USM storms past Troy, 89-71

USM storms past Troy, 89-71
USM Men's basketball get the win against Troy; Photo courtesy: WDAM Staff (Taylor Curet)
Photo credit: Raycom Image Bank
Photo credit: Raycom Image Bank

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - When you want instant coffee, you add hot water.

When it comes to the University of Southern Mississippi men's basketball team, when you want instant offense, you add a hot Dominic Magee.

The junior-transfer guard scored 10 of USM's first 13 points, had seven points in a key, 16-2 second-half run and finished with a season-high 27 points as the Golden Eagles ran away from Troy University 89-71 Sunday afternoon at Green Coliseum.

"I've said it again and again, Dom is a guy, offensively, who can score at will," USM coach Doc Sadler said. "(Sunday), I thought he was a lot more patient and let the game come to him."

Magee, who was one of three Golden Eagles with a team-best six rebounds, made 9-of-16 shots, including 3-of-5 attempts from 3-point range.

For the game, USM made a season-high 13 treys, shooting 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from beyond the arc. For the game, the Golden Eagles shot 56.6 percent from the floor and drained 16-of-19 free throws (84.2 percent).

"We shot the ball as about as well as we possibly could shoot it," Sadler said. "I know we didn't play perfect. I'm sure we made mistakes. But when you shoot the basketball, some of those mistakes tend to get overlooked."

USM junior-transfer guard Tyree Griffin scored a career-high 23 points, while junior guard Cortez Edwards scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half as the Golden Eagles (5-4) improved to 4-0 at Green Coliseum this season.

The Trojans (5-5), who lost by only eight points at the University of Kentucky and had won three of its last four games, hit 52.5 percent from the floor and made 11 3-pointers.

But Troy was without its best player, 6-foot-7 senior forward Jordon Varnado, who missed his fourth consecutive game after suffering a foot injury. Varnado, who was named first-team All-Sun Belt Conference last season, was averaging 19 points and 7.3 rebounds a game before being sidelined.

"I think more than anything else, Troy is trying to learn how to play without Varnado," Sadler said.

That being said, the Trojans ran into a black-and-gold buzzsaw Sunday.

Troy scored the first five points of the game on a 3-pointer by junior guard Juan Davis and a hook in the lane by sophomore forward Alex Hicks.

That was the last time Troy led.

Magee came out red-hot, hitting his first four shots, and the Golden Eagles were hitting from all over, in general, connecting on seven of their first 11 shots, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

Two Edwards' free throws left USM up 38-23 with 3 minutes, 42 seconds, left in the first half, but those were the last Golden Eagles' points of the half and Troy used an 8-0 run to close to 38-31 at the break.

It was as close as the Trojans would get the remainder of the game.

USM guard Kevin Holland opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers the lead back to double digits.

After Troy senior guard Kevin Baker drove for a layup to keep Troy at 51-41, USM ripped off a 16-2 run that all-but-buried the Trojans.

Edwards scored the first three baskets on a jumper, reverse drive and a fast-break layup, and Magee followed with a jumper, a 3-pointer and a slam dunk off a steal. When Griffin added a 3-pointer, the Golden Eagles held a 24-point lead, 67-43, with just less than 11 minutes left in the game.

The lead grew to 26 points and the Trojans would get no closer than 17 points, 79-56, down the stretch.

Griffin, who hit 8-of-11 shots from the floor and 4-of-5 from 3-point range, grabbed six rebounds and handed out a game-high five assists. Edwards also had five rebounds.

Troy senior guard Wesley Person, son of former Auburn University star and NBA standout Wesley Person Sr., led Troy with 20 points, three rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Alex Hicks scored 13 points and pulled down a game-high seven rebounds and Davis added 10 points.

USM out-rebounded Troy 26 to 24, and committed just seven turnovers, all in the first half.

The Golden Eagles will travel to Huntsville, Ala., Thursday to take on Alabama A&M University at 6 p.m. USM returns to Green Coliseum for the final home game of 2017 at 4 p.m. on Dec. 16, when it hosts William Carey University.