Jean, Boykins Lead Bulldogs Past USM

Jan. 1, 2017

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Derric Jean and Jacobi Boykins each scored 18 points and Louisiana Tech overcame a sluggish first half of basketball to defeat Southern Miss 79-55 at Reed Green Coliseum Sunday afternoon.

The victory by Tech (9-5, 1-0 C-USA) was the Bulldogs first on the road this season and the sixth in a row over the Golden Eagles (3-10, 0-1 C-USA).

After connecting on only 23 percent (8-35) of its field goals in the first half, Tech hit 62 percent (18-29) in the second half to outscore Southern Miss 54-37 over the final 20 minutes of action.

"I thought both teams played hard," said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. "From a defensive standpoint we were happy (in the first half). From an offensive standpoint we had so many shots at the rim and so many shots that rimmed out. We missed a lot of free throws.

"Both teams (struggled to shoot). It felt like they were hanging around the rim and just coming out. It was difficult to get into a rhythm in the first half. Give Southern Miss credit. They changed up defenses. But we felt like we were getting the shots we wanted but couldn't get them to fall. . But we made some adjustments at halftime, got our composure in locker room and came out in second half ready to go."

Tech held a 25-18 halftime lead, but came out of the locker room strong, scoring the first 13 points of the second half to build a 38-18 by starting the second half on a 13-0 run over the first three minutes. DaQuan Bracey hit back-to-back layups and Omar Sherman added a pair of buckets before a three-pointer by Boykins capped the strong start to the second half.

Tech led by 20 with 17 minutes to play. However, Southern Miss wouldn't go quietly as the Golden Eagles found their offensive legs, using a 26-12 run over the next seven minutes of play to close the deficit to 50-44 with 9:34 remaining in the game.

Konkol turned a full court press defense and it ignited the Bulldogs as Tech used a quick 9-0 fueled by a dunk by Boykins and a three-pointer by freshman Jalen Harris to push the lead back out to 59-44 with 7:49 to play.

"We got into a rhythm offensively in the second half scoring, and they were missing some shots," said Konkol. "But they got our guys attention (with that run), and I felt like we were on our heels. We went to the press, got our blood pumping and created some turnovers. That led to some easy shots for us.

"We wanted to change it up. They went six straight possessions where they scored, some in transition and some in the half court. We needed to change things up defensively and make some adjustments, and the guys did a good job with it."

Tech led 63-51 with five minutes to play and the Bulldogs ended any change of a Southern Miss rally with an 11-0 run.

Jean hit 4-of-8 field goals, including back-to-back three-pointers to open the game, while also connecting of 7-of-9 from the free throw line. The sophomore added six assists and two steals in the win.

"He played a very good game and played almost the entire game," said Konkol. "It was tough to bring him out. He defended so well. His energy level was great and was a constant presence out there."

As a team, Tech hit 19-of-28 free throws -- including 14-of-16 in the second half -- compared to only 5-of-8 for USM. The Bulldogs also outrebounded USM 47-39 and forced 15 Golden Eagles turnovers.

Erik McCree added a double double for Tech with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Quinton Campbel led USM with 16 points.

Tech returns home to host UTEP Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.




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