Southern Miss (24-6) at Marshall (17-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cam Henderson Center (9,043) -- Huntington, West Virginia. Television: FSN. Home Record: USM 15-0, MU 12-4. Away Record: USM 7-5, MU 5-7. Neutral Record: USM 2-1, MU 0-1. Conference Record: USM 11-4, MU 8-7. Series Record: Series is tied, 6-6.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles will close out their regular season with a visit to the Cam Henderson Center for a Conference USA battle with the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Tonight will be the second encounter between Southern Miss and Marshall of the season and the 13th in history. The Golden Eagles tied the series record up, 6-6, with their 67-63 victory over Marshall in Hattiesburg on Jan. 21 in this season's initial bout. The Thundering Herd are 6-1 against USM in Huntington.
Larry Eustachy led the Golden Eagles to their second straight win as they earned a 67-60 decision over the SMU Mustangs on Wednesday. The victory made USM 24-6 overall and kept them just one game behind Memphis for first place in the C-USA. As Memphis plays third-place Tulsa today, Southern Miss can finish no lower than second. The Golden Eagles' success has come from a balanced effort on both ends of the floor this season. USM is third in the league in scoring offense (71.5) while it holds opponents to 63.7 ppg.
USM's leading scorer Neil Watson continued to play well on Wednesday as he netted a game-high 18 points versus SMU. LaShay Page returned to action against the Mustangs after missing a game due to a family member's death. Page, who is the team's second leading scorer with an average of 11.8 ppg, scored just three points in 20 minutes of action in his return. Darnell Dodson, Maurice Bolden, and Jonathan Mills are all crucial elements of the Golden Eagles offensive attacks and the three consistently battle on the boards for Eustachy.
Marshall will try to regain its composure today after suffering setbacks in its last two outings. Last Saturday, the Thundering Herd were dealt an 87-67 defeat by Memphis before they submitted a disappointing performance in their 69-68 overtime loss to East Carolina on Wednesday. Coach Tom Herrion had Marshall fans fully engaged earlier in the season after the team's excellent start. The Thundering Herd has gone 4-8 in the last 12 games, which has left them with a 17-12 overall record and in a tie for sixth place in the C-USA standings.
The success MU has had this season came due to the play of DeAndre Kane, Damier Pitts, and Dennis Tinnon. Kane has had an excellent sophomore season with a fourth-best in the league average of 15.8 ppg, but he has suffered shooting woes as of late. The sophomore guard has gone 12-of-36 from the field and 6-of-16 from the free throw line in his last two games. Pitts is producing 14.4 points and a team-best 4.5 assists per game. Tinnon has made the Herd into one of the nation's top rebounding teams. The junior forward has grabbed a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game in his first year at Marshall.
The Thundering Herd's recent struggles could be solved by a trip home to the Cam Henderson Center, where they are 12-4. Southern Miss managed to just get by Marshall the first time they played this season, but Page played a crucial role with 15 points. USM will need its talented guard to produce against MU's Pitts and Shaquille Johnson to add to the Herd's losing streak.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 68, Southern Miss 65
03/03 10:38:09 ET