The Golden Eagles won their first back-to-back games since mid-November of this season with their 73-65 victory over Texas-El Paso. The last time that UTEP beat Southern Miss at Reed Green Coliseum was in 2011.
“I think we’re getting better,” said Head Coach Doc Sadler. “Overall, to get a home win against UTEP, how can you not feel any better.”
Southern Miss was able to come into this game with confidence after their 77-59 win over Texas-San Antonio on Thursday. Sadler mentioned the return of senior guard Khari Price would open up the offense on Thursday, as the Golden Eagles recorded their second-most points at halftime all season.
Price will get most of the credit of the resurgence of the Golden Eagle offense, but he only scored one point combined with two rebounds and four assists in the contest against UTEP. But, the offense he orchestrated in his 34 minutes only yielded 11 turnovers for the game.
“He just makes everyone comfortable and we just played off him,” said guard Quinton Campbell. “You need that leadership on the floor.”
UTEP shot an efficient 43 percent from the field, but 16 turnovers and shooting 5-of-23 from the three-point line kept the Miners from cutting into any deficit they had accumulated.
UTEP attempted to bring the game closer by making 4-of-5 shots midway through the second half, but the emergence of forward Eddie Davis III scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds in just eight minutes of play off the bench, kept the Miners at bay.
“They just stay ready, no matter what happens,” said guard Cortez Edwards in regards to the bench. “They honestly don’t know who’s going to play. They just stay ready and produce.”
All together, the bench produced 21 points, led by guard Bilal Abdur-Rahim with eight points and four rebounds.
The UTEP Miners had several players above 6’8 on the roster, putting USM at a decisive size advantage. But, Edwards had confidence to go and battle the taller players in the restricted area, scoring most of his 17 points and adding three rebounds.
“You just got to jump and hope for the best, most of the time,” Edwards said. “The best usually works for me. I’m confident because I’ve put a lot of work in the weight room.”
When asked how his team will handle the winning streak, Campbell attributed the win to his coach’s teachings on and off the court.
“[Sadler] just brings the same attitude every day,” Campbell said. “Win or lose, he’s going to be the same coach. When you see that in a coach who can easily give up on you… it just makes your players want to work even harder.”
Southern Miss will travel to Old Dominion for their next C-USA action on Jan. 12. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.