Southern Miss (19-3, 6-1) is starting to make people question why they are not ranked after executing a balanced attack led by Michael Craig’s 12 points and 11 rebounds while shutting down Tulane (11-11, 3-4). USM ran away with the game in the second half while shooting 63 percent in the second half en route to a 78-47 win over Tulane Saturday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
Chip Armelin and Daveon Boardingham scored 11 points each as the Golden Eagles shot 48 percent from the field for the game, but only made 3-of-13 3-point attempts.
Tulane’s Jay Hook hit the first basket of the game with a three-pointer. Aaron Brown followed by hitting two free throws and Jerrold Brooks scored nine straight points. Chip Armelin then found Daveon Boardingham for a dunk to finish off a 13-0 run and give Southern Miss a 13-3 lead through the first six minutes.
Hook added another three to cut the deficit to seven, but Boardingham was fouled making the basket and the free throw on the ensuing possession to keep the lead at 10.
Tulane followed with five of the next seven points, but a free throw from Boardingham and a jumper from Michael Craig made it 23-14 with 6:43 to play in the half.
Jonathan Stark then drilled a three to cut the deficit to six, but then the game slowed downed as the refs called three straight fouls in four seconds. The Golden Eagles capitalized, scoring six straight points from the charity stripe, to take a 29-17 lead.
Southern Miss led 35-23 at the break, and their total dominance inside, coupled with Tulane’s poor shooting effort, left the second half void of any competitive action.
Chip Armelin opened the second half scorching with a steal leading to a powerful dunk followed by a three, then another breakaway dunk. USM’s next two offensive possessions would end in three points the hard way, two and-one plays. This was part of a 14-3 run over the first six minutes to push the lead to 49-26 to open the half.
Tulane cut the deficit to 19 points, but that would be the closest Tulane would get to the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss led 56-30 midway through the second half, en route to the 31-point win.
Tulane put up only 34 field goal attempts, hitting just 38 percent and were crushed in the paint as they lost the rebounding battle 40-19. Southern Miss held a 15-2 advantage on the offensive glass. For the fourth time this year, USM outrebounded their opponent by at least 20. Southern Miss forced 15 Tulane turnovers while giving up only eight themselves.
“We knew that (Tulane) had a plan against our zone. But, to our credit, we did a great job guarding them,” said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. “Every dribble they took was earned. For us to outrebound them by 21 and only allow two offensive rebounds, which is a credit to our grit and toughness. Overall, it was a pretty solid performance, and we got a lot of contributions from a lot of different guys as well.”
Michael Craig led Southern Miss with 12 points and 11 rebounds. It was his seventh double-double of the year and eighth of his career. Chip Armelin had 11 points and six rebounds while Daveon Boardingham added 11 points and five boards.
After scoring his 1,000th career point in his previous game and being named C-USA player of the week, Neil Watson put up 10 points and three assists. He also extended his consecutive free throw mark to 50.
Matt Bingaya had two monstrous tip-in dunks that ended up on Sports Center. He joined Craig and Boardingham who have both had top ten plays on the show this year.
Southern Miss shot 48 percent (25-of-52) from the field compared to Tulane hitting the bottom of the net just 13-of-34 times (38.2 percent) and 8-of-20 (40.0 percent) from behind the arc. USM outscored Tulane 42-6 in the paint.
Southern Miss plays a nationally-televised game next Friday, Feb. 7, when it hosts Marshall. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.