Dec. 14, 2006
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -
Southern Miss leaves the friendly confines of Reed Green Coliseum for the first time Saturday when they take on No. 9 Alabama in a 7:15 p.m. contest at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Ala. The game is part of the Coors Classic doubleheader and also features host South Alabama facing Ole Miss at 5 p.m.
The Golden Eagles are off to their best start since 1985-86 with a 7-0 record. It is just the fourth time in the school's 88-year basketball history that they have won seven-straight games to start the season.
Over the last two games, the Golden Eagles have started four freshmen in each contest. In the modern era of Southern Miss basketball (post-World War II), four freshmen have never started in the same game until this season.
The Golden Eagle youth - eight total freshmen of the 11 new players, rank nationally in the Top 10 in five NCAA categories as a team, including winning percentage, as being one of eight teams still undefeated this season. The others are Clemson, Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, UCLA and Wichita State.
Southern Miss ranks tops in the country in rebounding margin at plus-15.4 boards a game, while holding fourth in field goal percentage defense (34.8), fifth in scoring margin (plus-25.3) and 10th in scoring defense (54.4).
Freshman Jeremy Wise, who ranks No. 38 in the nation in free-throw percentage (88.9, 24-of-27), paces the Golden Eagles in scoring with a 16.9 points per game average, as he is the only member of the team to start in all seven games this season.
Courtney Beasley, a returning sophomore, is next at 11.3 points per contest, while also tied for the team lead in rebounding with Demar Dotson and Gjio Bain at 6.4 per tilt. Dotson, a junior, holds the third-highest average in scoring at 9.9, while freshman Sai'Quon Stone is fourth at 8.6 per game.
The Golden Eagles face an Alabama team, who has collected an 8-1 record this season. Alonzo Gee is one of five Crimson Tide players in double-figure scoring with a team-leading 16.0 points per contest. Jermareo Davidson is next at 14.9 points per game, followed by Richard Hendrix at 14.8, Ronald Steele at 12.7 and Mykal Riley at 11.9.
This will be the 24th meeting between the two schools, with Alabama holding an 18-5 advantage. The Crimson Tide, which has won the last two and four of the last five games over the Golden Eagles, captured an 83-69 decision on Feb. 6, 1996, at Green Coliseum in the last meeting between the two schools.