HATTIESBURG, Miss. ? Southern Miss opened with a 48-29 halftime lead and cruised to a 77-63 victory over Texas Southern, at Green Coliseum here Tuesday night.
Sophomore forward Jasper Johnson had 17 of those first half points, and finished with a game-high 23 points. Charles Gaines added 17 points and 14 rebounds to record his first double-double of the season. Greg Johnson rounded out the Eagles? double-digit scorers with 10 points, and Jason Forte and Clement Carter added nine points each.
?I thought we played a great first half,? Southern Miss Head Coach James Green said. ?We shot well, defended well and rebounded well. In the second half, (Texas Southern) beat us with the penetration, and we got a little careless with the ball. But I am pleased to be 2-0.?
The Golden Eagles (2-0) shot an even 50 percent from the floor in the first half, and finished the game with a solid 48 percent effort from the floor, though managing only 7-of-24 from behind the arc. Jasper Johnson contributed to that solid shooting by making 7-of-10 first half shots, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. He finished the game with 10-of-15 from the floor. The Tigers shot 45 percent, on 21-of-47 shooting.
Sean Walker led Texas Southern (0-2) with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and teammates Larry Evans and Damien Smith added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Southern Miss also easily won the rebounding battle, 43-28, with Gaines? 14 leading the way for both teams. Jasper Johnson added eight, and Sean Walker led the visitors with five.
The Tigers attempted 17 more free throws than Southern Miss, but the team made just 18-of-32 in the game. South Miss hit just 8-of-15.
The Eagles, ending a two-game, season-opening home stand, led 48-28 at the half, only to see the visitors outscore Southern Miss 34-29 in the second half. Texas Southern fought back to within 12 points, but that was with less than a minute remaining in the game.
Dante Stiggers added another five assists to the 10 he handed out in the opening game of the season. Jasper Johnson had 17 points, including three 3-pointers, to help stake Southern Miss to the commanding opening-half lead.
Following tonight?s game, Southern Miss will play Saturday afternoon at MurrayState, a , game that will be the first road game of the season as well as the first game of a five-game stretch that will have the Eagles playing four of the five on the road. That includes a two-game stop in the Brothers Air/Heat Shootout in a Rock Hill, S.C., tournament hosted by Hampton. Those games will be played Dec. 5-6, and Southern Miss also will play at ArkansasState and LSU, in addition to a lone Dec. 17, home game against Georgia Southern.