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January 5, 2009Nine months ago, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane were snipping down the nets after defeating Bradley 70-64, and claiming the inaugural Collegiate Basketball Invitational Championship. With the win Tulsa became one of only three post season tournament teams to finish the 2007-08 season with a win. The first CBI field included tradition rich programs such as Cincinnati, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Valparaiso. No it was not an NCAA or even NIT Championship, but it was something to be proud of and gave the Hurricane something to build on for the 2008-09 season.
So far this year the Hurricane (9-5) is off to a solid start with impressive wins over Texas A&M, Oral Roberts and Missouri State. They're battle tested having played the likes of Big 12 powers Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as well as a once beaten BYU squad. The loss to BYU snapped a 28-game non-conference home count winning streak.
The Eagles (9-4) have experienced highs and lows of their own. They're currently on a five game winning streak that includes a win over in-state rival Mississippi.
A season ago Southern Miss fell 78-63 to Tulsa at the Reynolds Center, before an announced attendance of 5,323.
Tulsa returns a core from the CBI Championship squad including leading scorer Ben Uzoh (15.6 ppg) and potential lottery pick center Jerome Jordan (11.9 ppg). The talented duo have a solid supporing cast in forward Ray Reese (9.4 ppg) and Glenn Andrews (8.7 ppg). The Tulsa squad is also deep with nine players seeing at least 11 minutes per game.
The depleted Eagles will counter with junior guard Jeremy Wise (18.3 ppg), senior Courtney Beasley (13.2 ppg) and R.L. Horton (12.1 ppg).
Southern Miss will have a distinct height disadvantage. Currently Andre Stephens is the only Eagle taller than 6-foot-5, gaining significant minutes, since forward Sai'Quon Stone went down with a broken foot in December. The Eagles are also hurting when it comes to depth, promising freshman guard Jerome Clyburn who is recovering from his second broken foot of the year.
Tulsa is currently averaging 66.6 ppg while giving up giving up a league low of 59.6 ppg. Southern Miss is averaging 68.3 ppg while giving up 59.8 ppg which is second in C-USA.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
G - Ben Uzoh (Jr. 6-foot-4, 195-pounds)
G - Glenn Andrews (So. 6-foot-3, 195-pounds)
F - Ray Reece (Sr. 6-foot-5, 215-pounds)
F - Bishop Wheatley (Jr. 6-foot-6, 210-pounds)
C - Jerome Jordan (Jr. 7-foot-0, 240-pounds)
Key Reserves: G- Justin Hurtt, F-Steven Idlet, F-Sam Mitchell, F-Joe Richard.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
G - Jeremy Wise (Jr. 6-foot-1, 165-pounds)
G - R.L. Horton (So. 6-foot-0, 170-pounds)
G - Courtney Beasley (Sr. 6-foot-3, 210-pounds)
G - Craig Craft (Sr. 6-foot-1, 190-pounds)
F - Andre Stephens (So. 6-foot-8, 235-pounds)
Key Reserves: G-Rodney McCauley, F-Corey Smith and C-Gustavo Lino.
Southern Miss will have a challenge in the paint going up against the much large Tulsa squad that can sub in five players 6-foot-7 or taller, and may be able to match the Eagles' athletic guards. A large contingent of Golden Eagle fans at the Greenhouse could go a long way in helping the Eagles through this tough C-USA opener.
A solid showing in front of the home crowd will not only create a huge momentum boost and confidence builder for the C-USA portion of the schedule, but will give Southern Miss that marquee C-USA win that they need as they pursue 20 wins.
Needless to say this week's contest between C-USA top defensive games will be entertaining and could be a hard-nosed affair of two solid clubs who feature a ton of athleticism.
Southern Miss is offering a special mid-week 4 for 40 promotion that includes four general admission tickets, four Cokes and four hotdogs for $40. Half-time entertainment will be Seymour preforming his 2009 National Championship Competition Routine.
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