HATTIESBURG, Miss. It was home-cooking for the Golden Eagle men's basketball team as it played in Reed Green Coliseum for the first time in 30 days. Tyree Griffin scored 21 points and added seven assists to help the Black and Gold to a 77-70 win over Middle Tennessee on Thursday night.
"I'm not sure we played better tonight than we had been playing (in recent losses), but we scored more points," head coach Doc Sadler said. "The thing that we have to continue to do is something we did tonight: shoot even at the free-throw line. Both teams made 13 free-throws. I thought there were two big keys: we allowed only five offensive rebounds and didn't let Antonio Green, who is averaging 20 points per game, go crazy on us. We also had guys make some shots. That was as many threes as we have had in a while, and that's what's going to be a key for our future."
Southern Miss (9-7, 1-3 C-USA) led by as much as 16 with 15:32 to go as Griffin connected on a triple. The Blue Raiders were able to get within 65-59 at the 2:54 mark, but it was the closest they would get. Griffin immediately connected on two free-throws, then Kevin Holland added his second three-pointer of the night (on as many attempts) to push the margin to 70-59 with 1:42 remaining.
LaDavius Draine continued his torrid pace with two three-pointers on four tries, making him 11-for-20 the last four games. Cortez Edwards led the squad in both assists and rebounds (eight). The Golden Eagles also succeeded in their concerted effort to limit Blue Raider star Antonio Green to 3-for-14 shooting, including 2-for-9 from deep, which Sadler said came from Edwards' stellar defensive play.
Donovan Sims led Middle Tennessee with 28 points on 12-for-16 shooting.
"We went on the road three times," Sadler said about the start of conference play. "If you look at our league, including tonight, the home teams win. That's what you're supposed to do. We've got our work cut out for us on Saturday against a very good UAB team. We have to come out with a good practice tomorrow and play better than we did tonight. It's one game at a time."
The Golden Eagles host the Blazers at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, and the game will air on ESPN Plus.
-Southern Miss has now won back-to-back meetings with Middle Tennessee after starting 1-7 in the all-time series. The previous matchup came when the Golden Eagles knocked off the top-seeded Blue Raiders in the 2018 C-USA Quarterfinals.
-Southern Miss shot 13-for-17 at the free-throw line (76.5 percent), its best of the season. It also went 7-for-9 (77.8 percent) against SMU on Nov. 11.
-Tyree Griffin now has 10, 20-plus point games in his career. Six of those have come against C-USA foes.
-Cortez Edwards' eight assists were his most against a Division I team since he had 10 against Rice on Jan. 18, 2018.
-The Golden Eagles were 8-for-16 from beyond the arc, the second time they've cracked 50 percent this season (also 13-for-24 at SMU).
-It was also the fourth time in the last five games they have made eight or more treys.
-This was the first time this season that Southern Miss won the rebounding battle (34-28). It had also tied against Troy and South Alabama, both wins.