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Golden Eagles ready to take on Dogs

By Staff
Special to The Star
March 13, 2001
HATTIESBURG For the second time in the James Green coaching era and the eighth-time overall, Southern Miss will play in the National Invitation Tournament, and for the first time in postseason play will meet intrastate rival Mississippi State.
That first round game is set for 7 p. m. Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville.
The NIT invitation came after the Golden Eagles did not make it into the NCAA tournament bracket that was announced Sunday afternoon.
Conference USA Tournament winner Charlotte and runner-up Cincinnati will represent the league in the NCAA tournament, while Memphis and Southern Miss earned NIT spots.
The NIT invite came as welcome, but perhaps somewhat bittersweet, news for the 22-8 Golden Eagles, who recently completed one of their more successful seasons in recent history with an 11-5 league record, a share of the C-USA regular season title and a third-place finish in the league tournament.
Mississippi State leads Southern Miss 13-4 in a series that started in the 1926-27 season. The two teams have not played since Dec. 16, 1995, when the Bulldogs beat the Golden Eagles 72-69 in overtime in a game played in Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss first played in the NIT at the end of the 1981 season when the Eagles lost 56-54 to Holy Cross in Green Coliseum. Six times since then, USM has played in the NIT, most recently to end the 1997-98 season when the Golden Eagles dropped a 77-62 decision at Auburn.
That list of Southern Miss appearances also includes a five-game run to the championship in 1986-87.
The Eagles opened with a Green Coliseum victory over Ole Miss, then won at Saint Louis and Vanderbilt, before moving on to New York, where they beat Nebraska and LaSalle to claim the title.
Tickets for the Wednesday game will not be available through the Southern Miss ticket office. Fans should contact the Mississippi State ticket office for ticket information at 1-888-463-2947.