Watson was the most recent addition (1,157 points from 2011-14). He is also 18-for-26 (69.2 percent) from the field in his last three games against UTEP.
-- UTEP is coming off a 74-72 win over LA Tech on Thursday in which Matt Willms tipped in the winning bucket with 25 seconds left. The weekend before, the Miners fell 82-33 at Old Dominion and won 87-86 at Charlotte, also featuring a Paul Thomas game-winning jumper with 2.6 ticks left.
-- Southern Miss ranks third and seventh nationally for fewest turnovers per game (9.6) and assist-turnover ratio (1.59). Southern Miss' 23 assists versus Rice were its most against a Division I team since Nov. 27, 2004 versus McNeese State (26). It also had 32 versus Rust on Dec. 3, 2017. The Golden Eagles have posted a positive assist-turnover ratio in each of their last nine games.