HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss opens its 2003-04 season Friday night, Nov. 21, with an 8 p.m., game against visiting Alcorn State. The game is the second game of a men's-women's doubleheader that has the Lady Eagles playing their season-opener at 5:30 p.m.
The Golden Eagles open the season for the Braves for the second-straight season and for the third time in the James Green years. The two teams have played seven times previous to the Friday game, with Southern Miss holding a 6-1 edge. The Eagles won last year's game 78-70. The visitors led in that game, 39-35, at the half, only to see Southern Miss come back to outscore the Braves 43-31 in the second half.
Charles Gaines opened his Southern Miss career with a 33-point, 11-rebound game and got double-figure scoring help from Greg Johnson (13), Dante Stiggers (11) and Mario Myles (10). The Braves also put four players in double figures, led by Lee Cook's 21 points.
Both teams come into the game off successful exhibition game results. Southern Miss opened with a 79-60 exhibition loss against a good Global Sports team, but rebounded to beat West Alabama 75-58. Alcorn fared even better. The Braves beat Tougaloo College 85-78 and the touring VASDA Gold team 98-81 in a pair of exhibition games.
Alcorn returns four starters and nine lettermen from last year's team that posted a 14-19 record, but was 10-8 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference race.
The Braves will have new faces on the bench, including that of the head coach. Legendary coach Davey Whitney retired at the end of last season and was replaced by one of his assistant coaches, Samuel West.
Southern Miss returns four starters and seven lettermen from last year's team that finished 13-16, and went two games deep into the C-USA Tournament, beating perennial national powerhouse Cincinnati (63-61) in the opening round. The Eagles should start Stiggers and sophomore Jason Forte at the guards, senior Greg Johnson and sophomore Jasper Johnson at the forwards and Gaines at center.
Following the season opener, Southern Miss will entertain Texas Southern Nov. 25, as part of another doubleheader that will have the men playing at 8 p.m., and then depart Thanksgiving Day for a Nov. 29, game at Murray State. That game will start a four-game road trip that also will include a two-game stop at the Brothers Air/Heat Shootout at Hampton (Dec. 5-6), and a single-game trip to Arkansas State (Dec. 13).
Tickets for the season opener as well as season, mini-pack and single game tickets remain on sale through the Ferlise Center Ticket Office, or by calling 601-266-5418 or 1-800-844-TICK.