Keeping Score

USM, UTEP set to collide in C-USA Tourney semifinals

Southern Miss thumped UAB, 81-66, and UTEP cruised past Houston, 80-69, Thursday to set up Friday's 3 p.m. Conference USA Tournament semifinal contest.

Friday's game will mark the second time this season that UTEP and USM have played with the Golden Eagles coming out on top in a 45-39 contest in Hattiesburg.

The Miners did their best to slow the game down during the Feb. 23 contest, and you can expect a similar effort on Friday in Tulsa.

"We're going to have to move the ball a lot better," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said in a post-game interview with CBS Sports.

USM point guard Neil Watson is currently hot as can be from the 3-point line after hitting six-of-eight 3-pointers Thursday against UAB. In his last two games against the Blazers, Watson is 12-of-14 on 3-pointers.

“It’s the tournament," Watson said. "You can’t have any bad games and they were just our first game. I felt confident and our team is confident that we’d come out and play hard and with energy and that was the key to the game."

Watson, who did not start Friday's game because of an undisclosed disciplinary matter, hit all seven 3-point attempts back on March 2 against East Carolina.

Dwayne Davis had a big second half Thursday to put up 20 points. Over the last three games, he is averaging 29.7 points.

UTEP will again have the distinct size advantage, but it's fair to assume that USM will improve on its offensive output this time around.

As most of you know, Floyd has deep ties to USM after he watched his dad, Lee, serve as the head coach in Hattiesburg. Lee Floyd twice served as the USM coach, a five-year stint starting in 1949 and for nine years beginning in 1962.

Tim Floyd played basketball as a walk-on at USM before transferring to Louisiana Tech, where he was a scholarship player.