HATTIESBURG -- It was Senior Day for the Southern Miss basketball team Saturday and the two Golden Eagle seniors sure did their part.
Kourtlin Jackson poured in 27 points and Michael O'Donnell was next in scoring with 16 to lead USM to a 81-70 Conference USA victory over North Texas at Reed Green Coliseum.
USM's two seniors started the game off right for the Golden Eagles. O'Donnell hit the first shot of the game, a 3-pointer, just 34 seconds into the game, and Jackson followed, also with a 3-pointer to put USM ahead 6-0.
Michael Ramey -- only a junior -- got into the act from long range, too, to make it 9-0 with 17:49 left in the opening half.
And Southern Miss stayed ahead the entire game, to make its overall record 8-19 and its C-USA mark 5-11.
"Both our families were here," Jackson said after USM's final home game of the season. "It was the last game they were going to see us play. We were not going to lose."
O'Donnell, who came into the game averaging 4.5 points, was happy, too.
"We wanted to play the best we could," he said. "We went out there and did it. We got the job done."
Southern Miss led from start to finish but it was not as easy as it might sound. The point difference was only three points, 27-24, with 3:31 left in the first half and five, at 35-30, at halftime.
But the Golden Eagles stretched their lead to as many as 17 points, 62-45, when Jackson scored on a goal-tending call with 6:02 to play in the game and then they hit most of their free throws in the final minutes.
"We hit some shots early," USM coach Doc Sadler. "We all know that's not going to last."
Still, the Eagles made 22 of 46 field goals (47.6 percent), 11 of 27 3-pointers (40.7 percent) and 26 of 37 free throws (70.3 percent).
North Texas (11-18, 6-10 C-USA) hit 21 of 54 (38.9 percent) of its field goals, 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) of its 3-pointers and 19 of 28 (67.9 percent) of its free throws.
North Texas was averaging 74.6 points per game going into Saturday night's contest.
"That team was scoring a lot of points," Sadler said. "For the first 38 minutes, our defense was really, really good. That's a tribute to our guys playing hard."
Sadler also was pleased with his team's 15 assists and only 10 turnovers.
"That was the difference in the ball game," he said.
Besides the scoring of Jackson and O'Donnell, Ramey scored 10 points, all in the first half, Quinton Campbell had 8 and Raheem Watts and Khari Price each scored 7. Campbell led the Eagles in rebounding with 8.
For the Mean Green, Jeremy Combs and Ja'Michael Brown each scored 15 and J-Mychal and Carrington Reese each had 13.
But really, it was all about the seniors, and Sadler said they made a difference in the Southern Miss program.
"The contributions they have made is not in wins and losses," he said. "One is graduating in May and another is working on his Masters degree. They never had a chance to play in a conference tournament (because of USM's self-imposed NCAA sanctions under former coach Donnie Tyndall's years at the school) but not one time did either one of those guys complain."
Southern Miss will play at Western Kentucky on Thursday and finish its season Saturday at Marshall.