Southern Miss (3-0) at South Alabama (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mitchell Center (10,000) -- Mobile, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: USM 1-0, USA 2-0. Away Record: USM 2-0, USA 0-1. Neutral Record: USM 0-0, USA 0-0. Conference Record: USM 0-0, USA 0-0. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 22-15.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles will put their perfect record on the line as they clash with the South Alabama Jaguars in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Mitchell Center.
Coach Donnie Tyndall's Golden Eagles have not had an easy journey to their 3-0 record. Southern Miss began its season with a 67-51 win over Jackson State before hitting the road to down DePaul, 75-68, and North Dakota State, 70-69 on Monday. The Golden Eagles have been wildly successful in recent history as they are coming off the fourth consecutive 20-win campaign. They are one of the favorites to win the Conference USA title this season since the throne was left vacant when the Memphis Tigers departed for the American Athletic Association.
The Jaguars have just one blemish on their record through three games. They began their season with a rout of Detroit and then dropped an 84-77 decision at Texas four days later. USA bounced back on Monday with another lopsided victory when it defeated NAIA foe William Carey, 76-53, at home. Coach Matthew Graves in his first season as a head coach after spending many years as an assister for Butler during its unbelievable run as one of the elite mid-major programs in the nation.
This will be the 38th meeting between Southern Miss and South Alabama in history. The Golden Eagles hold a 22-15 lead in the all-time series. These schools have not squared off since Dec. 7, 2011.
Despite being considered slightly undersized, USM outscored its opponent in the paint in all of its games to start the season. It held a 42-20 edge in points in the paint and also tallied 22 points off of turnovers versus North Dakota State to overcome a nine-point deficit and keep the Bison at bay. The Golden Eagles have gone 26-of-50 from the floor in each of their past two games and registered a season-high 11 steals at NDSU as well. Temple transfer Aaron Brown had his best outing for the Black and Gold on Monday as he posted 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor to pace the team. Jerrold Brooks added 11 points and five assists while Jeremiah Eason came off the bench to pump in 15 points. USM is very deep, athletic and gives a maximum effort to overcome its lack of height.
The Golden Eagles will have some trouble slowing down USA's star forward Augustine Rubit, who enters the contest averaging a double-double with 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game to lead the squad. Rubit's performance is actually somewhat disappointing as he averaged 19.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg last season before being honored as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and also as an AP honorable mention All-American. However, the Jaguars are playing very good team basketball as Mychal Ammons, Antoine Allen and Barrington Stevens are all scoring in double-figures as well. Ammons has the ability to scorch the opposition from beyond the arc as does Allen, which makes doubling down on Augustine a risky move.
USM's defensive pressure on the perimeter will make it very difficult for the Jaguars' perimeter players to get the ball inside to Augustine. The Golden Eagles should be able to disrupt much of what USA likes to do on offense with their hard-nosed defense, but they will need to continue to operate efficiently when they have the ball to remain perfect.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 70, South Alabama 67
11/22 10:34:47 ET