HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss men's basketball team opened exhibition play with a 77-65 victory over Slippery Rock, Tuesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
"In my opinion, Kevin Reynolds is the best head coach in Division II and possibly all of basketball," said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. "I have been friends with him for 20 years, and he has taken that program and really turned it around, taking them to the NCAA Tournament last year."
Michael Craig led all players with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Chip Armelin scored 11 points and Aaron Brown added 10. Daveon Boardingham led all players with five rebounds.
Southern Miss jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead. After Josh Martin and Armelin traded three-pointers, SRU scored five straight points to tie the game at 10. Armelin hit a lay-up to give Southern Miss the lead, but Slippery Rock connected on three straight threes to take a 19-14 lead. But the Golden Eagles went on a 15-3 run to take a 29-22 lead with 3:09 to play in the first half.
Slippery Rock twice pulled within four points, but a jumper by Deonte Houston with six seconds left sent Southern Miss into halftime with a 35-29 lead.
The second half began with the teams trading threes. With the Golden Eagles ahead 38-32, Craig scored eight straight points as Southern Miss pushed its lead to 48-34. Southern Miss kept the score around 10 points for most of the second half, before taking its biggest lead, 73-54. However, Slippery Rock scored nine straight to cut the deficit to 10 with 1:57 to play. But that's as close as it would get.
Tyndall added, "We certainly need to do some things better, in particular, taking care of the basketball. We had too many turnovers, and we have to play without fouling. We've got to play without putting the opponent on the line."
Matej Delinac led Slippery Rock with 16 points and Maurice Lewis-Briggs added 14.
Southern Miss was 23-of-46 (50.0%) from the floor while holding SRU to just 38.3-percent (18-of-47) shooting. The Black and Gold was just 2-of-7 (28.6%) from three, but connected on 74.4-percent (29-of-39) from the free throw line.