March 14, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The ninth-seed Southern Miss men's basketball team will open the 2012 NCAA Tournament this Thursday, Mar.15 against No. 8 Kansas State in the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:40 a.m. CT and the game will be nationally-televised on truTV.
Southern Miss enters the NCAA Tournament with a 25-8 record. It is its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991.
Southern Miss and Kansas State will meet on the hardwood for just the seventh time, with the series tied at three. This will be the third meeting on a neutral court, with the Wildcats winning the first two. This will also be the first meeting since Kansas State won 74-55 in the 2008 K-State Holiday Challenge.
Neil Watson is leading the team with 12.2 points per game. He is connecting on 84.0-percent of his free throws, which is third in C-USA and is also second in assists (4.5). LaShay Page is second on the team with 11.5 points. He also leads the league in minutes played (36.7), is third in three-pointers made (2.3) and is eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.355). Darnell Dodson is scoring 11.1 points while pulling down 4.7 rebounds.
Maurice Bolden is scoring 9.9 points while grabbing 5.3 rebounds. He is also 10th in the league with 1.1 blocks per game. Jonathan Mills is also scoring 9.7 points and leads the team with 6.2 rebounds.
As a team, Southern Miss is scoring 71.6 points and is allowing just 64.9. The Golden Eagles are hitting just 41.6-percent of their shots and 35.8% of their three-pointers. Their opposition is connecting on 44.2% from the field and 35.2-percent from behind the arc. The Golden Eagles hold the advantage on the boards, as they are outrebounding their opponents 36.7-to-32.1, a difference of 4.6 per game, good for third on Conference USA. The Golden Eagles are also leading the league in free throw percentage (.736).
Head coach Larry Eustachy is in his eighth season at the helm of the Southern Miss men's basketball program. He has compiled a 142-112 (.559) record during his time as head coach. In 21 years, Eustachy has an overall record of 402-257 (.610).
Kansas State enters the NCAA Tournament with a 21-12 record and finished fifth in the Big XII with a 10-8 record.
Junior forward Jordan Henriquez led KSU with 22 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Junior guard Rodney McGruder scored 14 points and four rebounds and freshman guard Angel Rodriguez had 12 points and three steals. Senior forward Jamar Samuels added 10 points.
The Wildcats are led by McGruder with 15.4 points, which is seventh in the Big XII. He is also second on the team with 5.3 rebounds. He is ninth in the league in free throw percentage (.804) and three-point field goal percentage (.390) and 10th in field goal percentage (.456). Samuels is second on the team with 10.3 points. He is also eighth in in the Big XII in rebounding (6.6). Henriquez is second in the conference in blocks (2.3) and Rodriguez is seventh in steals (1.4).
As a team, Kansas State is scoring 71.4 points per game while allowing 63.7, which is third in the Big XII. The Wildcats are shooting 44.3% and allowing just 40.8-percent from the floor, which is second in the conference. KSU is also connecting on 34.2-percent from three-point range and is allowing 31.8%. Kansas State also leads the league in rebounding, pulling down 37.3 boards per game while giving up 32.4.
Head coach Frank Martin is in his fifth season at the helm of the Kansas State men's basketball program. He has compiled a 116-53 (.686) record as its head coach.
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