Basketball creeps into game
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG sports writer
Oct. 20, 2002
HATTIESBURG Although football was the focus of attention for the University of Southern Mississippi Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium, basketball made its grab for a slice of the action.
Golden Eagle men's head coach James Green stopped by the stadium press box to discuss Saturday's first full scrimmage, which closed out the teams' first week of practice.
Redshirt freshman Jasper Johnson looked like a force inside during Saturday's 90-minute scrimmage, displaying a soft touch and good footwork around the basket.
USM opens its season Nov. 22 at home against Alcorn State.
If you were looking for a play that may have given the Golden Eagles a jolt at the right time, look to a seemingly-insignificant play early in the fourth quarter.
With UC driving, with a first down from the Bearcat 37, Cincinnati tight end A.J. Lucius caught a pass in the flat and was immediately knocked sprawling on a crushing hit by USM safety Etric Pruitt.
One play later, an aroused Pruitt picked off a Bearcat pass and went untouched 44 yards to give the Eagles the lead for good.
HALL OF FAMERS
The USM "M" Club announced its 2003 inductees for the Southern Miss Hall of Fame during halftime of Saturday's game,
Included in the group are six former Eagle athletes and a former administrative assistant. The list includes Rex Barnes (football, 1967-69), Tyrone Nix (football, 1990-93), Charles Ellzey (football, 1957-59), Tommy Davis (baseball, 1992-94), Tanya Bullock (basketball, 1990-94), Glen Hnatiuk (golf, 1984-88) and Ken Shearer (administrative assistant, 1957-60).
Golden Eagle defenders came into Saturday's game with a healthy respect for Cincinnati tailback Demarco McCleskey, and that respect was well-founded.
McCleskey ran 29 times for 135 yards and a touchdown and also caught two passes for 40 yards. Nearly half of his yards and carries came in the first quarter, which he finished with 63 yards on 13 carries.
Saturday's game was originally scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff, but was pushed back an hour because installation of new stadium lights was not complete.
USM is in putting new, higher powered lights, including new lights at each corner of the stadium, in preparation for the nationally-televised ESPN game against Louisville on Nov. 14.
WHAT A KICK
For a long time Saturday, the most consistent player wearing the black of USM was punter Mark Haulman. The senior from Vicksburg kicked nine times for a 43.3-yard average.
Haulman's best effort was a 61-yard boot early in the second quarter, that was the third-longest of his career. As a result, Cincinnati's average starting point was the 24-yard-line.
DEFENSE BOWS UP
Despite giving up over 400 yards to the Bearcats, USM only allowed 14 points, just about squarely on its average for the season.
The Golden Eagles came into the game allowing just 13.8 points per game, tied with Texas A&M for sixth in the nation. In three trips inside the USM 10, Cincinnati only got two field goals and a touchdown.
Cincinnati quarterback Gino Guidugli was doubtful all week with a knee injury, and even though he started the game, he wasn't 100 percent.
Back-up George Murray played extensively in the second half, as Guidugli's mobility was limited.
IN A SLUMP
Golden Eagle place-kicker Curt Jones missed both of his tries Saturday, including a 53-yard attempt at the end of the first half. Jones has now missed his last three kicks.