USM beats TCU
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG Sports Writer
Jan. 9, 2003
HATTIESBURG Few innovations in basketball history have changed the game more than the 3-point field goal, and Wednesday night the University of Southern Mississippi men's basketball team showed why.
The Golden Eagles used a barrage of 3-pointers early in the second half to seize command, then held on to defeat TCU 72-64 before 3,292 at Reed Green Coliseum.
It was the Conference USA opener for both teams; USM climbed to 8-4 overall, while the Horned Frogs dropped to 6-6.
After hitting just 1 of 11 3-point shots in the first half, the Eagles scorched the nets with four straight 3-pointers, part of a 25-4 run that effectively won the game.
Redshirt freshman Jasper Johnson had three of them, but it was a conventional three-point play that ignited the Golden Eagles after TCU had taken a 29-25 lead early in the second half.
USM shouldn't have been in that position, after opening the game quickly against the slow-starting Frogs. The Golden Eagles scored the first 10 points of the game, and led by as many as 13 points in the first half.
TCU climbed back in the game on the play of point guard Corey Santee and forward Bingo Merriex, who scored 21 of the Frogs' 25 points in the first half. The pair brought TCU all the way back into a tie at halftime.
The Horned Frogs got four free throws out of their first two possessions of the second half to take the lead, then Johnson took over.
After closing the gap to one point with his three-point play, Johnson nailed a trey from the right wing to give USM the lead again at 31-29. Santee hit a 12-footer for TCU to retie the game, but Johnson came right back with another 3-pointer from the same spot to give the Eagles the lead for good.
David Haywood dropped in another trey, then Johnson finished off the bombardment with a 3-pointer from the left baseline. Just for good measure, Johnson also hit a soft 12-footer in the lane during USM's decisive run.
In all, Johnson finished with a game-high 22 points to go with his 18-point performance Saturday against Murray State.
Junior Blount, TCU's leading scorer with 18 points a game, finally got untracked with a 3-pointer, igniting an 8-0 run that got the Frogs back in the game. Blount finished with 21 points to lead TCU, but most of them came in the final 10 minutes of play, when TCU was trying to come back.
TCU cut the margin to nine on two occasions midway through the second half, but Gaines and Greg Johnson fueled an 11-2 run that put USM ahead by 18, 63-45, with 4:37 to play.
Blount tried to shoot the Horned Frogs back into the game, scoring 12 points in the final four minutes, but it was too little, too late.
Haywood added 13 points off the bench for USM, including three 3-pointers, as the Golden Eagles connected on 5 of 10 shots from behind the arc in the second half. Santee finished with 15 points for TCU and Merriex added 14.
The Golden Eagles will host Memphis on Saturday in a 4 p.m. start