Southern Miss Golden Eagles (13-16 SU, 12-12 ATS, 15-9 O/U) vs. UTEP Miners (9-18 SU, 9-12 ATS, 10-11 O/U)
NCAAB: Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 9:00 p.m. EST
The Southern Miss Eagles will be hoping to halt a three-game losing streak when they visit the UTEP Miners at the Don Haskins Center on Saturday night. Southern Miss is coming off consecutive setbacks against Middle Tennessee State, UAB, and Texas-San Antonio. The Miners have won two of their last three contests following a victory over Louisiana Tech on Thursday.
These two Conference-USA rivals previously faced each other on Jan. 4, when Southern Miss took care of business to the tune of an 85-75 victory over UTEP. Five Golden Eagles scored in double-figures, led by Dominic Magee (21 points on 9-for-11 shooting), and the team shot 60.3 percent from the floor as a whole. That marked Southern Miss’ best shooting percentage since a Jan. 3, 2015 game against Louisiana Tech. The Golden Eagles shot a ridiculous 74.1 percent (20-of-27) in the second half against the Miners. Tyree Griffin (19 points), Cortez Edwards (14), Kevin Holland (10), and D’Angelo Richardson (10) also reached double-figures for Southern Miss, making it the first occasion on which five players scored in double-figures since a Feb. 2, 2017 contest against Marshall. Moreover, all seven Southern Miss players who logged more than one minute of playing time recorded an assists.
“We’ve shared the ball real well this year and did it again with 19 assists,” head coach Doc Sadler said afterward. “When you do that, we are a much better offensive team. That extra pass gives us a better shot. Defensively, we were at a big disadvantage size-wise, but we were able to make some steals because we were able to collapse them and get some loose balls. Our guys did a nice job at getting those and turning them into some easy baskets.”
Do or die
With the Conference-USA Tournament two weeks away, UTEP has some work to do to if it wants to be part of the 12-team field. The Miners (9-18, 4-11 C-USA) are currently 12th in the league standings, a game up on Rice (3-12) and three games ahead of Charlotte (1-14). The Miners still have a game remaining at Rice next weekend, but for now the task at hand is a date with Southern Miss on Saturday.
“We have four games left in the regular season and basically six practices with a couple of shoot-arounds,” interim head coach Phil Johnson said prior to the start of this week. “Can we give everything that we’ve got? That’s the message (to the team). They all seem like they want to do that, and I think they will…. We need to go play well this week at home in front of our fans. It’s our last two home games. And then we have a bigger picture, trying to get in the Conference-USA Tournament. We’re right there, but we need to win a few more games.”
The Miners’ effort began in fine fashion on Thursday, when they edged visiting Louisiana Tech 74-72. Omega Harris led four UTEP players in double-figures with 21 points.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles are:
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against teams with losing records
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games against teams with winning percentages under .400
- 19-8-1 ATS in their last 28 games following an ATS loss
The UTEP Miners are:
- 1-6 ATS in their last seven overall
- 1-5 ATS in their last six home games
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games against teams with losing records
Both Griffin and Edwards are averaging more than 15 points per game for the Golden Eagles, who should be confident heading into this one based on their previous performance against UTEP. Griffin and Edwards are also combining for an impressive 4.0 steals per contest on the defensive end of the floor. Southern Miss is 6-1 ATS in its last seven against losing opponents, 4-1 ATS in its last five against opponents with winning percentages under .400, and 19-8-1 ATS in its last 28 following an ATS loss. The Miners are 1-6 ATS in their last seven overall, 1-6 ATS in their last seven against Conference-USA, 1-5 ATS in their last six at home, 1-4 ATS in their last five against losing opponents, 1-4 ATS in their last five at home against opponents with losing road records, and 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings between the two teams. Look for those trends to continue.