Redshirt senior Kourtlin Jackson tied a season-high with 25 points to lead Southern Miss past Southeastern Oklahoma State 66-52 in its final non-conference game here Tuesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
The Golden Eagles won for the third time in the last five contests to improve to 3-8 on the season.
“It’s always good to get a win, especially when you do some things that you have been talking about for two or three days in practice,” said Southern Miss second-year coach Doc Sadler. “The thing that we have to understand is that the 16 assists (in the game) is something that has to take place. If we don’t share the basketball then we are going to struggle.”
The 16 assists tied a season-high for the Golden Eagles, as they also notched that number against North Dakota State.
In addition, Southern Miss held the Savage Storm (4-6) to a season-low points total and also forced 19 turnovers in the contest that into 14 points for the home squad, while limiting them to 39.6 percent shooting from the floor (19-of-48).
Jackson, who notched his season-high point total for the second time in the last four contests, converted 8-of-9 shots from the floor and made all four attempts from 3-point range, while converting 5-of-8 from the free throw.
“In the three wins that we have had, one guy has had to have a heck of a night and Kourtlin had that night tonight,” said Sadler. “He is playing more and more minutes and understanding more and more and we are going to need him. You look at him going 8-for-9, but he got (a season-high tying) eight rebounds and that is a good night.”
After trading baskets to start the game, Jackson scored the first five points for the home squad and Southern Miss never trailed after that point. The Golden Eagles eventually built a double-digit lead on the strength of Jackson’s 17 first-half points.
Jackson finished the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer with eight seconds left and the Golden Eagles enjoyed their biggest lead of the first 20 minutes of 15 points, leading 36-21 at intermission.
The Savage Storm tried to rally in the second half, cutting the margin to nine at 44-35 with 11:30 to play but that was as close as they got the rest of the way as the Golden Eagles led by as many as 18 points down the stretch.
Junior Raheem Watts added 10 points for Southern Miss, while Bzai paced SOSU with 12 points, while Anton Cook added 11.
The Golden Eagles open Conference USA play this Saturday at Louisiana Tech. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.