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Southern Miss Hosts Spring Hill in 2011-12 Regular Season Opener

Angelo Johnson is the Golden Eagles leading returning scorer.

Nov. 11, 2011

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball team opens its 2011-12 regular season this Saturday, Nov. 12, when it hosts Spring Hill. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT from Reed Green Coliseum.

All fans are welcome as admission is free for the game.

Southern Miss will be opening its season at home for the 37th time and the first time in four years. In those games, the Golden Eagles are 30-6, and have won the last 15. In season openers the the Golden Eagles are 41-25 and have won 13 of the last 14, including the last six. In home openers, the Black and Gold is 54-12 and have won 17 of 18, including the last five.

Southern Miss and Spring Hill will meet for the 67th time, with the Golden Eagles holding a 49-17 advantage. Southern Miss has won the last 17 meetings. The teams have met the last seven years after not playing the previous 32 years. The Black and Gold have won those games by an average of 30.0 points per game.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a 78-53 victory over William Carey in their exhibition finale on Tuesday. The Golden Eagles placed four players in double-figures, led by Rashard McGill with 16 points. The Havana, Fla., native was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. Maurice Bolden recorded 13 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while LaShay Page scored 13 points on three three-pointers. Torye Pelham added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and grabbed five boards.

The 2011-12 edition of the Southern Miss basketball team returns just two starters and six letterwinners from last year's squad that went 22-10.

Heading the list of returnees is redshirt senior Angelo Johnson. Johnson will run the point for the Eagles, but can also play the two-guard. The Minneapolis, Minn. native has started 64 of 66 games in his career. Johnson is the team's leading returning scorer, averaging 7.5 points and 4.1 assists. He also led Conference USA with a 3.1 assist/turnover ratio.

Redshirt senior Maurice Bolden will see time at guard and small forward. Bolden started 12 games last year, averaging 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, good for third on the team. Junior LaShay Page returns, having played in 27 games last year, starting one. He averaged 6.2 points and connected on 34-percent from behind the arc. Redshirt freshman Cedric Jenkins also returns after seeing time in just four games.

Redshirt senior Torye Pelham is the Golden Eagles leading returning forward. Pelham averaged 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds through the first seven games before missing the rest of the season due to a broken wrist. Senior Ahyaro Phillips also returns to the squad. Phillips played in 25 games last year, starting two. He averaged 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds last year while playing 8.9 minutes a game.

Six newcomers join the Golden Eagles this year. Junior college transfers Neil Watson (Kansas City, Kan./Coffeyville CC), Rashard McGill (Havana, Fla./Tallahassee CC), Jonathan Mills (Chicago, Ill./College of Eastern Utah) and Keith DeWitt (High Point, N.C./Chipola JC) will be joined by freshman Christian Robbins (Foxworth, Miss.) and walk-on Richard Carlisle (Meridian, Miss.).

Head coach Larry Eustachy enters his eighth season at the helm of the Southern Miss men's basketball program. He has compiled a 117-104 (.529) record during his time as head coach. In 20 years, Eustachy has an overall record of 377-249 (.602).

Spring Hill enters the game with a 1-1 record on the season. The Badgers defeated Southern-New Orleans on Thursday, 84-82.

Spring Hill welcomes back seven returning players from last season, while bringing in 10 new faces and to help rebuild after a 9-18 record in the 2010-11 season.

Head Coach Robert Thompson's veteran players include senior point guard Tyler Schwab of Panama City, Fla., who handed out 102 assists and scored 7.1 points per game last season and senior guard Steve Edwards of Newton, Miss., who averaged 8.6 points per night. Guard Charles Gordon of Birmingham, Ala., (7.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg), center Blake Taylor of Jackson, Ala., and forward Alex Looney from Mobile's Murphy High School were all freshmen who saw significant playing time last year and should continue to be important cogs in the Badger machine this year.

Senior guard Stephen Burches of Hammond, La., averaged 9.0 points per game before sitting out the spring semester. His return should give a needed boost to the offense along with the addition of sophomore guard Todd Martin who transferred from the University of South Alabama.

At center, Thompson has been happy to see freshman Jake Thelan of Edgewood, Ky., emerge as the probable starter to replace graduated four-year starter Nick Brown.

The post position is young, but very deep as Taylor and freshman Frederick Gatson of Riverdale, Ga., are quickly growing into the role.

With a 17-man roster, depth should not be a problem this season. Transfer guards Kyle Watkins of Montgomery, Ala., and junior Brett Williams of Oviedo, Fla., bring added strength to the Badger bench while freshmen Halen Butler of Spring, Texas, Neal Apetrei from Madisonville, La., Ben Redman of Spanish Fort, Ala., John Deloach of Niceville, Fla., and Jayln Woods of Brookshire, Texas, look to gain experience during their first collegiate seasons.

Head coach Robert Thompson is in his ninth season at the helm of the Spring Hill men's basketball program. He has compiled a 126-119 (.514) record during his tenure as head coach. In 13 years, Thompson holds a 169-181 (.483) overall record.

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