The Southern Miss Golden Eagles will try to rebound from a lopsided loss when they take on the Rice Owls in a Conference USA matchup tonight at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston.
The Golden Eagles are a solid 12-3 overall, but they are coming off a 95-65 loss in their conference road opener at Marshall last Saturday night. Prior to that setback, Southern Miss had won three straight and seven of its previous eight. Following tonight's tilt, the Golden Eagles will return home for two in a row, where they are 7-0 so far this season.
Rice has opened its C-USA slate with back-to-back losses to Tulane (85-81) and Tulsa (75-64). The Owls are an even .500 on the season, and seven of their eight wins have come at Tudor Fieldhouse. They'll hit the road for their next two games after tonight.
The all-time series between these two schools is tied at 4-4, although Southern Miss has won three of the last four meetings, including a 66-50 triumph on its home floor last year.
The Golden Eagles' first conference road game could not have gone much worse than it did on Saturday night in Huntington, West Virginia, as they trailed by 12 at the half and never led throughout the game. They shot just 34.8 percent from the field and went 1-of-16 from three-point range. On a positive note, senior forward Gary Flowers scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds in defeat, marking his third straight 20-point game. He is currently second in C- USA with 21.2 ppg and leads the league in three-point field goal percentage (.475). Flowers is also third in blocks (1.9 bpg), sixth in field goal percentage (.521) and seventh in rebounding (7.7 rpg). Senior guard R.L. Horton scored 11 points against Marshall, just shy of his season average of 12.1 ppg. As a team, the Eagles are second in the league in scoring (78.0 ppg) and are out-pointing foes by an average of 13.6 points. Opponents are shooting just 38.6 percent from the floor against Southern Miss, which is the second- best mark in the league. The team is also leading the conference with 41.1 rpg (+8.4).
Rice relies heavily on sophomore forward Arsalan Kazemi, C-USA's only player averaging a double-double. His 17.9 ppg ranks fourth in the league, while his 11.5 rpg has him ranked first. Kazemi also leads the conference in field goal percentage (.634). Against Tulsa, he recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Senior forward Suleiman Braimoh scored 12 points, and second-leading scorer Tamir Jackson (13.1 ppg) was held to eight. As a team, the Owls shot just 37.7 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers, which yielded 23 points for the Golden Hurricane. Rice never led in the game and trailed by as many as 21 midway through the second half. From behind the arc, the team is hitting just 30 percent of its shots, but opponents are shooting a very efficient 39.6 percent. The Owls also lead the league in rebounding defense and hold a +5.2 margin on the boards.
This game pits two of the top rebounding teams in C-USA against each another. Flowers and Kazemi are the headliners on their respective teams, but the Golden Eagles simply have the better all-around squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 71, Rice 62