With the departure of Donnie Tyndall, the 2014-2015 basketball season has been highly anticipated to see what kind of team Southern Miss now has.
But it was impossible to get a good look at how the team will be after the 77-68 victory over Mississippi College because three projected starters Matt Bingaya, Chip Armelin and Jeremiah Eason did not play Thursday night.
When head coach Doc Sadler was asked if he did not play the starters to rest them for the regular season, he responded “No, that is not
With the starters sitting out, Norville Carey, Davon Hayes and Kevin Holland picked up the slack, combining for 44 of the Golden Eagles’ 77 points. Hayes led all scorers with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists. Carey finished with 14 points, five rebounds and three blocks while Holland finished with five assists and 11 points, shooting a perfect 100 percent from the floor and at the free throw line.
USM started off slow, falling behind 7-0. Following a timeout, Hayes gave USM the spark they needed. He used screens to get open from behind the arc and knocked down two consecutive threes.
After the threes, Hayes utilized his pump fake to get to the basket twice, capping off a 10-0 run all by himself and giving the Golden Eagles a 12-7 lead. After a USM foul, Mississippi College was able to get within two points of the Golden Eagles, until freshman Keljin Blevins hit a three, giving Southern Miss a five-point advantage.
Both teams traded baskets until a three-point play by Blevins and a jump shot by Kevin Holland made it a 20-12 game, USM’s largest lead of the first half. MC would use a run of their own to cut Southern Miss’ lead
down to 25-22.
On USM’s next possession, Hayes used a pick to get to the rack where he was fouled and went 2-2 at the charity stripe then followed up by knocking down a three pointer on USM’s next possession, giving Southern Miss a seven-point lead with 3:43 left in the first half. MC and USM both went on 5-0 runs that sent Southern Miss into the half with
a 37-33 lead.
MC and Southern Miss traded baskets for the majority of the second half. With 6:53 left in the game, the score was tied at 56 apiece. Baskets from Holland, who hit a three, Rasham Suarez, who drove into the paint and converted an and-one play, and Eddie Davis’ three-point shot he banked off the back board, gave the Golden Eagles a 65-58 lead.
Most thought USM would maintain this lead and cruise to a victory in their opening exhibition game, but Mississippi College did not give up and found themselves up by one point with 3:28 left in the game. Stacy Mack hit an open shot, then his teammates Jay Case and Jaron Edwards made a pair of threes to give MC their one point lead. At this moment, Reed-Green Coliseum was shocked and could not believe MC got themselves back into the game.
After Holland went 2-2 at the charity stripe, USM regained the lead and never relinquished it, going on a 12-2 run for their 17th straight exhibition victory. Carey capped off the game with a monstrous two-handed jam in the open court.
The Golden Eagles shot 51.1-percent (24-of-47) from the floor, including 7-of-18 (38.8%) from three. They also connected on 22-of-26 (84.6%) free throw attempts. Southern Miss opens the 2014-15 regular season Friday, Nov. 14, when crosstown foe William Carey visits Reed-Green Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.