East Tennessee State (4-5) vs. Southern Miss (7-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 22nd, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Poliforum Benito Juarez (5,800) -- Cancun, Mexico. Television: none. Home Record: East Tennessee State 2-0, Southern Miss 4-0. Away Record: East Tennessee State 2-5, Southern Miss 3-1. Neutral Record: East Tennessee State 0-0, Southern Miss 0-0. Conference Record: East Tennessee State 0-1, Southern Miss 0-0. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: The East Tennessee State Buccaneers and the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles square off this afternoon in a non-conference showdown as part of the inaugural 2010 Cancun Governor's Cup in Poliforum Benito Juarez.
The Bucs are in the midst of a month-long, eight game road trip. Most recently, they dropped a 71-50 decision to Ole Miss on Dec. 18th. The Bucs have also seen their conference mark suffer during the prolonged trip, losing to USC Upstate by a single point on Dec. 5th.
The Golden Eagles are road weary as well, as they find themselves in the midst of a six-game jaunt. They have won two straight on the trip, defeating Cal St. Monteray Bay and California on successive nights. Southern Miss' 3-1 away record should serve them well as they enter neutral territory.
Southern Miss leads ETSU 7-4 in 11 all-time meetings, which includes a 4-1 clip over the last five games. This will be the teams' first meeting since 1992.
ETSU didn't even give itself a shot against Ole Miss, spotting the Rebels 13 points to begin the game. The Buccaneer defense was lackluster at best, allowing 71 points on 46 percent shooting. The Bucs' offense didn't fair much better, shooting a paltry 31.4 percent from the field, including 25 percent from three-point range. Mike Smith led the ETSU charge with a team-high 18 points, although he went just 4-of-10 from the field and committed four turnovers. Isiah Brown chipped in 10 points on an efficient 6-of-9 from the floor, but he also struggled to control the ball, as he committed five turnovers. Smith currently leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 15.9 ppg, while pulling down a solid 6.4 rpg. Micah Williams and Brown each average around 11 ppg in support. The Bucs sport some solid rebounders, led by Brown (6.8 rpg) and Smith. They post a plus-2.6 rebounding margin on the year. As evident in the loss to Ole Miss, ETSU struggles with ball control, posting a minus-1.8 turnover margin thus far.
Gary Flowers was brilliant in Southern Miss' narrow, 80-78, victory over California. He scored the final 12 points for the Golden Eagles, including a game winning turnaround jumper in traffic with three seconds remaining. The Golden Eagles only shot 40 percent in the win, but outrebounded California 35-24, which led to 14 second chance points. Flowers finished with a game-high 28 points, while Josimar Ayarza chipped 17 and LaShay Page came off the bench to score 12. Flowers has been more than impressive this season, averaging a team-leading 21.7 ppg on 52.8 percent shooting from the field, including 50 percent from three-points range. He also pulls down 6.4 rpg. R.L. Horton, Ayarza and D.J. Newbill all score in double figures as well. The Golden Eagles' impressive individual outputs indicates team success, as they currently average 83.6 ppg, while holding opponents to 36.3 percent shooting, which leads to a plus-20.1 scoring margin.
ETSU has been browbeaten by life on the road, whereas Southern Miss has thrived. The Golden Eagles are a superior team and will earn the win in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 81, East Tennessee State 65
12/22 10:33:41 ET