Eagles Marked By Toughness, Determination

Southern Miss is off and running so far in conference play. This team with so many question marks coming in has come together quickly and is feeding off the energy of this coaching staff. The result has been a gritty, determined team that is winning with good ole fashioned hard work.

The Eagles have not played very nice in hosting teams on their home court. The win over Houston marked the 21st win in a row at Reed Green, and they also set a school record with 9 home conference wins in a row.

The win also was the 5th in a row overall for the streaking Golden Eagle basketball program that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode this season. Someone forgot to tell Coach Tyndall and his players that.

Despite having the least inexperienced roster in college basketball, the new Coach has his team buying into the team concept and demonstrating they can overcome whatever deficiencies they may have had to start the season.

They are doing it by in large with stingy defense, opportunistic offense, and simply outhustling their opponents.

Consider a few stats:

Southern Miss has outscored its opponents during the current five game win streak by a margin of 466-264.

They have 203 steals on the season, and the match-up zone has really given opponents fits. Ask Houston about it.

In the ultimate hustle catagory, USM has outrebounded its opponents 603-483, despite not having a regular over 6'7. Rebounding is about effort, and desire, and Southern Miss is winning games with both.

Leading the way in the rebounding catagory is senior Forward Jonathan Mills. Despite being only 6'5, Mills simply wills his way in the paint. He leads the team with 115 rebounds, and right behind him is 6'5 Michael Craig with 99.

Southern Miss only has three players who average double digit scoring, led by Dwayne Davis at 12.7 per game.

The good news is, everyone is contributing. All the regulars from Cedric Jenkins (5.2 ppg), to Jerrold Brooks (10.3 ppg), are doing their part to help the engine run.

Floor general and assist man Neil Watson is excelling in his role of distributing the basketball. He leads the team with 81 assists, and no one else is even close. In fact, the next highest is Michael Craig with 43.

Combine this together with a very high free throw percentage (.717), and you have what has proven to be a winning formula.

Some tough tests are upcoming this week as the Eagles travel to SMU coached by NBA legend Larry Brown, and then return home next Saturday where they'll put the home streak on the line again against UAB.

If the Eagles can take care of business this week and jump out to 4-0 in conference, anything is possible. Coach Tyndall has this group believing, and you won't find a harder working group out there.

Stay tuned, its going to be a fun ride the rest of the way.

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