Career high day for DeAndre Pinckney leads Southern Miss past James Madison 83-70

HATTIESBURG, Ms – DeAndre Pinckney made his presence felt early, as his 28-point performance led Southern Miss past James Madison 83-70 to stay undefeated at home. While the Dukes neutralized co-stars Austin Crowley and Felipe Hasse, they could not account for Pinckney’s presence in the paint.

“Thanks to my teammates for passing me the ball. I know I work on my game a lot.” Pickney said. “I’ve worked a ton; my teammates trust me and my coaches trust me. It’s my job to make sure I do my job which is to make shots, play defense, and make everybody better around me. And the shots were falling tonight.”


It was evident early on that Southern Miss would have success inside on the scrappy Duke’s defense. At the first media timeout, Hasse, Pinckney and Denijay Harris all had four points to put Southern Miss up by one, 12-11.


“I thought James Madison had a great team. Very well coached, and we knew it was going to be a great challenge. And I thought our guys really came out ready and I thought they played great for 40 minutes.” Head coach Jay Ladner said.


The Golden Eagles’ ball movement, shot selection, and team chemistry this afternoon were on full display on every possession. In the first half, Southern Miss was able to generate a scoring percentage of 66.7% on all their possessions. With 12 combined assists and nine points off of turnovers.


“We don’t want guys sitting there and just banging the ball on the floor. They’ve got a half second to decide if you’re going to shoot it, pass it or at that point, get rid of dribble it. This stuff about standing and bouncing the ball is not it. Two of the best that we have at it are Austin Crowley and Felipe Haase. Those two guys are our leading scorers, and those are the guys that  are quick to pass the ball to other guys too. When you have guys like that, who are capable of having big offensive nights and two of your best players. But they’re also two of your most unselfish players. You got a chance to have pretty good basketball team.” Ladner said.


At halftime, Southern Miss led 43-36. Pinckney led the team in scoring with 12, and no other Golden Eagle had more than six. Southern Miss also had a presence from the bench, with 12 points from the bench. The Golden Eagles also had 20 points in the paint; as mentioned, they made their presence known.


Another player to make his presence known was Neftali Alverez. Alverez has been out since mid-November for injury and saw his first action on Thursday night. Alverez talked about his road to recovery since he last saw action.


“I went to Puerto Rico for three weeks and see my daughter and I was checking on my food, how my injury was with the rehab for like three weeks, and X ray, MRI, all of that. And then like last two weeks in Puerto Rico. He [doctor in Puerto Rico] gave me the green light but not to play. He just wanted me to work out with my culture back home. And I was doing that working out with everyone back in Puerto Rico and see how it looked like. And then last week he gave me like the green light to come back and play for Southern Miss.” Alverez said.


Today, Alverez was all over the floor. He was making his presence known on both ends of the floor. He finished the day with five points, four assists, and two steals. He was always on the man he was guarding and set up his teammates with wide-open shots. The Golden Eagles are happy to have him back in the lineup.


“He’s got such an explosive first step and he’s strong and he gets back too. But I got on him a little bit today because I thought he passed up a couple of shots in there when he had open layups and he tried to make the extra play. At the end of the day, I love that because that’s what we’re about. We’re about family.” Ladner said.



Southern Miss finished the day with 60% shooting compared to 43% from James Madison. Southern Miss finished with a season-high 23 assists. Pinckney led the team with 28 points; his 11 made field goals were the most by a Golden Eagle this season. Crowley followed behind him with 14 points. Hasse had nine with a three-pointer.


The Golden Eagles never lost the lead in the game and held James Madison to 73 points. The Dukes were the No. 1 team in scoring offense in the Sun Belt, but USM was able to slow them down.


“We are the No. 1 team in the Sun Belt conference, and they are the No. 1 team in scoring offense, so something had to give. It goes back to the crowd, and to the defense that Coach Cardona coaches.” Ladner said.


Southern Miss played in front of 4,318 fans, the most in the Jay Ladner era, with the student section not even close to the total capacity.


“It means a lot. I’ve been out there and seen nobody in the stands and for that to go from a hundred fans to four thousand is big. Because we know that we put in the work and the coaches trust us.” Pinckney said.


Southern Miss also clinched a winning season. After last season, where they only won seven games, clinching emphasizes the insane turnaround Ladner and this team have had.


Southern Miss improves to 17-4 and 6-2 in conference play. They will take on Arkansas State from Reed Green next Thursday at 7 PM. They have faced the Red Wolves already this season in a contest where they won 74-57.