Keys to Victory: SMU vs. Southern Miss

SMU (10-10, 3-3) will begin their two game road trip at Southern Miss (12-8, 2-4) to take on the Golden Eagles. The Mustangs are currently riding a four game winning streak; including last game's upset of the Memphis Tigers. PonyStampede.com's Hoops Editor Kyle Phillippi gives us the "Keys to Victory."

SMU (10-10, 3-3) will begin their two game road trip at Southern Miss (12-8, 2-4) to take on the Golden Eagles. The Mustangs are currently riding a four game winning streak; including last game's upset of the Memphis Tigers. No one has been hotter for SMU than senior guard Derek Williams, who has elevated his points per game to 17.0, ranking him fourth in the C-USA. On the other side of the court, Southern Miss has their own win streak going, consisting of wins against East Carolina and at Tulane. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, they have to go up against the hottest team in the C-USA, and the hottest player at the moment. With SMU's incredible play as of recent, it's hard to picture them losing to Southern Miss, but like always, this is college basketball, and upsets are always looming on the horizon. So what do the Mustangs have to do to secure their fifth straight win?

Three's Company
For anyone who watched SMU defeat Memphis, you witnessed two guys, Papa Dia and Derek Williams, step up. Although they were lucky enough to win that game, it's about time for someone else on the SMU roster to rise to the occasion. The most likely candidate has to be Paul McCoy. His minutes on the floor have been decreasing in the past three games, going from 31 minutes against Houston Baptist, all the way down to 16 minutes against Memphis. The decline in minutes can be credited to his poor production on the court.

On the season, McCoy is only averaging 7.8 points per game, and during SMU's four game winning streak, McCoy is posting a measly 5 points per game. Derek Williams and Papa Dia are doing a fabulous job carrying this team as of now, and one can only imagine how much more dangerous this offense could be if a third participant stepped up. Robert Nyadkundi has stepped up in certain games, including a 20 point night against Houston Baptist, but was only able to notch seven points in 33 minutes against Memphis.

Gary Flowers
The junior forward does everything for Southern Miss. First, he is 11th in the C-USA with 14.3 points per game, with a season high of 25 points against UAB. In his last game against Tulane, Flowers was unable to make his shots, and finished with just six points. Second, Flowers is averaging eight rebounds per game, ranking him sixth in the C-USA. He has eight games of ten or more rebounds, including last game against Tulane, where he hauled in 10 boards. SMU has their own rebounding machine, Papa Dia, who is coming fresh off of a double-double, in which he scored a career high 23 points and 14 rebounds. Flowers will have to fight hard for position down low if he wants to contribute on the boards. Keeping Flowers off his game will be important for SMU if they want to rack up their fifth win in a row.

Conclusion
In what will most likely be a well fought conference battle, SMU will need Derek Williams to back up his 25 point game against Memphis with another solid performance. The Golden Eagles are averaging 67.2 points per game, while allowing only 60 points to their opponents. For SMU, they are averaging 68.8 points per game, but during their current 4 game win streak, they are averaging an impressive 72.5 points per contest.


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