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Andre Curbelo’s Triple-Double Propels Southern Miss to Victory Over Georgia State

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Southern Miss Athletics

Andre Curbelo notched a triple-double to help lead Southern Miss basketball past Georgia State 79-73

“I think he’s just going to get better and better as the season goes,” Southern Miss head coach Jay Ladner said.

Curbelo finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Curbelo became the first Southern Miss player to notch a triple-double since Ronald Jackson did it in 1980. Curbelo and Austin Crowley were surprised to hear that that was when Ladner was in high school after the game.

“I’m happy, but next game mentality we got a good one coming up,” Curbelo said. “I’ll enjoy what just happened, and I’ll enjoy the win, but it’s all about getting better and building that chemistry up.”

Curbelo’s season journey has been a roller-coaster of emotions. Southern Miss had all but given up that he would play while trying to appeal the NCAA rule on his transfer to Southern Miss.

There were no messages from the NCAA. There were no emails. There were no phone calls. Ladner and the team were still determining when or even if Curbelo would ever see the floor this season.

“I was struggling,” Curbelo said. “Mentally, physically. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to go about my day. I didn’t know how to prepare.

That all changed on December 13 when Judge John Preston Bailey issued a restraining order for 14 days that resulted in the immediate eligibility of any college athletes seeking a multi-transfer. This was eventually extended for the entire season, and Curbelo’s dream of playing this season was granted. Curbelo took the floor for the first time against Lamar and has battled his way into the starting lineup.

Tonight, he put his mark in Southern Miss history with a triple-double

“It is very ironic that just a few weeks ago, the mood around here is that he wouldn’t be eligible,” Ladner said. “But he makes a big difference for our team, and we have just got to try and build that chemistry and cohesiveness.”

While the night was highlighted by Curbelo’s triple-double, several other Golden Eagles had a night worth noting, starting with Crowley.

Crowley had 25 points, on 3-4 from downtown and five rebounds. Crowley, who has been struggling over the past few weeks, started out fast with eight quick points to get the Eagles rolling early. They never looked back once they took the lead early in the first half. Every time Georgia State would make a push to get back into the game, Crowley, Curbelo or another Eagle would make a play to hold them off.

“Tonight, we had lineups where we were four out and one in,” Crowley said. “We had shooters on the outside where they can’t double me and it opens a lot up for me.”

The play of Victor Iwuakor also highlighted Southern Miss’s night. Iwuakor, who is still trying to find himself inside the paint, played very well tonight against the Panthers. He put up 10 points, along with seven rebounds and an assist. That play also came with four blocks, giving the Golden Eagles’ defense an element they had not previously had.

“He brings an element that we really haven’t had,” Ladner said. “In the terms of a real shot blocker.”

With the win, Southern Miss gets back on the right track after the embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern last Saturday. The win comes at the right time, with undefeated and nationally ranked James Madison coming into Reed Green Coliseum on Saturday.

“We played a great game with them her last year,” Ladner said. “They have all of those players back. They are long and athletic; they are very deep. They can score it. We are really going to have to be on top of our game if we want to beat them.”

Southern Miss improves to 7-7, 1-1 in Sun Belt. They host No. 19 James Madison (14-0) on Saturday, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. The Dukes will be the first ranked opponent to come to Hattiesburg since 2011.

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