March 21, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball teams travels to Columbia, Mo., to face second-seed Missouri in the second round of the NIT on Sunday, March 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPNU.
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 9-8 in the event, but just 2-6 on the road. The nine victories are the third most in C-USA, behind UAB (14) and Tulsa (11).
This will be the first-ever meeting between Southern Miss and Missouri.
Southern Miss comes into the second round of the NIT with a 28-6 record. The Golden Eagles have won seven of their last eight games after defeating Mid-American Conference champion Toledo, 66-59, in the opening round.
Senior forward Michael Craig leads the team with 11.2 points and 7.5 boards, which is eighth in C-USA. He is also second in the league in field goal percentage, connecting on 59.7-percent from the floor. Senior forward Daveon Boardingham is averaging 10.5 points per game and is pulling down 4.7 rebounds per game. He is also connecting on 58.3-percent from the field, which is sixth in C-USA.
Senior guard Neil Watson is scoring 10.5 points. He leads Conference USA and is fourth in the country (as of Mar. 20) in free throw percentage, connecting on 91.5-percent from the charity stripe. He is also eighth in assists (3.9) and is ninth in steals (1.5). Junior forward Aaron Brown is scoring 9.8 points and is 10th in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.382) and senior guard Jerrold Brooks is adding 9.7 points.
Southern Miss is averaging 72.1 points per game and is second in C-USA in scoring defense, allowing just 62.8 points per game. The Golden Eagles are connecting on 46.5% from the field, which is tops in the conference, and 34.7% from three, while allowing 42.4% from the floor and 33.6% from behind the arc.
Southern Miss is also outrebounding its opponents, 35.7-to-29.3, a rebound margin of +6.5, which is 13th in the NCAA (as of Mar. 20). The Black and Gold is second in the league and 16th in the country (as of Mar. 20) with 8.2 steals per game.
Missouri enters the second round of the NIT with a 23-11 record. The Tigers defeated Big South Conference champion Davidson in the opening round, 85-77.
Junior guard Jabari Brown leads the SEC with 20.1 points. He also leads the league in minutes played (36.9), is third in three-point field goal percentage (.406), seventh in field goal percentage (.472) and eighth in free throw percentage (.798).
Junior guard Jordan Clarkson is seventh in the conference with 17.6 points per game. He is also third in minutes played (35.1), fourth in free throw percentage (.832), seventh in assists (3.3) and ninth in field goal percentage (.451). Senior guard Earnest Ross is scoring 13.8 points per game. He is 10th in the league in steals (1.3). Freshman forward Johnathan Williams leads Missouri with 6.5 rebounds and is sixth in the SEC in blocks (1.6).
Missouri is averaging 73.2 points per game while allowing 69.7. The Tigers are connecting on 45.8-percent from the floor and 34.0-percent from three and are allowing 41.4-percent from the field and 33.0-percent from three. Missouri is outrebounding its opponents, 37.2-to-32.1, a rebound margin of +5.1, which is third in the SEC. The Tigers lead the league in free throw percentage (.742).
Head coach Frank Haith is in his third year as the head of the Missouri program, where he has a 71-27 (.724) record. In 12 years as a head coach, Haith is 200-138 (.592).