Chris Crawford's three-point attempt from atop the arc was slightly left of its target as time expired tonight in Hattiesburg and the Golden Eagles ended an 18-game losing streak against Memphis. Playing in front of a packed Reed Green Coliseum — and in their home whites — the Tigers stormed out to a 16-4 lead but found themselves down 34-33 at halftime. Leading scorer Will Barton was held to two points in the first half, while Crawford scored 10 in the game's first eight minutes.
Southern Miss went on an 8-2 run late in the second half to take a 59-54 lead and held on for the win. The Tigers twice closed the deficit to a single point, but couldn't catch their longtime rivals. Joe Jackson missed a free throw that would have tied the game at 71 and Wesley Witherspoon missed a put-back layup that would have given Memphis the lead with just over 10 seconds to play.
The Golden Eagles improve to 20-3 (11-0 at home) and now own sole possession of first place in Conference USA. The Tigers (15-7) fall to 6-2 in league play, tied with Tulsa for second place.
Crawford hit five of seven treys and scored a career-high 23 points for Memphis. Will Barton added 15 and Joe Jackson 14 off the bench.
Darnell Dodson hit four key free throws in the final minute and led Southern Miss with 23 points. Neil Watson hit all eight of his free throws and scored 17.
Memphis returns to FedExForum to host Xavier on Saturday (tip-off at noon).