Nov. 12, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball team opens the 2009-10 campaign Saturday night on the road against Louisiana-Lafayette at 7:15 p.m. (CT) at the CajunDome.
The game will air on WXRR 104.5 FM. There will be no pregame show due to the Southern Miss-Marshall football game.
This will be the first time that Southern Miss opens the season away from home since 2005-06.
Southern Miss and Louisiana-Lafayette will meet for the 68th time, with the Golden Eagles holding a 38-29 advantage. In Lafayette, ULL holds a 20-16 lead. The teams have not met since 2001, when Southern Miss defeated the Ragin' Cajuns, 76-61, in Hattiesburg. It will also be the first meeting in Lafayette since 1999. The Black and Gold have won four of the last five meetings and 13 of the last 15.
The 2009-10 edition of the Southern Miss basketball team looks to rebound from a season that saw them finish 15-17 and drop 11 of its last 13 games.
Heading the list of returnees is junior guard R.L. Horton and senior forward Andre Stephens. Horton is the only returner to have started every game last year and will take over the two-guard this season, while Stephens gives the Golden Eagles some much needed experience in the frontcourt. Redshirt junior guard Sai'Quon Stone also returns to the team this season. Stone missed the final 23 games last year after breaking his foot.
There will be plenty of new faces donning the Black and Gold this year. Transfer guards Buchi Awaji (Kansas State) and Angelo Johnson (USC) expect to make big contributions to the team. Guards Maurice Bolden (Jackson, Miss.), who originally committed to Southern Miss in 2006, and LaVanne Pennington (San Bernardino, Calif.), will make their debut after sitting out last year. Forwards Josimar Ayarza (Panama City, Panama), Gary Flowers (Dallas, Texas) and Torye Pelham (Nashville, Tenn.) give the Eagles depth in the frontcourt after spending the last two years in junior college. Transfer Daryl Arnold (Southeastern Louisiana) and freshman Kenneth Ortiz (Newark, N.J.) also look to contribute.
Head coach Larry Eustachy enters his sixth season at the helm of the Southern Miss men's basketball program. He has compiled a 75-80 (.484) record during his time as head coach. In 18 years, Eustachy has an overall record of (.598).
Louisiana-Lafayette enters the 2009-10 season coming off a year that saw them go 10-20.
The Ragin Cajuns return seven lettermen and all five starters from last year's team. Leading the squad is Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference honoree Chris Gradnigo. The sophomore was one of three players to average double-figure points, scoring a team-high 13.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. Junior Travis Bureau averaged 12.4 points per game last year and 4.3 rebounds, while Randell Daigle scored 11.3 points.
As a team, UL-Lafayette scored 66.6 points per game, while giving up 70.5. The Cajuns shot 41.6-percent from the field while allowing the opposition to shoot 45.3-percent.
Head coach Robert Lee is in his fifth season at the helm of the Louisiana-Lafayette men's basketball program. He has compiled a 50-75 (.400) record during his tenure as head coach.
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