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February 7, 2011It's no surprise that Southern Miss' winning streak-which had reached four games through Feb. 5-had coincided with the Golden Eagles' recommitment to defense.
In the most recent three wins, Southern Miss allowed an average of 62 points per game. The most telling game might have been the Feb. 5 win over Marshall. When the Golden Eagles and Herd played Jan. 8, Southern Miss lost 95-65.
The Golden Eagles won the rematch 67-60.
"It was payback, man," Southern Miss point guard Angelo Johnson told local media after the game. "We owed them."
Southern Miss allowed Marshall to shoot just 33 percent from the field on Feb. 5, and it outrebounded the Herd 49-39.
"It was a fierce, fierce competitive game," Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy. "I just like the way they find a way to win."
• Southern Miss' competitive season has reinvigorated the fan base. The Golden Eagles have increased attendance, and they could have a sellout Feb. 16 against UTEP if the winning streak stays intact.
• The winter storm that hit the nation last week helped put the Golden Eagles into a first-place tie in Conference USA. Southern Miss rallied for a road win at UAB. League leader UTEP had an unexpected bye when its game against UCF was postponed by record cold in El Paso.
By The Numbers: 11-The biggest deficit Southern Miss faced in its game against UAB. The Golden Eagles came back to win.
Quote To Note: "It's one of the better wins since I've been here. It keeps us in the (Conference USA) race."-Coach Larry Eustachy, after Southern Miss beat UAB.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week's Game:
• at Memphis, Feb. 12
Key Matchups: It was a particularly crushing loss that Memphis handed to the Golden Eagles on Jan. 19. Southern Miss was receiving votes in the Top 25 before the Tigers ended a competitive game with a jumper in the final seconds. Memphis' bench outscored Southern Miss's reserves 37-8.
Futures Market: The next two games could be the most pivotal of the season for the Golden Eagles. After a week of rest, Southern Miss heads to Memphis for a rematch with the Tigers, a team that edged the Golden Eagles on a last-second 3-pointer in January. After that, the Golden Eagles return home to face UTEP, and coach Tim Floyd, who is from Hattiesburg, Miss. Both of those opponents were near the top of the league through Feb. 6.
• Senior G R.L. Horton tied a season low with two points in the Golden Eagles' Feb. 5 win over Marshall.
• Senior F Josimar Ayarza seemed to be warming up after a conference cold spell. He had 10 points against UAB on Feb. 2 and another 10 against Marshall on Feb. 5 after scoring in double figures only once in his previous 13 games.