FIU (13-15) at Southern Miss (23-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 27, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Green Coliseum (8,095) -- Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 8-6, USM 13-0. Away Record: FIU 4-7, USM 7-5. Neutral Record: FIU 1-2, USM 3-0. Conference Record: FIU 5-8, USM 10-3. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The FIU Golden Panthers will make a visit to Reed Green Coliseum for a Conference USA tilt against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
FIU will be looking to snap a three-game losing skid after its 77-65 setback to Tulsa on Saturday. Anthony Evans's squad has fallen to a 13-15 overall record, including a 5-8 C-USA standing due to the slump. The Panthers are netting 68.4 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting from the floor, while allowing 70.5 ppg on 43.1 percent efficiency. FIU has won only four of its 11 true road tests this season.
The Golden Eagles will be playing their final home game of the 2013-14 season on Thursday. They began the current three-game homestand with much needed victories over Texas-San Antonio (85-56) and Texas-El Paso (77-68). Donnie Tyndall's squad is tied for second in the C-USA race with Louisiana Tech, UTEP and Tulsa, just one game behind the first place Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. USM is a perfect 13-0 at home this year. One more triumph would give the program its second spotless record at Reed Green Coliseum in the last three years.
This will be the first meeting in history between FIU and USM. The Panthers are in their inaugural tour of the C-USA.
Senior forward Tymell Murphy paced FIU with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting in the loss to the Golden Hurricane. Junior guard Dennis Mavin added 18 points with 11 of his points coming at the charity stripe and senior forward Rakeem Buckles tallied 10 points and six rebounds. FIU was outrebounded, 46-27, and finished just 5-of-15 from 3-point range in the loss. Murphy is leading the Panthers on the campaign and ranks fourth in the C-USA with 16.8 ppg to go along with 7.3 rpg. Buckles has also been outstanding with 13.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg and 1.1 spg. Mavin is the team's top threat from the backcourt with 11.8 ppg, although he shoots only 38.3 percent from the field.
In USM's win over UTEP, junior forward and former Temple transfer Aaron Brown tallied 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds to spearhead the charge. Brown connected on 5-of-9 shots behind the 3-point line on the evening for the Golden Eagles, while Matt Bingaya pitched in with 21 points and seven rebounds. UTEP led by as many as 11 in the first half and held 38-31 edge at the break, however the Golden Eagles rallied back by shooting 53.6 percent from the floor, including a 6-of-10 clip from behind the 3-point line in the second stanza. Senior point guard Neil Watson leads USM's balanced attack with 11.5 ppg and 4.1 apg. Michael Craig (11.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Daveon Boardingham (10 ppg, 4.5 rpg) are also consistent contributors on the offensive end.
Although USM has been up-and-down in recent weeks, the Golden Eagles are reliable on their own court. FIU does not seem to be finishing strong, which makes an upset of the Golden Eagles seems highly unlikely. The Panthers have a slight size advantage, however that will not be enough to make up the differences in experience, depth and talent.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 77, FIU 64
02/27 10:16:34 ET