Bill Haisten's Conference USA Insider
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
1/09/13 at 5:10 AM
Tulsa: Only one conference game has been played thus far, and it was the Golden Hurricane's nationally televised road victory over SMU on Sunday. In a 48-47 triumph, with Pat Swilling Jr. converting on the game-winning 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left, TU held the Mustangs to 18 points below their season scoring average.
Tulane: Last season, the last-place Green Wave was 3-13 in league play. This week, Tulane enters C-USA play with the league's best nonconference record (12-3). Junior forward Josh Davis leads the conference in scoring (18.1) and rebounding (10.3). Can Tulane sustain the momentum?
Rice: The 3-10 Owls seem destined for a miserable trip through the Conference USA schedule. In its last four home games, Rice was beaten by LIU-Brooklyn (97-70) and Hartford, needed overtime to defeat Chicago State and lost by two points to TCU. Last Saturday, the Owls completed nonconference play with a game at Harvard. Rice lost by 30 points.
With 3.8 seconds remaining in a nationally televised C-USA opener, Pat Swilling Jr.'s 3-point basket from the left corner lifted Tulsa to a 48-47 victory at SMU. It was a personally significant triumph for Golden Hurricane coach Danny Manning, who was matched with his former Kansas coach - SMU head man Larry Brown. TU visits Marshall on Wednesday night.
News and notes
Rivalry victory: In Knoxville last Friday, in its first true road game of the season, Memphis recorded its third consecutive victory over in-state rival Tennessee. The Vols lost for the first time at home this season as the Tigers prevailed 85-80.
Against a Tennessee team ranked sixth nationally in 3-point percentage defense (.250), the Tigers were good on 7-of-11 shots from 3-point range. Joe Jackson led Memphis with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Geron Johnson's 16-point performance included two significant 3-point baskets during the second half.
Memphis opens defense of its Conference USA regular-season title when East Carolina visits the FedEx Forum on Wednesday night.
Huge numbers: In most cases, an NCAA Division I team is expected to overwhelm an NAIA opponent. It happened in November as Tulsa crushed LSU-Shreveport 110-54, and it happened last week as Southern Miss slammed Dillard University 135-41.
Extending its home win streak to 20, Southern Miss got career-high scoring totals from Daveon Boardingham and Cedric Jenkins, each of whom scored 22 points. Golden Eagle guard Neil Watson had 17 assists - the second-highest total ever by a Conference USA player.
Weekly honors: The C-USA player of the week is Memphis junior guard Joe Jackson. In an 85-80 victory at Tennessee, his stat line included 20 points, four rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
The freshman of the week is Rice guard Max Guercy, who scored a season-high 19 points - connecting on all four of his 3-point attempts - as the Owls were beaten at Harvard.
1. Memphis: Tiger coach Josh Pastner is 0-11 against opponents ranked in the Top 25, but Memphis' talent remains the gold standard in Conference USA.
2. Southern Miss: Golden Eagles are undefeated at home and won in OT at Georgia. At fourth-ranked Arizona, Southern Miss lost by only eight points.
3. UTEP: John Bohannon, a 6-foot-10 junior center, hits 61 percent of his field-goal attempts and ranks among C-USA leaders in blocked shots.
4. Tulsa: Status of injured forwards Smith, Wright and Swannegan could determine whether Hurricane is involved in the pennant race.
5. Tulane: The Green Wave recorded nearly as many victories in nonconference play (12) as it did during the entire 2011-12 season (15).
6. SMU: After a 10-4 start, Larry Brown's Mustang squad was dealt consecutive home losses by Wyoming and the Golden Hurricane.
7. Houston: Driven by TaShawn Thomas, Joseph Young and freshman Danuel House, Cougars lead C-USA in scoring at 79.8 per game.
8. UCF: Keith Clanton leads Conference USA in field goal percentage (.611), while Kasey Wilson has the best 3-point percentage (.564).
9. UAB: After nine seasons on Roy Williams' North Carolina staff, former Kansas guard Jerod Haase is the Blazers' first-year head coach.
10. East Carolina: The Pirates are 9-4 and average 79.2 points per game but have the league's fourth-worst RPI ranking at No. 201.
11. Marshall: The 7-8 Thundering Herd is 264th in the RPI, ranking ranks 11th in C-USA in field-goal percentage and last in free-throw percentage.
12. Rice: There are 347 schools in NCAA Division I men's basketball. Rice's current RPI position is No. 332.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Houston at Southern Miss, 2 p.m. Saturday
The Golden Eagles have a 20-game home win streak - the fifth-longest in Division I. Houston has Conference USA's most potent offense at nearly 80 points per game. Against Texas-Pan American last week, Cougar guard Joseph Young connected on seven 3-pointers.
Memphis and Joe Jackson (right) handed Tennessee and Skylar McBee their first home loss of the season. AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS / Knoxville News Sentinel / AP