HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Golden Eagles have not just been good inside Reed-Green Coliseum this season – they've been perfect.
An undefeated 7-0 in Hattiesburg, Southern Miss hopes to continue its home court advantage this weekend when it hosts Rice on Thursday and North Texas on Saturday.
"The good thing is I think we finally for the first time have confidence of thinking that we should win home games," said fourth-year head coach Doc Sadler. "I was even able to see the difference in preparation. The confidence of being at home, you've got a more experienced basketball team that understands the difference between being at home and being on the road. You see a team that I think is getting to where they expect to win at home."
A mark of maturity came when USM won both Thursday and Saturday games – against UTEP and UTSA, respectively – during its last home stand.
"Of course it's always important to win home games," said USM junior guard Cortez Edwards. "You have to. I feel like it's the easiest game to win because everybody just has more energy and wants to play harder, so it's definitely a must-win."
"[I'll use] an example of Kansas cause I spent a year there," Sadler said. "The reason they've been able to win 13 championships in a row is because they've almost been unbeatable at home and then they steal a few games on the road. That's what you try to do in conference. That's why it's so important to eventually get Reed-Green back to a home court advantage that makes it difficult for other teams to come in."
While Southern Miss is undefeated at "the Greenhouse," Sadler's club is just 1-7 on the road including 0-4 in Conference USA. At 9-10 overall, USM's challenge going forward is to serve home and string together a few road wins.
"The four teams that we have played - you go to Marshall, you go to Western Kentucky, UAB and Middle [Tennessee] - they're probably the four top-drawing teams in this league. Yeah, winning at home is always going to be the most important thing to do and then the number of games you can win on the road is really going to dictate what kind of season you end up having."