BYU (23-11) at Southern Miss (27-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 27, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Green Coliseum (8,095) -- Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Television: ESPNU. NIT Record: BYU 14-8, Southern Miss 8-7. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: With an opportunity to play in semifinals of the 2013 National Invitational Tournament on the line the BYU Cougars will battle the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Reed Green Coliseum on Wednesday.
The NIT's semifinals will be held at Madison Square Garden on April 2 with the winner of this contest advancing to take on either Providence or Baylor. The other semifinal will be between the victors among Alabama/Maryland and Virginia/Iowa.
The high-octane Cougars haven't deviated from the successful plan the team has employed all season long. BYU has scored 90 points in each of the first two rounds, including a 90-71 rout of Mercer in Monday's second round. The Cougars didn't look so strong entering the event as they had lost five of eight contests. BYU is in the midst of its 11th appearance in the NIT, winning titles during the 1951 and 1966 seasons.
If it weren't for Memphis, Southern Miss could have very well been Conference USA's entrant in the NCAA Tournament. However a 91-79 setback against the Tigers in the conference finals, its third of the season against them, ended those hopes. The Golden Eagles have recovered nicely with tournament wins over Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech to reach the NIT quarterfinals. At 27-9 the Golden Eagles have amassed the most wins in a season ever, while having totaled at least 22 in three straight years.
Brandon Davies dominated up front with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyler Haws poured in 24 points in the win over Mercer. Matt Carlino got into the act as well, draining 5-of-10 from behind the arc and just missing a double- double with 18 points and nine assists.
The Cougars' effort against the Bears has been their blueprint all season with the team relying heavily on Haws, Davies and Carlino. Haws (21.5 ppg) was the leading scorer in the West Coast Conference this season and can score from anywhere on the floor. Davies (18.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) pounds away on the inside with nine double-doubles on the campaign. Carlino (11.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) often takes a backseat in the scoring department, but makes sure to keep the rest of the team involved.
After jumping out to a 35-27 lead at halftime against Louisiana Tech, a team that was nationally ranked at one point, the Golden Eagles struggled a bit in the second half when they shot 36.7 percent overall. However Southern Miss limited the Bulldogs to just 33.3 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes to hold on for the win. Despite the win, the 1-of-15 effort Southern Miss had from 3-point range is a cause for concern.
Dwayne Davis (16.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) had a solid all around game in the victory with 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The 6-foot-5 forward contributes in just about every facet of the game and has some explosive scoring ability with 10 games of at least 20 points this season. Unlike the Cougars, the Golden Eagles rely more on a balanced attack, with five other players scoring at least eight points per game. Jerrold Brooks (10.8 ppg) is the only other double-figure scorer, while lead distributor Neil Watson (9.8 ppg, 4.9 apg) and top rebounder Jonathan Mills (9.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg) are also reliable options.
The Golden Eagles have really defended Reed Green Coliseum well this year with just a single blemish in 15 tries at home. BYU (6-5) isn't a stellar road team, but if Haws, Davies and Carlino keep up their high level of play the Cougars won't be run off the floor. Expect a tight contest with the Golden Eagles finding a way to pull out a win in the end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 73, BYU 71
03/27 10:30:42 ET