March 18, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball teams enters the 2014 NIT as the third-seed in the Minnesota region. They will face sixth-seed Toledo on Wednesday, March 19. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN3.
Southern Miss is making its 10th NIT appearance and its second straight. That number ranks second in Conference USA, right behind UAB, who has 11 appearances. The Golden Eagles are 8-8 in the event, including 4-2 in Reed Green Coliseum. The eight victories are tied for the third most in C-USA, behind UAB (14) and Tulsa (11).
This will be the first-ever meeting between Southern Miss and Toledo.
Southern Miss enters the NIT with a 27-6 record. The Golden Eagles have won six of their last seven games.
Senior forward Michael Craig leads the team with 11.0 points and 7.4 boards, which is eighth in C-USA. He is also third in the league in field goal percentage, connecting on 59.2-percent from the floor. Senior forward Daveon Boardingham is averaging 10.6 points per game and is pulling down 4.7 rebounds per game. He is also connecting on 58.0-percent from the field, which is sixth in C-USA.
Senior guard Neil Watson is scoring 10.3 points. He leads Conference USA and is third in the country (as of Mar. 16) in free throw percentage, connecting on 93.3-percent from the charity stripe. He is also eighth in assists (4.0) and is ninth in steals (1.5). Junior forward Aaron Brown is scoring 9.8 points and senior guard Jerrold Brooks is adding 9.6 points.
Southern Miss is averaging 72.3 points per game and is second in C-USA in scoring defense, allowing just 62.9 points per game. The Golden Eagles are connecting on 46.5% from the field, which is second in the conference and 34.6% from three, while allowing 42.4% from the floor and 34.0% from behind the arc.
Southern Miss is also outrebounding its opponents, 35.6-to-29.3, a rebound margin of +6.4, which is 14th in the NCAA (as of Mar. 16). The Black and Gold is second in the league and 14th in the country (as of Mar. 16) with 8.3 steals per game.
Toledo enters the NIT with a 27-6 record. The Rockets have won four of their last five games.
Junior guard Julius Brown is seventh in the Mid-American Conference with 14.8 points. He also leads the MAC with 6.1 assists and a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, while placing third in free throw percentage (.867) and fifth in minutes played (33.6). Senior guard Rian Pearson is eighth in the league with 14.7 points per game. He is also eighth in steals (1.7).
Junior guard Justin Drummond is scoring 14.2 points, which is ninth in the MAC. Junior forward J.D. Weatherspoon is averaging 10.8 points and is sixth in the league in field goal percentage (.542) and 10th in rebounding (6.7). Sophomore center Nathan Boothe is scoring 92 points and is 10th in the MAC in blocks (1.1).
Toledo is averaging a league-high 79.8 points per game while allowing 73.5. The Rockets are connecting on 46.7-percent from the floor and 35.1-percent from three, which both lead the MAC. They are allowing 46.1-percent from the field and 35.1-percent from three.
Toledo is outrebounding its opponents, 36.0-to-33.3. The Rockets lead the Mid-American Conference in assists (15.1) and are second in free throw percentage (.726).
Head coach Tod Kowalczyk is in his fourth year as the head of the Toledo program, where he has a 65-64 (.504) record. In 12 years as a head coach, Kowalczyk is 201-176 (.533).
A Message to Fans from Coach Tyndall