GAME NOTES: The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles look to build upon a five- game win streak as they travel to Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricane in a Conference USA battle at Reynolds Center.
Southern Miss has only lost two games all season long - to then-No. 9 Louisville and a three-point thriller against Western Kentucky. The Golden Eagles have won five in a row since their last loss, including the most recent contest, a 74-64 downing of North Texas.
Tulsa has struggled a bit this season, only winning one of its first seven games. But the Golden Hurricane are 3-2 in their last five matches and look to extend a two-game winning streak by upsetting Southern Miss. They beat Tulane, 97-71, in their last contest.
Tulsa holds a slim 6-5 edge in the all-time series between the two programs. However, the Golden Eagles have won two in a row in the series, including last year's matchup in Tulsa.
Thanks to its win over North Texas Thursday night, Southern Miss has now won four straight Conference USA openers. An 11-0 run in the second half created some distance between the Golden Eagles and Mean Green that allowed Southern Miss to coast to a 10-point victory. Michael Craig led the way for Southern Miss with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line. He added seven rebounds to his impressive stat total. Daveon Boardingham added 11 points, while Deonte Houston contributed 10. The Golden Eagles shot 28-of-33 from the free-throw line.
Craig is second on the team in scoring this season with a 10.7 ppg average, only bested by Neil Watson at 11.4 ppg. Craig tops Watson in several other stat categories though, including shooting percentage (55.6 percent from the floor) and rebounds (7.5 rpg). Boardingham rounds out the double-digit scorers on the Golden Eagles at 10.6 ppg.
Tulsa played one of its most complete games of the season Thursday night against Tulane in the Conference USA opener, routing the visiting Green Wave. All five starters scored at least 11 points in the resounding victory. Shaquille Harrison netted a game-high 23 points on a near-perfect 8-of-9 shooting performance. He dished out six assists and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. D'Andre Wright scored 18 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the win.
James Woodard paces the Golden Hurricane this season with a 14.2 ppg average, and a team-best 5.9 rpg. The lopsided victory showed the potential damage this Tulsa team can do any given night, but the reality is that Tulsa only has three players averaging double-digit point totals this season and defensively gives up 74.3 ppg to its opponents. Rashad Smith scores 12.4 ppg, while Harrison is third on the squad at 10.4 ppg.
The one-game sample size would give the illusion that Tulsa has the upper hand in this matchup. However, this season, inconsistency has been the theme for the Golden Hurricane, while Southern Miss is prided on being consistent in overmatching its opponents.
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