Southern Miss, Tulane ready to play

NCAA Basketball

Southern Mississippi and Tulane both won their last games.

But it’s questionable whether either will carry any momentum into their matchup Wednesday in New Orleans because neither has played in several days.

The Golden Eagles (1-1), who have had three games canceled due to COVID issues, last played Dec. 2 when they defeated William Carey 80-53.

The Green Wave (2-0) last played Nov. 29 when they defeated Lipscomb 68-66 in the final game of the Tulane Classic.

The senior-less Green Wave have leaned on their defense in winning their first two games. Tulane has held Lamar and Lipscomb to a combined 38.8 percent shooting on field goals, including 25.7 percent on 3-pointers.

Second-year coach Ron Hunter said he is utilizing a more complete defensive system than he did in his first season.

“Last year, it was hard to put my whole system in,” Hunter said. “We probably had about 45 percent of the system. This year with the presses and the traps, we’ve got everything in. We can do a lot more things.”

The Green Wave seemed in control of their last game before Lipscomb used a 12-0 run to tie the score with less than four minutes remaining.

The Green Wave’s two-point lead held up when Lipscomb missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left and R.J. McGee blocked a follow-up as time expired.

“I am really proud of them because defensively I have really liked coaching this group,” Hunter said. “Offensively, it is going to take us some time. Our defense is going to keep us in games.”

USM coach Jay Ladner, like Hunter, is in his second season. The Eagles feature nine newcomers and two other players who redshirted last season.

The unfamiliarity showed in a season-opening 66-51 loss to Jacksonville before USM bounced back against the crosstown rival Crusaders in its home opener.

“I thought we were improved from the Jacksonville game,” Ladner said. “I thought we were just better, particularly in our intensity. We were able to play some new guys significant minutes, and they gave a good account of themselves.”

USM had a 35-8 advantage in points off turnovers and a 48-18 advantage in points in the paint.

Tyler Stevenson tied his career-high with 27 points, making 11 of 13 shots. Three other Eagles scored in double figures.

–Field Level Media

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