HATTIESBURG, MISS. – Quinton Campbell, Kourtlin Jackson and Khari Price combined for 31 second-half points as Southern Miss erased a big deficit in Hattiesburg once again and beat UTEP, 71-58, on Thursday at Reed Green Coliseum.
This time the Golden Eagles (6-12, 3-4 C-USA) rallied from 15 down in the first half. The Miners (11-10, 3-5 C-USA) led 30-26 at the half, but scored 16 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. They were outscored 29-16 during that period.
The Miners made four three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the first half, bolting to leads of 8-0 and 22-7. Southern Miss hunkered down on defense and held UTEP to eight points over the final 9:11.
“We had a lead,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “The lead probably could’ve been bigger than it was. We weren’t very efficient on the interior in terms of finishing, other than Tevin Caldwell. We missed a lot of point-blank shots that we got at the rim. I thought we let that affect us a little bit.”
The Golden Eagles went on an 11-0 run after UTEP went ahead 36-31 early in the second half. They made three three-pointers during that spurt, one each from Raheem Watts, Michael Ramey and Campbell.
UTEP was able to regain the lead, 43-42, with five straight points from Lee Moore who scored a game-high 18. But Southern Miss countered with six in a row, all from Jackson, to surge ahead 48-43. After the Miners cut it to 3 (48-45) on two free throws by Trey Touchet, the Golden Eagles put together a 10-1 run, leaving UTEP down by 12 (58-46) with 3:45 to play.
The Miners cut it to five twice in the last 1:04 but Southern Miss iced it with free throws. The Golden Eagles were 23-for-29 at the stripe, 16-for-19 in the second half.
UTEP was 10-for-15 from the line. The free throw discrepancy was important on a night where UTEP shot 40 percent to Southern Miss’ 33 and matched the Golden Eagles on the boards (36-36).
“We rebounded with them. We made more field goals than our opponent,” Floyd said. “There were a lot of block charge situations that didn’t go our way tonight.”
Earvin Morris joined Moore in double figures with 13 points. He scored 10 of the Miners’ 28 in the second half.
Jackson scored 15 points, Campbell 13, Robert Thomas 12 and Price 10 for Southern Miss, which has won five straight over the Miners in Hattiesburg while overcoming big deficits each time.
“We lost the lead when Lee Moore and Omega Harris were out of the game in the first half with their foul situations,” Floyd said. “We’re really struggling to score right now when those two guys aren’t making goals. We’ll have to go back, regroup, and see if we can find some fight in us to go play a very good Louisiana Tech team.”
The Miners will head to Ruston to take on the Bulldogs Sunday at 2 p.m. MT. The game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports Networks.