The ninth-ranked Louisville Cardinals (6-1) handed the Golden Eagles their first loss of the season Friday night in a 69-38 rout.
A strong defensive performance by the Cardinals held USM to 13-of-45 on field goals – a mere 28.9 percent from the field. The Eagles were also unable to shoot well from behind the arc, making two of 11 three-point shots.
The Cardinals are known for their stingy defense which led them to a NCAA championship last season. Their zone scheme is designed to keep opposing offenses from scoring in the paint and force them to take contested 3-pointers.
“They just took it to us,” said USM head coach Donnie Tyndall. “Obviously, they are a great team. We just need to go back and keep working on getting better.”
Louisville started the rout early with a 13-0 lead and kept the Eagles from scoring within the first six minutes of the game. Senior guard Jerrold Brooks finally put the Eagles on the board with a three-point shot and two free throws, cutting Louisville’s lead to 13-5.
Daveon Boardingham, Terry Rozier and Michael Craig would then tack on another seven points to make it a 19-10 Louisville lead with nearly nine minutes left in the first half. But the Cardinals’ defense kicked in and refused to let the Eagles score for the next eight minutes.
Neil Watson ended a 14-1 run by Louisville with a layup, but could do nothing about Southern Miss trailing 34-13 at the end of the first half. By halftime, Southern Miss was just 4-17 from the field.
The Golden Eagles’ offense was just as limited to begin the second half, as Louisville held them scoreless for the next seven minutes. The Cardinals scored 11 unanswered points to make it 45-13 and allowed only 26 USM points for the rest of the half.
Southern Miss finished the game with a 69-38 loss.
The Louisville defense ensured that the Eagles could not score for a combined 20 minutes of the game. This ability is predicated upon forcing turnovers, especially by being active in passing lanes. The Cardinals forced 22 USM turnovers for the game.
Their offense was 23-of-55 from the floor and 12-of-31 from the three-point line. The Cardinals also out-rebounded the Eagles 38-33; it was the first time this season that Southern Miss was outrebounded.
Michael Craig led Southern Miss with nine points. Brooks followed with seven points and Watson with four. Aaron Brown had seven rebounds in the game.
Southern Miss will play Morehead State (6-3) Wednesday, Dec. 4, beginning a three-game home stand. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m.