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Southern Miss Stumbles in Biloxi Battle, falls to Ole Miss 89-72

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Southern Miss Athletics
Andre Curbelo (11) brings the ball up the floor during the first half of Southern Miss’ 89-72 loss to Ole Miss.

BILOXI – Santa did not come early for Southern Miss fans as Southern Miss fell to Ole Miss 89-72 in Biloxi on Saturday afternoon.

It was the team’s first meeting since 2011.

The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 16 times, which Ole Miss turned into 26 points, which was the difference in the game.

“Ole Miss has a good team, very well coached,” Southern Miss head coach Jay Ladner said after the game. “Chis Beard is one of the best in the business. They shot the ball extremely well today.”

The Golden Eagles never led, but they did manage to pull the Rebels lead within 10 points with eight minutes to play. However, USM committed four turnovers in four possessions, all turning into Rebel points that stretched the lead back out to 16, which was the game’s story.

“They kind of rocked us, to begin with,” Ladner said. “I was proud of the way our guys responded. We took a couple of hard punches early, then I thought we went toe to toe with a really good team.”

To add to the Golden Eagles’ stocking of coal, their leading scorer, Austin Crowley, had zero points. He was held scoreless during the entire first half by his former team and was hit in the head early in the second half, which sidelined him for the rest of the game.

Ladner said that Crowley suffered a “possible concussion.” Ladner said that the officials missed the call and came over and told him after the play that they had missed it.

“Austin is a great player,” Ladner said. “I’ve never been around a player that works harder than he does. It’s unfortunate that against his former team that ended up happening.”

It is safe to say that Crowley’s absence, both in his scoring ability and controllability on the floor, really hurt the Golden Eagles. Other starters, like Victor Iwuakor, noted how tough it was to find an offensive identity without Crowley on the floor.

“It was tough,” Iwuakor said. “It was tough definitely. That’s our best player, and it’s kind of tough not having him but we still have to in there and play. Next man up.”

Iwuakor finished with 13 points, four rebounds and two assists. Cobie Montgomery led all Southern Miss scorers off the bench with 15 points and a pair of rebounds.

“It was very tough not having a key player in the game,” Montgomery said. “But we got the guys who can step up for sure.”

The Golden Eagles had two starters with zero points in Crowley and Tegra Izay but made up for it with 40 bench points.

On the other side, Ole Miss shot the ball exceptionally well. They were shooting nearly 50% for the game, including 57% from the arc. The Rebels nailed 11 of 19 three-pointers, which seemed like spurts every time USM made a slight push at the Rebels’ lead.

“Hats off to them on the way they shot the ball,” Montgomery said. “It is very hard to stay in the game with a team shooting like that. But I felt like we held our own, and we battled.”

Southern Miss fans also got their second look at Andre Curbelo, who recently had his waiver approved by the NCAA ruling a couple of days ago.

Curbelo filled Crowley’s shoes quite nicely, adding 13 points and an assist to the scorecard.

The Rebels continue their hot start, improving to 12-0.

Southern Miss falls to 6-6. They will travel to Atlanta to face off against Georgia Southern (0-12) on December 30. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

They will enter conference play with a losing record against Division I Opponents for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

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