Coppin State (4-5) vs. Southern Miss (9-2)

The Sports NetworkDecember 20, 2013 

GAME NOTES: The Coppin State Eagles and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles square off in the British Virgin Islands on Friday night, as the opening round of the BVI Tropical Shootout begins at the Multi-Purpose Sports Complex.

The winner will advance to the championship game on Saturday to play either Jacksonville State or Arkansas-Little Rock. The losers will also square off in the consolation bout.

Coppin State has had an up-and-down season en route to its 4-5 record, although it's gotten off to a 1-0 start in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 73-54 road victory over Delaware State on Dec. 7. The Eagles recently traveled to Richmond last Saturday and were easily handled in a 71-49 setback.

Southern Miss has gotten off to a strong start with a record of 9-2, however it recently snapped a three-game win streak with a 68-65 loss at Western Kentucky on Wednesday night.

These two teams have never before met on the hardwood.

The Eagles never had a chance in their latest bout, as they shot a lowly 28.6 percent from the field, including 3-of-16 from 3-point range, and allowed Richmond to connect on 50 percent of its tries from floor as they suffered the 22-point setback. Michael Murray was the only player to finish in double figures with 13 points, although he did so on just 4-of-12 from the field. Arnold Fripp scored only two points but made his mark on the glass with 10 rebounds. On the season, Coppin State has not fared very well on either end of the court. In addition to shooting just 40.1 percent from the field for 70.4 points per game, it allows opponents to shoot 46.3 percent for 78.4 points per tilt. Murray (14.8 ppg) missed four games due to injury and his return has made a big impact on the starting lineup. Sterling Smith (14.1 ppg) has been impressive from beyond the arc (22-of-49), while Taariq Cephas (12.2 ppg) hands out 4.6 apg.

The Golden Eagles appeared down for the count late in the second half of their latest game, as they trailed WKU by nine points with under five minutes to play, but even though they charged back to make it just a one-point game with 12 seconds left, they could not complete the comeback. They shot a modest 44.7 percent from the field in the loss and were paced by a 15-point effort from Jerrold Brooks, who shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Neil Watson added 13 points, while Michael Craig pitched in 12 points off the bench. Scoring has been a bit of a problem for USM this season, as it nets just 69.6 points per game despite shooting a solid 45 percent from the field. Luckily, it's able to make of for its offensive shortcomings by allowing less than 64 points per game on the other end of the floor. Watson leads the way with 11.8 points per game and also gets his teammates involved with 3.5 assists per game. Aaron Brown (10.3 ppg) and Craig (10.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers.

USM struggled in a difficult environment earlier in the week, but it will surely be rejuvenated for its trip to the British Virgin Islands and shouldn't have much issue dismissing an inferior Coppin State squad.

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