Southern Miss takes down No. 19 James Madison

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, January 6, 2024

HATTIESBURG (AP) — For the first time in more than a decade, a ranked opponent played in Reed Green Coliseum. Southern Miss was more than up to the challenge.

Victor Hart scored 16 points and Andre Curbelo had 15 points and nine assists, as Southern Miss beat No. 19 James Madison 81-71 on Saturday.

James Madison (14-1, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) entered as one of only three remaining undefeated Division I men’s basketball teams. The Dukes were also the first nationally ranked team to visit Southern Miss since then-No. 22 Central Florida in January 2011. The Golden Eagles also won that game, 86-69.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

“I thought our preparation was good, our approach to the game was good,” Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner said. “They battled and played the way you’re supposed to play and played with great effort, intensity and teamwork. They did the things they have to do to beat a great team like James Madison.”

Austin Crowley had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Eagles (8-7, 2-1 Sun Belt), who earned their second straight win. Cobie Montgomery scored 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting.

Hart went 5-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 at the line. He also had seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

Southern Miss shot 49.1 percent from the field, compared to 39.4 percent for James Madison. The Golden Eagles also enjoyed a big advantage at the line, making 25 of 33 free throws while the Dukes connected on 13 of 19.

“We are a next-game team,” Crowley said. “No matter what, we want to push forward. We never think back to the past or what we did badly. We know what we are capable of, and we know the team that we have. We always answer back. That’s our theme: if you punch us, then we’ll punch right back.”

T.J. Bickerstaff had 14 points and 16 rebounds for James Madison, which trailed 44-35 at halftime. Terrence Edwards Jr. scored 15 points, and Noah Freidel had 13.

The Dukes entered as the Sun Belt’s top scoring offense and second in 3-point shooting. They were held 20 points under their scoring average and went 2 for 17 from beyond the arc.

“I thought we competed hard,” James Madison coach Mark Byington said. “Look, this thing’s not easy. We missed some shots, we missed some plays. Our defense wasn’t sharp in the first half. … We came in and played a team that’s talented. They had a great environment in here. It was very chaotic. … I don’t think that got to us, but I think it energized them.”

James Madison trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half, but closed to 64-60 on Michael Green III’s layup with 6:14 left. Southern Miss responded with a 9-0 run. Hart opened the spurt with a 3-pointer and closed it out with two foul shots that made it 73-60 with 4:26 remaining. James Madison didn’t get closer than seven points after that.

“If you didn’t get your $10 worth, or however little bit of money we charge to get in, from that game then I don’t know what else to tell you,” Ladner said. “That was a heck of a game against a heck of an opponent.”