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Southern Miss Basketball aims for home court dominance

Charlie Luttrell

Southern Miss Basketball Aims for Home Court Dominance Amidst Road Trip Setbacks

Golden Eagle Men’s Basketball is back home for a six-game home stretch where it has only lost one game in its last two seasons. However, on the road, Southern Miss struggles. In this article, the last four games will be broken down as the team and the media begin to look past this road trip that led to a three-game losing streak.

To start the road trip, Southern Miss entertainingly beat Coastal Carolina on January 24th. Over the first eight minutes, Southern Miss was shooting 53.8 percent. Donovan Ivory led the Golden Eagles with 28 points and had 19 points at halftime, helping Southern Miss take a commanding 44-26 lead. Coastal Carolina started the second half on a 14-point run, taking the lead down to four. Donovan Ivory drained a three to snuff the comeback, and the scoring went back and forth until the Golden Eagles went on an 8-0 run. Jeffrey Armstrong scored a career-high ten points, getting back-to-back threes. Southern Miss made a season-high 13 three-pointers, helping them to get a three-game winning streak.

On Saturday, January 27th, Southern Miss lost 83-67 at Marshall. Southern Miss was on a three-game winning streak heading into the Cam Henderson Center but ran into a buzzsaw in The Thundering Herd. Marshall shot 63 percent in the first half and 56.4 percent in the entire game. The Golden Eagles shot well, too, shooting 47.1 percent, but it was not enough to keep up with The Thundering Herd. Southern Miss was down 25 points and then cut the lead to 12 points after going on a 13-0 run in a very short three minutes. Marshall put out the Golden Eagle run after their lead dropped to only ten, and ended the game on a 6-0 run. Austin Crowley scored 18, and Cobie Montgomery scored 17, setting a career-high of three points made with five.

Southern Miss played a very clean game the following Wednesday, January 31st, only turning the ball over four times, but still fell short as a comeback was once again snuffed out, losing 78-71 to Arkansas State. The Golden Eagles were leading 37-36 at the half, and before this loss, were 9-0 on the season when leading at the half. Southern Miss did not score a field goal from 12:45 left in the second half at 3:51 remaining in the game. However, the Golden Eagles cut a 13-point deficit to a five-point one at 3:51 because that basket followed a series of free throws. Southern Miss shot 35.6 percent compared to Arkansas State’s 46.8 percent.

On the conclusion of the road trip at Texas State, Southern Miss was winded. A sickness had come through the team, and three players required IVs before the game started. This showed when the Golden Eagles were 16 for 49, which is 32.7 percent. Despite this percentage, Southern Miss was only down by seven at halftime, and even though the lead grew to 11 in the second half, Southern Miss brought it back to a tie after outscoring the Bobcats 20-9 over ten minutes. After tying the game at 46 with 7:28 left to go, the Golden Eagles fell behind, tying the game back up at 54 with 1:49 left after Austin Crowley hit a three-pointer. Texas State proceeded to outscore Southern Miss 6-1 over the final minute and change to pick up the win, officially giving the Golden Eagles a losing streak of three.

As the team and media both look ahead to Wednesday’s matchup against Old Dominion, there are a few keys to ending the season on a high note:
If students show up and show out like they did against Arkansas State and Troy in the last two home games, one of the most hostile environments in the country will be formed.
Southern Miss needs to lock in and have that high shooting percentage like they did against Marshall. Against The Thundering Herd, that marked the tenth time Southern Miss shot over 45 percent this season. If the Golden Eagles can replicate that shooting success, combined with the environment, games in Reed Green will quickly become a place where visiting teams’ dreams go to die.
The three-point defense needs to continue to be addressed.
Coach Juan Cardona has schemed a suffocating defense over the last two seasons, but the three-point defense has been lacking over the course of this season. Coach Jay Ladner and Cardona have begun to address this issue by moving back to their positionless approach that led to so much success last season. However, with injuries to Andre Curbelo and Victor Hart and illnesses sweeping the team on their road stretch, there was not enough depth to continue to play that way for 40 full minutes, allowing the three-point defense to falter again. If these three things come together, this Golden Eagle Basketball team could win five, if not sweep, this six-game home stretch. Ensure that you follow SM2 Media for coverage of Golden Eagle Basketball and Southern Miss.

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