UC Irvine (3-1) vs. Southern Miss (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bernard Johnson Coliseum (6,110) -- Huntsville, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UC Irvine 2-0, Southern Miss 1-0. Away Record: UC Irvine 0-1, Southern Miss 2-0. Neutral Record: UC Irvine 0-0, Southern Miss 0-0. Conference Record: UC Irvine 0-0, Southern Miss 0-0. Series Record: Southern Miss leads 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In an intriguing matchup in the Legends Classic a pair of three- win squads will hook up when the UC Irvine Anteaters face the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Bernard Johnson Coliseum.
The Anteaters ride into this game on the back of two consecutive wins with the most recent one a 64-46 triumph over Liberty. UC Irvine has really looked impressive early on with its only loss coming in an 80-79 defeat on the road to nationally-ranked UCLA. UC Irvine will finish up its slate in the Legends Classic against host Sam Houston State on Wednesday.
On the other side, Southern Miss has yet to taste defeat this season with wins in each of its first three games. The first two wins required some clutch play from the Golden Eagles with close victories over Western Kentucky (67-64) and Georgia (62-60 OT). The Golden Eagles had a much easier time in its opening game in this regional action as it blew past Sam Houston State, 61-49. Southern Miss takes on Liberty on Wednesday to wrap up its Legends Classic docket.
Southern Miss won the only other game between these schools.
In its win over Liberty, UC Irvine relied on its defense to carry what was a rather pedestrian offensive showing. The Anteaters shot just 43.4 percent from the floor overall including a 4-of-17 effort from the 3-point line. However the Anteaters only allowed Liberty to collected 17 total field goals in the contest while forcing 20 turnovers. There were 10 different players that got in the scoring column for UC Irvine led by Daman Starring who finished with 12 points.
Starring has been the lead option on the season for the Anteaters, scoring a healthy 15.3 points per game while also managing to clean up on the glass (6.7 rpg). Starring is not a particularly strong shooter from beyond the arc (3- of-12) but finishes well closer to the rim. Michael Wilder joins Starrring in double figures (12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg). The 6-foot-2 guard is a lethal shooter from beyond the arc where he has nailed 12-of-25 attempts this season. Will Davis (9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Alex Young (9.0 ppg) are also capable scorers with White also a force on defense with 11 blocks this season. Controlling the boards has been a major strength for UC Irvine with the team pulling down 51.5 rebounds per contest, the second-best mark nationally on the young season.
Behind a 27-point eruption fro Dwayne Davis and a 50.0 percent shooting night, Southern Miss was easily able to bring down Sam Houston State on Monday night. The Golden Eagles were also effective on the defensive end holding the Bearkats to only 11 total field goals in the contest, including just five over the final 20 minutes.
Through three games, Davis has been the focal point of the Southern Miss offense. The senior guard is one of just two players on the team scoring in double figures (17.3 ppg), while also turning in solid efforts on the glass (5.3 rpg). Davis has not just been a prolific scorer but an efficient one as well, as he has connected on 44.7 percent of his shots, including 5-of-13 from beyond the arc. Jerrold Brooks (10.7 ppg) is the second scoring option behind Davis on a roster that doesn't have a long list of offensive options. With just two double-digit scorers, the Golden Eagles are averaging only 63.3 points per game, but thanks to solid defense have still had a solid +5.6 scoring differential.
With a more balanced attack and its ability to control the boards, UC Irvine has been able to begin this season on the right foot. If the Anteaters can slow down Davis, there's no reason to think that good start won't continue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 74, Southern Miss 66
11/20 10:38:14 ET