Southern Miss (1-0) at DePaul (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 13, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Allstate Arena (18,500) -- Rosemont, Illinois. Television: Fox Sports 2. Home Record: USM 1-0, DePaul 1-0. Away Record: USM 0-0, DePaul 0-0. Neutral Record: USM 0-0, DePaul 0-0. Conference Record: USM 0-0, DePaul 0-0. Series Record: DePaul leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles open up the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, as they visit Allstate Arena to tangle with the DePaul Blue Demons.
The Golden Eagles were impressive in their season opener on Friday as they dispatched Jackson State, 67-51, after facing a three-point deficit at halftime. Coach Donnie Tyndall's team is hoping to claim the top spot in the Conference USA that became vacant when the Memphis Tigers departed for the American Athletic Conference over the off-season. Despite earning a 16-point decision over the Tigers, Southern Miss will need to step it up on the offensive end, as it hit on only 38.1 percent of its field goal attempts, including a 5-of-18 clip from beyond the arc.
DePaul was even more electrifying in its 2013-14 debut, as it rolled past Grambling State for a 96-58 victory at McGrath-Phillips Arena. Coach Oliver Purnell's squad hit on 47.2 percent of its field goal attempts due to a strong perimeter shooting performance that yielded 11 makes on 21 attempts from beyond the arc. The Blue Demons ended last season on a seven-game losing streak to finish 11-21. While the win over the Tigers was a good start and Purnell returned 80 percent of last season's starting lineup, DePaul has a long way to go before it will compete in the new look Big East, after producing a 2-16 mark in league games in 2012-13.
These schools met nine times when the Blue Demons were a member of Conference USA. DePaul holds a slight, 5-4 lead in the all-time series after winning three of the last four encounters, the most recent of which took place on Jan. 29, 2005.
Senior forward Daveon Boardingham led the way for the Golden Eagles versus JSU as he tallied 15 points and a career-high nine rebounds. Redshirt junior forward Aaron Brown, who sat out last season after transferring to USM from Temple, had a solid showing in his official program debut with 12 points on 4- of-8 shooting from the field. The team's leading scorer among returners, Jerrold Brooks, came off the bench to tally 11 points with all three of his makes from the field coming from beyond the arc. USM will rely on the play of senior floor general Neil Watson, who finished fourth in the C-USA last season in assists (4.9), steals (1.8) and three-point field goal percentage (.442). Watson posted nine points, a career-high nine boards and four assists to start off his senior campaign.
The Blue Demons have revolved around the dynamic duo of Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young in recent history. Last season as juniors, Young led the team with 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 1.5 steals per outing, while Melvin was just slightly behind in the scoring column at 16.6 ppg in addition to his team-high 6.8 rpg. Purnell made a monumental addition through recruiting as he signed 6- foot-10 freshman center Tommy Hamilton IV, who registered a double-double in the first half of his collegiate debut with 11 points and 10 rebounds before finishing with 16 points and 11 boards. Melvin went 5-of-5 from behind the 3- point line to net a team-high 17 points. With Hamilton in the mix, Young focused on distributing and handed out six assists to go along with seven points in 24 minutes.
Melvin and Young have both proven their talent since arriving in Rosemont, but the two-man show has not yielded the results that Blue Demons' fans have desired. DePaul's rookie big man may be the missing piece to the puzzle, but he will need to carry over the momentum he built in his dominant performance against Grambling. USM may not be as skilled, but it is a very hard-nosed team that rarely backs down, which should keep these teams neck-and-neck deep into the second half.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: DePaul 75, Southern Miss 70
11/13 10:31:46 ET