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Eagles Head for Starkville; March 14 NIT Battle with Bulldogs




Eagles Head for Starkville; March 14 NIT Battle with Bulldogs

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - For the second time in the James Green coaching era and the eighth-time overall, Southern Miss will

play in the National Invitation Tournament, and for the first time in postseason play will meet intrastate rival Mississippi State.

That first round game is set for 7 p. m., Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum (10,200). The NIT invitation came after the Golden

Eagles did not make it into the NCAA tournament bracket that was announced Sunday afternoon. Conference USA Tournament

winner Charlotte and runner-up Cincinnati will represent the league in the NCAA tournament, while Memphis and Southern Miss

earned NIT spots.

Tickets for the Wednesday game will not be available through the Southern Miss ticket office. Fans should contact the Mississippi

State ticket office for ticket information.

The NIT invite came as welcome, but perhaps somewhat bittersweet, news for the 22-8 Golden Eagles, who recently completed one

of their more successful seasons in recent history with an 11-5 league record, a share of the C-USA regular season title and a

third-place finish in the league tournament. "We’re happy to have the opportunity to continue to play," said Eagle head coach James

Green. "We obviously are disappointed that we did not make the NCAA field. I think our players did everything we asked of them

this season, I’m proud of them, and think they deserved to play in the NCAA.

"But we now have to take advantage of this opportunity. We’ll prepare with the same attitude that we’ve used all year. I know our

players are disappointed, I feel for them, but I also know they’ll bounce back from that disappointment and be ready to play

Wednesday night."

Mississippi State leads Southern Miss 13-4 in a series that started in the 1926-27 season. The two teams have not played since Dec.

16, 1995, when the Bulldogs beat the Golden Eagles 72-69 in overtime in a game played in Green Coliseum.

Southern Miss first played in the NIT at the end of the 1981 season when the Eagles lost 56-54 to Holy Cross in Green Coliseum.

Six times since then, USM has played in the NIT, most recently to end the 1997-98 season when the Golden Eagles dropped a

77-62 decision at Auburn. That list of Southern Miss appearances also includes a five-game run to the championship in 1986-87.

The Eagles opened with a Green Coliseum victory over Ole Miss, then won at Saint Louis and Vanderbilt, before moving on to New

York, where they beat Nebraska and LaSalle to claim the title.

Tickets for the Wednesday game will not be available through the Southern Miss ticket office. Fans should

contact the Mississippi State ticket office for ticket information at 1-888-463-2947.

minute that cut Mississippi State's lead to 67-63 with 1:40 to play.

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