How did Southern Mississippi react to having an 11-game winning streak snapped? By starting another one.
Southern Miss rallied in the closing minutes to beat visiting Alabama-Birmingham 59-55 on Jan. 14. The win came three days after the Golden Eagles suffered a heartbreaking, 60-58 loss at Memphis.
"Most of our guys are conditioned not to let one game affect the next, whether it's a loss or a win," Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy said. "They're resilient. They bounce back."
Southern Miss is also pretty good. With a 16-3 overall record through Jan. 15, the Golden Eagles had more victories than any team in Conference USA and they were tied for third in the conference standings with Central Florida at 3-1, trailing Marshall (4-0) and Memphis (3-0).
"Our guys know we have to be at our best to win most nights in our league, and they pride themselves on being at their best," Eustachy said.
Southern Miss next faces first-place Marshall at home on Jan. 21, and the Golden Eagles will have a full week for prepare for what shapes up as an important game.
- Southern Mississippi was 16-3 going into its pivotal Conference USA game against Marshall on Jan. 21. The Golden Eagles seem on their way to surpassing last season's 22-10 record, and junior G LaShay Page says this edition of the team is better than last year's.
"Last year's team was great, I'm not taking anything away from them," Page said, "but this team is more focused on defense. We feel we have to get stops to win the game. We're not going to rely on the offensive end to win games because everybody knows that defense wins games as well as championships. We want to be a champion team. We have to play defense and get stops when we need them."
Southern Miss was allowing 59.1 points a game this season through Jan. 15 after giving up 75.2 in 2010-11.
- Southern Miss snapped a three-game home losing streak to Alabama-Birmingham with a 59-55 victory Jan. 14. The Golden Eagles outscored the Blazers 12-2 at the end to pull out the win.
"You're thinking, 'Here is the UAB jinx,'" Eustachy said, "but you have to give our guys credit for coming back."
By The Numbers: 9-0 Southern Miss' home record at Reed Green Coliseum this season through Jan. 15. The Golden Eagles were 5-2 on the road and 2-1 on neutral courts.
Quote To Note: "Now let me tell you this - Southern Miss is a good team. I think everyone agrees they are a good team." - Memphis coach Josh Pastner.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week's Game:
vs. Marshall, Jan. 21
Key Matchups: Marshall sophomore G DeAndre Kane has been one of the top players in Conference USA this season, averaging 15.9 points. 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals a game through Jan. 15. Senior G Damier Pitts was averaging 13.4 points and 4.8 assists.
Futures Market: Sophomore G Neil Watson had recorded at least four assists 11 times this season through Jan. 15, and Southern Miss had gone 11-0 in those games. The Golden Eagles were 5-3 in their other eight games.
- Sophomore G Cedric Jenkins wore the goat horns as Southern Miss' 11-game winning streak came to an end with a 60-58 defeat at Memphis on Jan. 11, even though his 20 minutes were a season high.
Right after junior F Jonathan Mills made two free throws to draw Southern Miss into a 58-58 tie, Jenkins fouled Memphis' Chris Crawford in the backcourt with 31.7 left, and Crawford made two free throws to put the Tigers ahead. Jenkins then missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have won the game for Southern Miss, which is 0-17 against Memphis in coach Larry Eustachy's eight-year tenure.
Jenkins thought he heard Eustachy yelling "foul, foul" when the coach was instead yelling "no foul, no foul."
- Senior G Darnell Dodson, a transfer from Kentucky, had seen his minutes get cut significantly at the start of Conference USA play. However, he regained a prominent spot in Southern Miss' rotation during a 59-55 win over Alabama-Birmingham on Jan. 14 and scored a team-high 15 points in 21 minutes. Eustachy said Dodson earned more playing time because he started playing better defense.
- Junior G LaShay Page is quietly becoming Southern Miss' leader. Through Jan. 15, he topped the team in minutes played (an average of 35.8 a game) and in scoring (13.3 points per game).