Curbelo’s rare triple-double helps Southern Miss to first conference victory

Published 9:14 am Friday, January 5, 2024

HATTIESBURG — Andre Curbelo helped Southern Miss earn its first conference victory of the season by accomplishing a feat that hadn’t been done in decades.

Curbelo finished with 13 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to record Southern Miss’ first triple-double in 43 years, and the Golden Eagles beat Georgia State 79-73 on Thursday.

The last Southern Miss player to have a triple-double was Ronald Jackson in 1980. Curbelo had eight assists in the first half.

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“I never play for that,” Curbelo said. “It just happened to be a good time for me to do it. I was able to get an assist right away and then three rebounds after that. I have to give all the credit to my teammates and coaching staff.”

Austin Crowley provided the scoring spark for Southern Miss (7-7, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference). The Sun Belt preseason Player of the Year matched his previous season high with 25 points, marking the 10th time in his career that he passed the 20-point threshold.

Crowley and Curbelo combined to take 37 of Southern Miss’ 68 shots.

The Golden Eagles built a 44-35 halftime lead, and eventually extended it to 14 when Mo Arnold finished a smooth, left-handed drive with 5:28 to go in the game.

The lead evaporated down to four in a matter of four minutes, though. Georgia State’s Jay’Den Turner made two free throws to cut it to 77-73 with 1:17 to play. Crowley then converted a pair of free throws of his own in the final minute to ice the Sun Belt home-opening win for Southern Miss.

Georgia State (6-7, 1-1) had two turnovers and missed two 3-pointers on its last four possessions.

Turner finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dwon Odom also had a double-double for Georgia State with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Toneari Lane added 15 points as well. The Panthers entered the game leading the Sun Belt in free throw percentage, but only shot 52.4 percent (11-for-21) on Thursday.

Victor Hart and Victor Iwuakor scored 10 points apiece for Southern Miss. Iwuakor also had seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

“I thought (Iwuakor) was really, really solid defensively. He brings an element that we really haven’t had since I’ve been here in terms of a real shot blocker,” Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner said. “He’s not tall, he’s 6-7, but he’s very explosive and athletic. He had four blocks tonight, a couple of big ones where he erased guys going to the rim.”

Southern Miss will now turn its attention to No. 19 James Madison as it hosts a ranked team inside Reed Green Coliseum for the first time since 2011. The Golden Eagles and Dukes are slated to meet at 2 p.m. Saturday.

James Madison (14-0, 2-0) is one of only three Division I men’s teams — along with Ole Miss and Houston — that is still undefeated.

“I would love for us to have a packed house,” Ladner said. “What an opportunity that we have. They’re long, athletic, can really score it. We’re going to have to be on top of our game to be able to beat them, and on a quick turnaround.”