Feb. 27, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - For the second time in two weeks, the Southern Miss men's basketball team will face nationally-ranked Memphis. The Golden Eagles travel to FedExForum to face the No. 4 Tigers, Saturday, Feb. 28. The game will be televised regionally on CSS. Tip-off is set for Noon CT.
Southern Miss and Memphis will meet for the 81st time on the hardwood, with Memphis holding a 57-23 advantage in the Golden Eagles longest running rivalry. In Memphis, the Tigers hold a 37-7 lead. Southern Miss is looking for its first win since 2004, as the Tigers have won the last 11 meetings. Earlier this year, Memphis defeated the Eagles, 72-47, in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss has never beaten Memphis when they are ranked, dropping all 18 decisions.
Southern Miss enters Saturday afternoon's game with a 14-13 record, 4-9 in C-USA. The Golden Eagles have lost seven of their last eight games.
If you ask Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy, he will say he is more disappointed than anyone with the outcome of this season. "This season has been very frustrating, not only for the coaches and fans, but also for the team," said Eustachy. "Every day we are working hard to get back on track, and I am very proud of our team's efforts, especially because we had a small group due to the unfortunate adversity of some of our players. I am not making any excuses, and I hold myself accountable for this year's results. I could not ask more from the players who have given as much as they can give. I am very proud of their hard work, and we will continue to compete and play hard until the end of the season. I apologize to the administration and fans for this year's results and will continue to work toward the success of the Golden Eagle program.
Eustachy continued, "The university, fans and administration have been so supportive. I am part of the Golden Eagle family and I want the team and program to succeed more than anyone else does. To that end, until I can turn around the program I have told the administration that I do not want a contract extension and I will donate part of my compensation package back to Southern Miss to help during these difficult economic times. I want to win a championship at Southern Miss and I know that we can do it."
"The administration is supporting Larry Eustachy's efforts because our goal is the same, and that is to see the program grow and succeed, and I believe he is the coach that will make it happen," said Richard Giannini, Director of Athletics. The quality of players returning next year, along with the new recruiting class, puts Southern Miss in a position to move the program back to the top half of Conference USA. The newly renovated facility is attracting high quality players and the basketball program will finally be able to showcase them and return to post-season play."
Southern Miss just completed $11.1 million of renovations to Reed Green Coliseum in September. It's been the first major work done to the building since it opened in the late 1960's. State of the art locker rooms, training room, weight room, player lounge, academic space and an office complex were included.
Southern Miss is coming off a 73-59 defeat to Tulane Tuesday night. Junior guard Jeremy Wise led Southern Miss with 16 points. Sophomore guard R.L. Horton scored 14 and had four assists. Senior guard Craig Craft contributed 10 points and five rebounds. Senior guard Courtney Beasley added nine points and a team-high 13 rebounds, while junior forward Andre Stephens had seven points and nine rebounds.
Wise is ninth in the conference with 16.0 points per game, while being fourth in the conference with 4.78 assists. Beasley is 12th with 14.8 points and ninth with 7.0 rebounds. Horton is adding 12.7 points and Craft is contributing 11.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles are averaging 67.0 points per game, while allowing 66.7. Southern Miss is hitting 72.4-percent of its free throws and grabbing 34.4 rebounds. USM is currently second in the country in turnovers per game, committing just 9.9.
Memphis enters today's game with a 25-3 record, 13-0 in conference play and ranked fourth in the nation. The Tigers have won their last 19 games, including a 71-60 victory over UAB Thursday night.
Junior guard Doneal Mack led Memphis with 17 points and senior guard Antonio Anderson scored 16 points. Junior forward Shawn Taggart added 13 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Robert Dozier contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman guard Tyreke Evans is seventh in the conference with 16.8 points while pulling down 5.3 rebounds. Dozier is second on the team with 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. Anderson is sixth in the league with 4.11 assists while contributing 10.7 points. Taggert is seventh in C-USA with 7.3 rebounds, while also scoring 10.3 points.
As a team, the Tigers are shooting 44.3-percent while allowing its opponents to shoot just 37.4-percent from the field. Memphis is scoring 76.0 points per game while allowing a league-best 59.1 points. The Tigers are also tops in C-USA with 39.1 boards.
Head Coach John Calipari is in his ninth season at the helm of the Memphis men's basketball program. He has compiled a 244-68 (.782) record during his tenure as head coach. In 17 years, Calipari has a 437-139 (.759) overall record.
Southern Miss closes out the two-game road trip this Wednesday, when they travel to Dallas, Texas to face SMU. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.
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