HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball team will close out its four-game homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 24, when it hosts 25th-ranked UTEP. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT from Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss and UTEP will meet for the 15th time, and the second time this year, with the Miners holding a 10-4 advantage. UTEP has won the last three games and four of the last five meetings. In Hattiesburg, Southern Miss owns a 3-2 record. Earlier this year, UTEP defeated the Golden Eagles, 56-49, in El Paso. This is the third time the Golden Eagles will face a ranked Miners squad, with UTEP winning both previous meetings in 1967.
Southern Miss enters Wednesday night's game with a 16-10 record and 6-6 in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles have won six of their last eight games after coming back from 16 points to defeat UCF, 68-58, on Saturday at Reed Green Coliseum.
Sophomore Angelo Johnson led Southern Miss with a career-high 24 points, including four three-pointers, also a career-high. Junior Gary Flowers finished, despite starting the game 1-of-9, finished with 18 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Junior Josimar Ayarza added 10 points and junior Sai'Quon Stone chipped in with seven points and a career-high seven assists.
Flowers is in tenth-place in Conference USA with 14.8 points. He is also tenth in field goal percentage, connecting on 47.6-percent of his shots, seventh in rebounding with 7.8 boards per game and fourth in blocks (1.9).
Johnson is second on the team with 10.0 points per game. He also leads the league in free throw percentage, connecting on 82.1 percent of his shots from the charity stripe. Sophomore guard Maurice Bolden is scoring 9.5 points, while junior guard R.L. Horton is also contributing 8.2 points.
As a team, Southern Miss is scoring 65.2 points per game, while allowing 59.5, tops in the conference. The Golden Eagles are third in the conference in rebounding, pulling down 37.0 boards per game while giving up just 30.5 to the opposition, which is second in the conference. The Black and Gold are connecting on 42.7-percent of their shots, while their opponents are hitting just 40.3-percent. Southern Miss also leads the league in three-point percentage defense, as opponents are hitting just 29.2-percent from beyond the arc.
Head coach Larry Eustachy is in his sixth season at the helm of the Southern Miss men's basketball program. He has compiled a 91-90 (.503) record during his time as head coach. In 18 years, Eustachy has an overall record of 351-235 (.599).
UTEP enters Wednesday night's contest with a ranked 25th in the country. They are 20-5, and 11-1 in conference. The Miners have won their last 10 games after defeating Tulsa, 78-70.
UTEP was led by junior guard Randy Culpepper with 29 points. Junior forward Derrick Caracter scored 16 points and sophomore forward Arnett Moultrie had 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Junior guard Julyan Stone added 10 points.
The Miners have five players scoring double-figures. Culpepper is third in Conference USA with 18.0 points. Caracter is second on the team with 14.3 points, while grabbing 8.8 rebounds, which is third in the league. Junior forward Jeremy Williams and junior guard Christian Polk are tied for third on the team with 10.7 points, while Moultrie is scoring 10.6 points and is second on the team with 6.9 boards.
As a team, the Miners are averaging 77.3 points per game, third most in the conference, while allowing just 64.5. UTEP is grabbing 36.6 rebounds per game, while giving up 35.2. UTEP is connecting on 47.9-percent of its shots, which is second in C-USA, while allowing the opposition to score just 38.9-percent of the time, also second in the league.
Head coach Tony Barbee is in his fourth season leading the UTEP men's basketball program. He currently holds a 76-50 (.603) record.