HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball team begins its Conference USA slate this Thursday, January 9, when it travels to Denton, Texas to face North Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.
Southern Miss and North Texas will meet for the 22nd time and the first since 1989. The Golden Eagles hold a 16-5 advantage. This will be the first-ever meeting as conference foes. When played at North Texas, the Golden Eagles hold a 6-4 advantage. Southern Miss has won the last seven games in the series.
Southern Miss enters tonight's game with a 13-2 record. The Golden Eagles have won four straight games after defeating Drexel, 66-49, last Friday night.
Senior guard Neil Watson leads the team with 11.8 points. He also leads Conference USA and is ninth in the country (as of Jan. 5) in free throw percentage, connecting on 91.5-percent from the charity stripe while adding 3.7 assists. Senior forward Daveon Boardingham is averaging 10.5 points per game. He is pulling down 4.3 rebounds per game and is ninth in Conference USA in field goal percentage, connecting on 56.4-percent from the floor. Senior forward Michael Craig is adding 10.0 points and a team-high 7.5 boards. Junior forward Aaron Brown is scoring 9.8 points and senior guard Jerrold Brooks is averaging 9.2 points.
Southern Miss is averaging 73.1 points per game and is leading C-USA by allowing just 62.1. The Golden Eagles are connecting on 47.1% from the field and 33.3% from three while allowing just 42.2% from the floor and 33.8% from behind the arc. Southern Miss is also outrebounding its opponents, 35.6-to-28.7 and is second in the league and 14th in the country (as of Dec. 29) with 9.3 steals per game.
North Texas enters tonight's game with a 9-5 record. The Mean Green have won four straight after defeating UC-Riverside, 76-72, Saturday afternoon.
Senior guard Alzee Williams leads North Texas with 14.4 points. Junior guard Jordan Williams is averaging 10.7 points and pulling down a team-high 6.3 rebounds. Junior guard Chris Jones is scoring 8.5 points and is seventh in Conference USA with 3.8 assists. Sophomore guard Maurice Aniefiok is fourth in C-USA, connecting on 47.4-percent of his three-point attempts.
The Mean Green is averaging 73.3 points while allowing 73.3 points. UNT is connecting on just 42.3-percent from the floor and 33.2% from three and allowing 41.7-percent from the floor and 33.9% from three. North Texas is third in the conference in rebounding, pulling down 40.9 boards per game, while giving up 38.7.
Head coach Tony Benford is in his second year as the head of the North Texas program, where he has a 21-25 (.457) record.