March 11, 2008
• C-USA Championship Central
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss opens the Conference USA Tournament Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. (CT) when they face 12th-seeded Rice. The tournament is being played in Memphis, Tenn. at FedEx Forum.
The Golden Eagles (17-13) are 6-10 all-time in the tournament. Southern Miss had its best showing at the 1997-98 tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Eagles defeated Houston and Memphis before falling to Charlotte in the semifinals.
Southern Miss and Rice will face each other for just the sixth time in a series that dates back to 1975, and the second time this year. The Owls lead the series, 3-2. This will be the first time the teams will meet on a neutral court, as well as the first meeting in the Conference USA Tournament. Last year, On January 26, the Golden Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak to Rice, winning 71-53 in Hattiesburg.
The Golden Eagles are led by guard Jeremy Wise. The sophomore leads the team in scoring with 19.0 points per game. Right behind him is freshman R.L. Horton with 11.8, junior Courtney Beasley with 11.1. Craig Craft and Sai'Quon Stone are at 8.4 points, while Stone leads the team with 5.6 rebounds.
Earlier this year, Southern Miss defeated Rice in Hattiesburg, 71-53. Four players scored in double-figures for the Golden Eagles, led by Jeremy Wise and Sai'Quon Stone with 17 points. R. L. Horton added 15 points and Courtney Beasley chipped in 10. Craig Craft led the Golden Eagles on the boards, pulling down nine rebounds.
Rice (3-26) enters tonight's first round game with a 3-26 overall record, 0-16 in conference, and has lost their last 16 games. The Owls are led by guard Rodney Foster. The junior currently leads the team with 11.2 points and 3.2 assists. Senior forward Paulius Packevicius is averaging 11.1 points and a team-leading 9.8 rebounds. Senior forward Patrick Britton is also scoring 11.1 points.
The Owls are coming off a 61-58 loss against SMU. Lawrence Ghoram had a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds, while Britton added 16 points in the loss.
With a win, Southern Miss will face fourth-seed UCF, tomorrow night, March 13, at 8:30 p.m. in the Quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament