GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles will attempt to halt their recent slide on Thursday night when they return home to Reed Green Coliseum to face off against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in Conference-USA action.
UTSA had lost four straight before righting the ship on Saturday afternoon with a 66-56 home victory over Florid Atlantic. Wins have come few and far between this season for the Roadrunners, who are just 8-of-16 overall (1-9 on the road) and 4-7 in the league.
USM was riding high a few weeks ago, having won seven straight games and in the driver's seat for the regular-season C-USA title, but it has since dropped back-to-back road games at UAB on Feb. 13 (84-60) and Middle Tennessee on Saturday (81-64) to slip to 8-3 in the conference, a game behind Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and Texas-El Paso for first place. The Golden Eagles are still an outstanding 21-5 overall this season and have won all 11 of their game at home.
With this being UTSA's first season as a member of C-USA, these two squads have never before faced one another.
The Roadrunners enjoyed one of their most well-rounded performances of the season last weekend, as they opened up a 12-point lead at the half over FAU and held on for the double-digit victory, outshooting their opponent from the floor, 42.9 percent to 31.3 percent, earning an 18-7 scoring edge at the free- throw line, and winning the rebounding battle, 18-7. Devon Agusi tallied 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, Jordan Sims netted 14 points and Edrico McGregor logged eight points and 10 rebounds.
On the season, UTSA boasts a respectable offense, shooting 43.3 percent from the field for 70.6 ppg, but it has gone to waste thanks to a porous defense, which allows 77.8 ppg on greater than 47 percent shooting. Keon Lewis went scoreless in the last game but still leads the team in scoring with 13.4 ppg, although he's mostly been a product of volume with a disappointing .368 field goal percentage. Agusi (12.0 ppg), Sims (11.2 ppg) and Hyjii Thomas (9.9 ppg) are also solid scorers, while McGregor (7.2 ppg) hauls in a team-best 6.0 rpg.
The Golden Eagles came out flat against Middle Tennessee their last time out, as they fell behind by 18 at the half and never threatened the lead after intermission. They shot an impressive 48.9 percent from the field but couldn't keep pace with the Blue Raiders, who shot 53.7 percent, and they were thoroughly outscored from 3-point range (33-15) and the foul line (26-13). Neil Watson paced the losing effort with 17 points, while Michael Craig and Jeremiah Eason poured in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Its recent skid aside, USM has impressed on both end of the floor this season, shooting 46.5 percent from the field for 72.5 ppg while allowing just 63.2 ppg on 42.8 percent shooting on the other end. It also lives comfortably in the positive in terms of its rebounding (+7.0) and turnover (+2.2) margins. No one scores more than Watson's 11.8 ppg, but five players net at least 8.8 ppg and 10 put up 2.4 ppg or more. Craig (11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Daveon Boardingham (10.3 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers and both shoot greater than 58 percent from the field.
USM may have lost its stranglehold on the C-USA standings, but it should be able to get healthy in a hurry in its return home against the struggling Roadrunners.
Game Date and Time