Southern Miss won its second straight men’s basketball game Saturday, beating the UTEP Miners 73-65 at Reed Green Coliseum.
It may be a small streak, but with a 5-10 record (2-1 in Conference USA) and having lost 10 in a row before this week, it’s a welcome one.
“Feels great!” said USM coach Doc Sadler. “To get a home win against UTEP, how can you not feel any better?”
Saturday’s game at Reed Green Coliseum also was the second of the season for point guard Khari Price. Although Price only scored one point, the Golden Eagles committed only 11 turnovers — five below their average.
“Khari didn’t score many points (1), but look at the turnovers,” Sadler said. “We were averaging 18, but back to back we’ve only had 10 or 11.”
And while USM missed its last seven field goals of the game, Quinton Campbell and Cortez Edwards more than made up for the late offensive woes. Campbell finished with 24 points and Edwards added 17.
For UTEP (2-13, 0-3), Coach Tim Floyd, a Hattiesburg native, is now 0-7 at Reed Green Coliseum, where his father, Lee, used to be the head coach (in the 1960s and 1970s). UTEP has now lost 12 straight games.
For the Miners, Omega Harris scored 26 points and Dominic Harris totaled 23.
After the score stayed relatively close for most of the first half, Edwards and Campbell took over, at least offensively. Edwards scored eight points on a dunk and three lay-ups and Campbell added six points on a 3-pointer and three free throws to lift Southern Miss from a 27-25 deficit to a 39-31 halftime lead.
Campbell totaled 12 points in the first half.
“I took advantage of my opportunities,” Edwards said. “The guys just started making plays. It was guys stepping up.”
And stepping into the right area of the court.
“When they went zone (defense), we went motion (offense),” Sadler said. “Cortez got a couple of easy baskets by moving (inside). The guys did a nice job of not being in a structured offense.”
UTEP cut its deficit to four points, 48-44, with 12:06 left in the second half, but points by six different Golden Eagles in the next six minutes stretched the USM lead to 15, 67-52, when Campbell sank a 3-pointer with 5:55 to go in the game.
That was the last Southern Miss field goal, and while the Miners made one final run, it was not enough.
The Eagles made six more free throws, and had the victory.
Campbell, whose 24 points was a career high for him, was proud of the win, but stayed humble.
“(Two wins in a row) feels good but you can’t get too excited,” he said.
Southern Miss will be on the road next week, played at Old Dominion on Thursday and at Charlotte on Saturday.