Men's Basketball Begins Pivotal Final Home Weekend on Thursday Night
Golden Eagles have big opportunity regarding their postseason aspirations
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- There are only two games left in the Southern Miss men's basketball home campaign, and they also mark the most important of the season to date regarding the team's postseason aspirations. Thursday's game against FIU begins at 7 p.m., followed by Senior Day at 4 p.m.
Thursday's game features a Buy One, Get One Free ticket promotion. Those looking to take advantage of the offer can visit SouthernMissTickets.com, call 1-800-844-TICK, or stop by the Pat Ferlise Center or Reed Green Coliseum box office pregame.
Fans can watch the game via Southern Miss All Access or tune in to the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network with John Cox, the Voice of the Golden Eagles (Rock 104.5 in Hattiesburg).
-- Thursday's game marks the beginning of a critical weekend for Southern Miss in its Conference USA Championships aspirations. The Golden Eagles sit two games ahead of FIU in the win column for the final spot in the tournament, and Saturday's game is also significant with it being against Florida Atlantic, which is also tied with Southern Miss for the last slot.
-- The Golden Eagles suffered a hard-fought loss at UTSA on Thursday before going west to El Paso and falling to red-hot UTEP. Thursday will hopefully be a continuation of good fortune for the Golden Eagles, who are 3-0 in Thursday home Conference USA games. The seniors also look to close their Reed Green Coliseum journeys on the highest note possible, especially with their aforementioned C-USA Tournament hopes on the line.
-- Southern Miss was victorious in the last meeting with FIU, a 66-60 decision on Jan. 16, 2016 in Miami. Kourtlin Jackson poured in 23 points to lead his team past a four-point halftime deficit that grew to an 11-point lead with four minutes left. Then-freshman Robert Thomas III stepped up with nine points (all in the second half) off the bench. Cortez Edwards even made a pair of three-pointers that night (he made five all season). Defensively, the Panthers were held to 3-of-17 long-range shooting and 6-of-22 on overall field goals in the second half.
-- Quinton Campbell is averaging 23.3 ppg in C-USA home Thursday games, and the Golden Eagles are averaging a mean 81 ppg with a 49.7 field goal percentage. Saturday afternoon's contest versus WKU saw a unique streak come to an end - seven consecutive home games of Southern Miss making 50 percent or more of its shots in at least one half (started Dec. 10 against Tulane).
-- Edwards neared a double-double on Thursday with 11 rebounds and eight assists, the former being the third double-digit game (all since Jan. 5) for the 6-foot-2 sophomore and the latter marking the most by a Golden Eagle since Holland also had eight against Tulane on Dec. 10. In fact, Edwards' 19 combined rebounds and assists were the highest total by a Golden Eagle since the 2012-13 season, when Neil Watson (17 assists, four rebounds vs. Dillard on Jan. 3) and Jonathan Mills (17 rebounds, two assists on March 2 vs. ECU) accomplished the feat.
-- Southern Miss has produced four consecutive games of more assists than turnovers, its best streak since Feb. 18-27, 2016. The 15 made three-pointers over the past weekend in Texas were also the team's most since equaling that against UTEP (Jan. 7) and ODU (Jan. 12).
-- FIU is leading the league in free-throw percentage (77.2 percent) and steals (7.2 pg) in C-USA play. Its two wins this conference season came against North Texas last weekend and UAB earlier in the year. Southern Miss defensively will have three prominent scorers to contain, led by Donte McGill's 18.9 ppg in C-USA games. Elmo Stephens and Michael Kessens each have 13 ppg as well. McGill is even a 93 percent free-throw shooter, and Eric Nottage is another elite performer that recorded an FIU Arena-record 37 points in the UAB win.