Southern Miss (27-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (26-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,222) -- El Paso, Texas.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: USM 14-0, LA Tech 13-1. Away Record: USM 9-5,
LA Tech 9-4. Neutral Record: USM 4-0, LA Tech 4-1. Conference Record: USM
13-3, LA Tech 13-3. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 43-29.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles will try to punch their ticket to
another Conference USA Tournament championship game as they take on the top-
seeded Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the semifinal round at the Don Haskins
Center on Friday.
Although Southern Miss is the No. 4 seed in the C-USA Tournament, it finished
the regular season tied with the Bulldogs, Tulsa and Middle Tennessee for
first in the conference standings. The winner of this contest will face either
Tulsa or Middle Tennessee in the title game on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles dispatched the tournament hosting Texas-El Paso Miners,
64-56, on Thursday in the quarterfinals behind a strong second half
performance. Southern Miss finished with a 45-28 edge in total rebounds and
limited UTEP to a 3-of-22 clip from 3-point range in the contest. On the
season, coach Donnie Tyndale's squad has been impressive on both ends of the
court by shooting 46.3 percent from the field for 72.4 ppg, while allowing a
C-USA low 62.2 ppg on 42.3 percent shooting.
LA Tech has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1991 when it was a member of
the American South. The Bulldogs are already a step ahead of last season when
they were upset as the top seed in the 2013 Western Athletic Conference in
their first postseason game by a ninth-seeded UTSA squad. They dominated
Charlotte in the quarterfinals on Thursday, coasting to an 85-66 decision. LA
Tech converted the 49ers' 16 turnovers into 17 points and outscored its
opponent, 36-18, in the paint. Coach Michael White's squad excelled in its
inaugural season as a member of the C-USA as it upped its scoring offense
(81.5 ppg) by nine points and its scoring margin (16.4 ppg) by 7.4 points.
This will be the 73nd time in history that LA Tech and USM square off on the
hardwood, making it the longest rivalry outside the state of Louisiana for the
Bulldogs. The Golden Eagles own a 43-29 all-time series lead after defeating
the Bulldogs in last season's NIT and in this year's regular-season matchup in
The Golden Eagles were concerned about how senior forward and All C-USA Third
Team member Michael Craig would perform in the C-USA Tournament since he had
not played any significant minutes since returning to action on March 6. Craig
wasted no time showing he will be a contributor in El Paso as he registered a
double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds versus the Miners in the team's
postseason debut. Senior point guard Neil Watson's performance must improve
going forward since he is USM's primary playmaker and top perimeter defender.
Watson, who was named First Team All-C-USA, was limited to 1-of-7 efficiency
from the floor, two points and just one assist against three turnovers by
UTEP. Luckily, junior guard Aaron Brown stepped up to tally 18 points and
seven rebounds, while senior forward Daveon Boardingham added nine points and
In LA Tech's rout of Charlotte on Thursday, Michale Kyser scored a career-high
20 points and pulled down nine boards, while Alex Hamilton accounted for 19
points. Junior floor general Kenneth Smith dished out eight assists on the
night, marking the 14th time in the past 15 games he has had at least eight in
a game. The strong showing also brought the First-Team All-C-USA selection's
season total to 245, surpassing UAB's Aaron Johnson (2010-11) for the C-USA
single-season assists record. Hamilton (14.6 ppg) has become the Bulldogs' go-
to-guy on the offensive end, but Chris Anderson (12 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Raheem
Appleby (13.5 ppg) are both capable scorers as well.
LA Tech will not only be looking to take its next step towards the NCAA
Tournament, but it will also be seeking revenge as it faces the school that
ended its season in 2012-13. All five of USM's losses have been away from
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 73, Southern Miss 68
03/14 10:29:56 ET
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