Southern Miss (8-4) at Morehead State (5-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 28, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ellis Johnson Arena (6,500) -- Morehead, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: USM 3-0, MSU 4-1. Away Record: USM 3-3, MSU 0-6. Neutral Record: USM 2-1, MSU 1-0. Conference Record: USM 0-0, MSU 0-0. Series Record: Morehead State leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The Morehead State Eagles begin a season-long, four-game homestand on Friday night when they play host to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Ellis Johnson Arena.
Southern Miss began the 2012-13 season on a positive note, winning each of its first six games, which included three straight in the Legends Classic in Huntsville, Texas in mid-November. Since then however, the Golden Eagles have dropped four of six to fall to 8-4 on the year, most recently losing at Wichita State last Saturday, 59-51.
Morehead State has also been reeling of late, suffering defeats in five of its last six outings, culminating in a 69-49 blowout loss at North Dakota State on Dec. 21. Despite the poor start, the Eagles have played well at home, winning four of five at Ellis Johnson Arena.
Morehead State leads the all-time series with Southern Miss, 5-2, which includes a 3-0 mark in games played at home.
While USM's scoring output has been modest at best (66.0 ppg), it has shot a solid 45.6 percent from the field, but it is coming off its worst performance of the season in the loss to Wichita State. The Golden Eagles made just 36 percent of their field goal attempts, committed 16 turnovers, and lost the rebounding battle, 44-26. Jerrold Brooks put together an impressive game in the setback, shooting 7-of-11 from the field (4-of-6 from 3-point range) for 18 points. Dwayne Davis (13 points) and Neil Watson (12 points) also had decent showings, but no other Southern Miss player scored more than three points. Davis (13.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Michael Craig (10.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), and Johnathan Mills (9.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) have not only been the team's best scorers but also very efficient, as each make greater than 51 percent of his field goal attempts. Brooks (9.2 ppg) hasn't been as fortunate with his shot, as he connects on only 34.3 percent.
Morehead State actually scores more points per game (69.2 ppg) than does Southern Miss, but it shoots a much lower percentage from the floor (.416). Not much went right for the Eagles in their 20-point loss at North Dakota State, as it shot just 16-of-46 from the floor (.348), including a dismal 1- of-13 from 3-point range. Chad Posthumus was solid in the low post in the defeat, tallying 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while Angelo Warner added 10 points. They weren't helped in the loss by the fact that their top scorer Milton Chavis (13.2 ppg) didn't play, as he is the only player to average double digits on a nightly basis. Warner is the next-best scorer at 9.3 ppg, draining more than 90 percent of his free throw attempts. Even with its scoring deficiencies, Morehead State has been able to win games by sporting positive rebounding (plus-1.9) and turnover (plus-2.3) differentials.
Morehead State has been far from a model of consistency this year, but it always gets up to play in front of its fans, and considering Southern Miss's erratic play of late, the hometown Eagles have a great opportunity to get back on track in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Morehead State 69, Southern Miss 66
12/28 10:32:21 ET