After hitting the road running, the Wildcats (5-0) will return home to host Southern Mississippi. Arizona remained undefeated and picked up the first away game of the season with an 85-57 victory over Texas Tech.
The Golden Eagles (6-1) will travel to McKale Center coming off the first loss of the season, falling to New Mexico State 68-60. Up until the loss, Southern Miss had been getting better after winning the first two games of the season in overtime periods.
Southern Miss trailed for the entire game against the Aggies. The Golden Eagles struggled to shoot the ball effectively and stayed in the game because of their tough defense.
That same defense should test the Wildcats. The showdown will match the top three-point shooting team in the Pac-12 with the top three-point shooting defense in Conference-USA. Arizona has let it fly so far this season, hitting a conference high 49 shots from beyond the arc. The Wildcats also sit at sixth in the nation in three-pointers made and fifth in three-point field goal percentage, hitting at 43.8 percent.
Head Coach Donnie Tyndall is in his first season with the Golden Eagles, taking the coaching job after leading Morehead State to the NCAA Tournament last season. So far, he has produced a Southern Miss team that is capable of winning games, especially close ones.
Southern Miss is led by 6-foot-5 senior Dwayne Davis. The forward is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15.1 points a game. Davis is also active on the boards, grabbing 4.7 rebounds a game as well as just over one steal.
Jonathan Mills is another senior forward that joins Davis in the starting lineup. A transfer from the College of Eastern Utah a year ago, Mills has fit in with the team well and scores ten points a contest for the Golden Eagles. He is also 6-foot-5, but leads the team in rebounding with 7.6 a night. Mills is a leaper too, blocking a team-high five shots this season.
Michael Craig is the third 6-foot-5 forward to start for the Golden Eagles. Craig is new to the Southern Mississippi team, joining it after spending the past two seasons playing for South Mountain Community College. He is a Phoenix-native and will be playing his first game in Arizona since joining the Golden Eagles. Craig is the team’s third leading scorer (9.9), but has had trouble with ball control, turning the ball over 21 times on the season compared to just 18 assists.
Stepping in at one of the guard positions is 6-foot-4 senior Rashard McGill. The guard is the least productive starter in terms of statistics, but is a leader on the defensive side of the floor. McGill is one of the main reasons that the Golden Eagles lead Conference-USA in three-point shooting defense.
Jerrold Brooks is the final starter for Southern Miss. The offense flows through Brooks, although numbers may say otherwise. The junior is another new face on the roster this season after spending his last two years at Casper College, where he was a Second Team NJCAA All-American.
The first man off the bench for the Golden Eagles should be Neil Watson. The junior guard is one of the most effective players on the team, scoring 6.2 points per game and averaging over three assists. He is averaging more minutes than McGill and is a quality sixth man.
Norville Carey is just a freshman for the Golden Eagles, but is already becoming a key player off the bench. Playing nearly fifteen minutes a night, Carey is averaging 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Dayeon Boardingham and Deon Edwin are two other new faces to the Golden Eagles rotation. Boardingham is a junior transfer from Seward County Community College. He is scoring just under five points each time out, but is averaging 2.2 rebounds and plays solid defense as the tallest player in the rotation.
Edwin has similar stats to Boardingham, but is a completely different player. He is just a freshman out of high school, but has shown promise early on, scoring a season-high seven points in the last game against New Mexico State.
The Golden Eagles should pose a decent threat to Arizona, who is riding high after starting the season with five straight wins. If the Wildcats can come out and play like they have the past few games, then they shouldn’t have any problems.
The only thing that stands in Arizona’s way is the Southern Miss defense, but the height advantage also gives the Wildcats an advantage if they aren’t shooting particularly well.