Men’s team climbs up the conference poll

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Michaela Roman

Men’s team fights back to win four straight in league play.

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

Prior to last week, the Miners were winless on the road (0-7). But after back-to-back wins over Florida International (84-74) and Florida Atlantic (89-82), the men’s basketball team snapped their traveling losing streak, while extending their win streak to four.

This week, the Miners (15-11, 7-6 Conference USA) will be hosting Southern Miss (Thursday, Feb. 18) and Louisiana Tech (Saturday, Feb. 20) in the Don Haskins Center.

Head coach Tim Floyd seems to have finally grasped the reigns of his team during the second half of league play. They are 4-0 so far in the last stretch of conference action.

After beating both Florida teams, the Miners broke .500 in conference for the first time since Jan. 3. After defeating FAU, a team that the Miners struggled with earlier this season, Floyd and his team seem to feel more confident with their recent luck.

“We’re pleased to get the win (over FAU),” Floyd said. “We are better in three areas than we were a week ago on the road. Not turning it over more than our opponents, which had been a problem area on the road. We outrebounded our opponent, which had been a problem area on the road. And free throw attempts had been a problem area on the road. We handled those three areas much better.”

One of the key highlights in the win, illustrated by Floyd, was outrebounding FAU 38-31. Four players had six or more boards, including Dominic Artis (9), Terry Winn (8), Omega Harris (6) and Lee Moore (6). The squad struggled earlier in the season in rebounds and had not out-rebounded a team since LA Tech (Jan. 31).

Also against FAU, Artis posted a near triple-double, recording 13 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Artis also shot nine-of-16 and made four of six free throws.

“We got great play from Dominic Artis (against FAU), which was really encouraging,” Floyd said. “He played at a high level.”

While the team is obviously rolling on a positive streak, Floyd continues to see points that need improvement.

“Too many turnovers,” Floyd said. “We had 15 at the half (against FAU). We could’ve been up 12, 14 in the first half, but it was mistake after mistake handling the ball with our guys.”

Scouting Southern Miss

Even though they are currently second to last in C-USA, the Golden Eagles (7-16, 4-8 C-USA) dominated the Miners (71-58) in their last meeting. In that matchup, Southern Miss shut down Artis to only three points and had four players score 10 or more points.

Guard Kourtlin Jackson leads the Southern Miss team with 12.1 points per game. Accompanying Jackson in the guard position is Khari Price. Price, a junior transfer from Dayton, is deadly on the free throw line. He averages 86.4 percent from the charity stripe.

While UTEP has won four in a row, Southern Miss is on a four-game losing streak. Although they have not won since Jan. 30, the Golden Eagles had an impressive fight against top-ranked UAB, but fell 80-77 in double overtime. They are also coming off a distasteful 76-54 loss to Middle Tennessee.

Bulldogs on the rise

Louisiana Tech (19-6, 8-4) is hot after upsetting top-ranked UAB (85-76).  They currently stand at fourth in C-USA, and have won six of their last seven games. The Bulldogs are currently 5-5 overall away.

Guard Alex Hamilton is a defense’s nightmare. He leads C-USA in assists per game (6.1), second in steals per game (1.8), and fourth in points per game (18.3). During the last meeting between the Miners, Hamilton scored 14 points, assisted nine times and recorded six boards.

Although they lost to LA Tech, 78-70, in the last meeting, a significant turning point in the Miners’ season can be pinpointed after they lost to the Bulldogs. Artis dropped 30 points against the Bulldogs, and the group has not lost since. However, the Miners will have to lock down better defensively. In their last meeting, all five starters of the Bulldogs had double figures in scoring.

Hot Streak

With four in a row, the Miners are currently the hottest team in C-USA. This is their longest win streak since the start of the season, where the Miners started 6-0. Over the last four games, they have averaged 94.5 points and have shot 129-for-253 from the floor.

Tip off for Thursday’s game against Southern Miss will be at 7:05 p.m., while Saturday it will be at 6 p.m. These are two of the Miners’ last five games in the regular season.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]