|Men's College Basketball|
Southern Miss (17-3) at East Carolina (11-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 25, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum (8,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: WITN. Home Record: USM 8-0, ECU 6-4. Away Record: USM 6-3, ECU 2-4. Neutral Record: USM 3-0, ECU 3-0. Conference Record: USM 4-1, ECU 0-4. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 15-7.
GAME NOTES: The red-hot Southern Miss Golden Eagles continue their current road trip, as they battle the struggling East Carolina Pirates in a Conference USA showdown at Williams Arena on Saturday evening.
Donnie Tyndall's Golden Eagles took on Old Dominion on Thursday and pulled away down the stretch to post an impressive 75-60 victory in Norfolk. The win was the third straight for USM and the eighth in the last nine games, moving the team to 17-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play, tied with both Louisiana Tech and Tulsa atop the league standings.
Jeff Lebo's Pirates are trending in the opposite direction. East Carolina was also in action on Thursday, suffering a 59-54 loss at home to Tulane. The setback was the fourth straight for ECU, leaving the team 11-8 overall and a dismal 0-4 in the C-USA, ahead of only 0-5 Rice.
Southern Miss holds a 15-7 advantage in the all-time series with East Carolina thanks to USM's current 10-game win streak.
The Golden Eagles used a 24-8 run to end the game, earning the 15-point win over Old Dominion last time out. Neil Watson led the charge for USM, hitting six 3-pointers and going a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line to finish with a career-high 28 points. Jerrold Brooks poured in 18 points and Michael Craig tacked on 11 for the Golden Eagles, who also forced 17 ODU turnovers, turning those miscues into 32 points.
Southern Miss ranks in the middle of the pack in the C-USA in terms of scoring at a modest 74.1 ppg (seventh in the league). The Golden Eagles are extremely efficient however, making every trip up and down the floor count, as they lead the conference in field-goal percentage (.466). Watson is actually shooting better from behind the arc (.430) than the floor overall (.416) and leads the team in scoring at 12.4 ppg. Craig and Daveon Boardingham are also in double digits at 11.3 and 10.9 ppg, respectively. Brooks (9.6 ppg) and Aaron Brown (9.5 ppg) add further depth.
East Carolina has had no problems putting points on the scoreboard this season for the most part, ranking second in the league at a solid 80.1 ppg. Conference play has proved much more challenging, with ECU netting a rather paltry 63.8 ppg. Akeem Richmond leads the way offensively, ranking second in the conference at 18.8 ppg. Paris Roberts-Campbell (13.4 ppg) and Caleb White (12.1 ppg) round out the top threats on the roster.
The Pirates held a slim lead with less than three minutes to play, but Tulane got hot from behind the arc down the stretch to earn the road win in Greenville and continue ECU's downward spiral. East Carolina didn't do itself any favors by shooting just 36 percent from the floor (18-of-50), including a 4-of-20 effort from 3-point range. Richmond and White tied for team-high honors with 14 points apiece. Roberts-Campbell added 10 points in the losing effort.
These are two teams heading in different directions. Both trends are likely to continue, as Southern Miss should be able to take advantage of an East Carolina team that has forgot how to shoot the basketball.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 71, East Carolina 65
01/25 10:26:34 ET