Eagles score another win at UCF
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2012 23:01
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles continued their winning season Saturday night with a 78-65 win against the Central Florida Golden Knights at UCF Arena in Orlando, Fla. Southern Miss (19-3, 6-1) proved to be the dominate team over the Golden Knights (15-6, 5-3), avoiding untimely turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds in the second half to put the game away.
USM did not dominate the game from the start, however. It took the Golden Eagles nearly the entire first half to respond to the Golden Knights fast offensive start, but once they caught up, there was no looking back. Down 31-19 nearing halftime, Southern Miss closed the first half on an 11-0 scoring run, and that gave the Eagles confidence coming out of locker room to start the second half.
Southern Miss head basketball coach Larry Eustachy used a familiar spark in the first half to get his offense firing - his bench players. Southern Miss's bench play proved to be a great advantage over UCF. USM bench players accounted for 51 of the 78 points the team scored, while UCF's bench accounted for only 10 of their 65 team points.
The defensive effort was picked up in the second half, and the players knew it would be the difference coming into the game.
"We knew offense wasn't going to win this game," Golden Eagles guard Neil Watson said after the game.
Southern Miss held the Central Florida offense to just 40 percent shooting, while the Knights turned the ball over 15 times. The Golden Eagles also kept the Knights offensive weapon Marcus Jordan, son of NBA legend Michael Jordan, on the bench most of the second half in foul trouble.
Coach Eustachy was impressed with the way his team responded in the second half.
"We've got a lot of wins, but I still felt we had yet to have a true identity and I was really on the team about that at halftime," Eustachy said. "We needed to come out and establish who we are, and we did. We went out there, controlled the boards, defended great, let the offense come to us. It was just a great step in the right direction as far as who we're trying to be."
Southern Miss was paced by bench players Watson and Darnell Dodson. Watson scored 23 points and accumulated six assists, both team highs for Southern Miss. Dodson, who has been a true force for opponents to deal with since becoming eligible in mid-December, accounted for 22 points and eight rebounds. Guard Angelo Johnson recorded nine points, forward Maurice Bolden recorded eight points, and forward Jonathan Mills added seven points for the Eagles.
With the win, Southern Miss snapped a 16-game home winning streak by the Golden Knights.
Southern Miss comes back home to play Memphis on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. It will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.