GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have a chance to create a tie for first place in the Conference USA standings when the Memphis Tigers visit Reed Green Coliseum on Saturday.
The Tigers hold a 64-24 advantage and have won 18 of the last 19 meetings. In Hattiesburg, Memphis holds a 21-14 lead.
The Tigers notched their 13th win in a row on Wednesday by downing SMU, 60-52, on the road. The win gave Memphis sole possession of first place in the C-USA race as it has still yet to be defeated in eight league bouts. The Tigers also own a perfect 5-0 mark in true road tests entering the weekend. Josh Pastner's squad has incredible depth, talent, and athleticism. The team knows how to close out games as well as anyone. Memphis has a 6-2 record in single-digit games and a 3-0 mark in games decided by five or fewer points. Junior guard Joe Jackson leads the team with 13.8 points and 4.5 assists per game.
Geron Johnson tallied a game-high 19 points to propel Memphis past SMU in its last appearance. Johnson also added seven rebounds for the Tigers while Adonis Thomas posted 14 points and nine boards. Memphis made 7-of-20 from long range and held SMU to a mere 1-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc on the night. Memphis also outscored SMU in free throws, 25-13. The balanced Tigers' attack has given the third-best scoring offense in the C-USA (73.6 ppg) along with the fifth best scoring defense average (63.0).
The Golden Eagles enter their matchup with the Tigers on the heels of a 60-58 setback to UCF, their first loss in C-USA play this season. USM would tie Memphis and take early control of the head-to-head tie-breaker with a victory at home, where it is undefeated through eight games. The tandem of Dwayne Davis (12.9 ppg) and Jerrold Brooks (10.7 ppg) is pacing the Golden Eagles offense, which Jonathan Mills is Southern Miss' top rebounder at 6.7 boards per game.
USM could very well have survived its trip to Orlando had Neil Watson's last second 3-point attempt fallen, but it unfortunately did not as the Knights overcame a 53-48 deficit with 5:45 left to play. Mills led Southern Miss with 15 points and nine rebounds, Davis had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists and Jerrold Brooks added 10 points and three steals. USM was held to just 36.2-percent (21-of-58) from the field and 27.3-percent (6-of-22) from beyond the arc while UCF made 18-of-45 (40.0 percent) from the floor and 8- of-17 (47.1 percent) from distance. Despite the loss, the Golden Eagles won the rebounding battle, 40-35.
Both these teams will be prepared for a brawl as they battle for supremacy in the conference standings. Nobody in the conference has been able to find the Tigers' Achilles' heel to this point, but USM has as good a shot as anyone to figure it out.
Game Date and Time