Despite a 31-19 halftime lead for Southern Miss over Kansas State, the Wildcats outscored the Golden Eagles 36-20 in the second half to come away with a 55-51 win on Wednesday. With the loss, Southern Miss drops to 7-4 on the season.
“I thought the first half we did everything but you have to give them credit for the second half,” Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler said. “[Kamau] Stokes got hot and hit four threes on us and that was the difference in the ball game. You hold a team to 55 points and you have to win.”
After going down 7-0 early to the Wildcats in the first five minutes of play, Southern Miss battled back with 14 straight points to take the lead. The Golden Eagles eventually entered halftime with a 12-point lead, a lead that was capped off with a layup at the rim by freshman Gabe Watson at the buzzer.
Kansas State shot just 31 percent from the field in the half, including a 0-for-9 mark from the three-point line. Senior Cortez Edwards added 10 first-half points for Southern Miss offensively, followed by redshirt senior Tyree Griffin with nine points.
However, Kansas State came out in the second half and chipped away at the Southern Miss lead. A 19-2 run allowed the Wildcats to take a 38-37 lead with 9:31 left to play in the game. The Golden Eagles eventually cut the Kansas State lead to two following two free throws from Magee with 11 seconds left, but a subsequent foul allowed Kansas State to add two more points and come away with the win.
Southern Miss hit on just 8-of-35 shots in the half, while Kansas State converted 12-of-18 shots. The Wildcats also took advantage of 19 second-half defensive rebounds, compared to just seven for Southern Miss.
Edwards added eight points in the second half to end up as the leading scorer for Southern Miss with 18 points. The only other player to record double-digits in scoring was Griffin with 11 points. Redshirt senior Dominic Magee recorded a team-high eight rebounds for the Golden Eagles.
The loss is the second straight loss by a margin of five points or less for Southern Miss. The team lost 63-60 to Wichita State on Dec. 15
Southern Miss will travel to Vermillion, South Dakota for its last non-conference game of the season against the University of South Dakota on Dec. 21. Conference play for the Golden Eagles begins on Dec. 29 with a road contest against Louisiana Tech.