The Southern Miss Golden Eagles look to slow down the No. 8 Arizona Wildcats as the two teams meet at the McKale Center for a non-conference bout on Tuesday.
The Golden Eagles are coming off of a 68-60 setback to New Mexico State. The loss was the first of the season for Southern Miss, which won its first six games to start the 2012-13 campaign. The team outlasted Western Kentucky and Georgia for overtime victories in Mid-November before taking down UC Irvine, Liberty, and Denver. Head coach Donnie Tyndall is in his first season at the helm of the Southern Miss program. He has compiled a 120-86 (.583) record in seven years as a head coach. USM is averaging only 64.9 ppg this season.
Sean Miller's Wildcats have been impossible to tame this season. Arizona reeled off its fifth win in a row on Saturday by completing an 85-57 rout of the previously unbeaten Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock. The team has outscored its opponents by an average of 24.6 ppg and ranks in the top 10 in Division I in points per game (85.2), assists (18.2) and field-goal percentage (.523). Arizona has been held under 80 points just once this season.
Southern Miss and Arizona will meet for just the third time ever and the first time in 58 years. Arizona won the previous two meetings. The Wildcats won the only other meeting in Tucson, 90-56, in 1950.
The Golden Eagles fell behind early at NMSU and never managed to overcome a double-digit deficit they allowed their opponents to create in the opening half. Southern Miss was held to just 35.1 percent shooting, including just 5- of-18 from three-point range. Jonathan Mills and Michael Craig scored 12 points each in the loss. Senior forward Dwayne Davis is pacing the team with 15.1 ppg. Mills is the team's top rebounder with 7.6 rpg. Craig, Jerrold Brooks, and Neil Watson are all big contributors while Rashard McGill sees his fair share of playing time due to his defensive capabilities.
Arizona is not only efficient on the offensive end. Last time out it won the rebounding battle 41-26 and held the Red Raiders to 34.9 percent shooting from the field. Still, the high-octane offense was on display as well. The Wildcats converted 15-of-24 field-goal attempts after halftime and finished 17-of-21 at the charity stripe in the contest. Sophomore guard Nick Johnson paced the team with 18 points, while Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill netted 14 points each. Hill and Johnson are tied for the team lead with 14 ppg. Johnson (11.8 ppg) and Brandon Ashley (11 ppg) are both contributing scoring averages in double figures as well. Although he does not score as frequently as his teammates, freshman seven-footer Kaleb Tarczewski impacted the game with his interior presence and rebounding ability.