March 24, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball teams travels to Minneapolis, Minn., to face top-seed Missouri in the quarterfinals of the NIT on Tuesday, March 25. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN.
Southern Miss is making its second straight appearance in the NIT Quarterfinals and third overall. The Golden Eagles defeated Vanderbilt, 95-88, in 1987 and fell, 79-62, last year to BYU.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Southern Miss and Minnesota.
Southern Miss comes into the quarterfinals of the NIT with a 29-6 record. The Golden Eagles have won eight of their last nine games after defeating Missouri, 71-63, in the second round.
Senior forward Michael Craig leads the team with 11.2 points and 7.6 boards, which is eighth in C-USA. He is also second in the league in field goal percentage, connecting on 59.9-percent from the floor. Senior guard Neil Watson is scoring 10.2 points. He leads Conference USA and is fourth in the country (as of Mar. 23) in free throw percentage, connecting on 91.7-percent from the charity stripe. He is also eighth in assists (4.0) and is ninth in steals (1.5).
Senior forward Daveon Boardingham is averaging 10.2 points per game and is pulling down 4.7 rebounds per game. He is also connecting on 57.2-percent from the field, which is eighth in C-USA. Junior forward Aaron Brown is scoring 10.0 points and is 10th in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.387) 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 46.4% from the field, which is second in the conference, and 34.9% from three, while allowing 42.3% from the floor and 33.9% from behind the arc.
Southern Miss is also outrebounding its opponents, 35.7-to-29.3, a rebound margin of +6.4, which is 13th in the NCAA (as of Mar. 23). The Black and Gold is second in the league and 16th in the country (as of Mar. 23) with 8.2 steals per game.
Minnesota enters the quarterfinals of the NIT with a 22-13 record. The Golden Gophers defeated St. Mary's in the second round, 63-55.
Junior guard Andre Hollins leads the team with 13.8 points. He is third in the Big Ten Conference in free throw percentage (.844) and sixth in three-point field goals made (2.0). Junior guard DeAndre Mathieu is scoring 12.0 points per game. He is fourth in the league in assists (4.3), tied for sixth in steals (1.6) and eighth in field goal percentage (.503).
Senior guard Austin Hollins is scoring 11.5 points per game and is third in the league in steals (1.9). Junior forward Maurice Walker leads the conference in field goal percentage (.600) and junior center Elliott Eliason is fifth with 6.8 rebounds.
Minnesota is averaging 71.5 points per game while allowing 67.8. The Golden Gophers are connecting on 44.6-percent from the floor and 35.0-percent from three and are allowing 42.5-percent from the field and 34.6-percent from three. Minnesota is outrebounding its opponents, 34.2-to-32.9. UM is second in the league in steals with 7.5.
Head coach Richard Pitino is in his first year as the head of the Minnesota program, where he has a 22-13 (.629) record. In two years as a head coach, Pitino is 40-27 (.597).