March 10, 2011 7:53:00 AM
EL PASO, Texas -- Gary Flowers scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Wednesday to lead the fifth-seeded Southern Mississippi men''s basketball team to a 63-47 victory against 12th-seeded Tulane in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.
Flowers, a senior forward who earlier this week received the Howell Trophy for being the state of Mississippi''s top men''s college basketball player, reached double figures for the 27th consecutive game. His ninth double-double of the season pushed the Golden Eagles (22-9) into a matchup against fourth-seeded Memphis (22-9) at 2:30 p.m. today (CBS College Sports).
"We''ve been looking forward to it but like our coaches told us, we had to get past Tulane first," Flowers said. "We had to come out and play our game one play at a time like he''s been talking about to try to get to Memphis. Now that we have the opportunity, we''re looking forward to it.
Memphis beat Southern Miss 76-75 on Jan. 19 in Hattiesburg and 67-61 on Feb. 12 in Memphis.
"They are very, very good, and we know we''re going to have to play one of the best games of the year to beat them," Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy said. "We''re really into the team following directions, and they''ve done a very good job. We''re willing to take it one play at a time, so we''re just going to practice, walk through a few things, and we''re going to play Memphis one play at a time. I just want it for these guys."
LaShay Page added 12 points and Josimar Ayarza 10 for Southern Miss, which shot 46.8 percent while limiting Tulane to 34 percent.
Kris Richard had 16 points to lead the Green Wave (13-17). Kendall Timmons added 15. Richard hit four 3-pointers.
The Golden Eagles held the Green Wave scoreless for the final 5 minutes, 9 seconds of the first half and led 35-18 at halftime.
Their lead in the second half lead peaked at 22.
Tulane coach Ed Conroy complimented the play of Flowers and the rest of the Golden Eagles.
"Everyone on their team was very focused on what they were trying to get done (and) where they were trying to go with the basketball," Conroy said. "They were really very patient and really made the most of every trip down the floor.
"Gary is a great player, but I really thought it was a team effort on their part."
n In related news, Flowers earlier in the day received first-team National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District honors.
Flowers is the second Golden Eagle to earn NABC All-District. Kelly McCarty was named to the second team in 1997-98.
UTEP guard Randy Culpepper, Tulsa''s Justin Hurtt of Tulsa, Southern Methodist''s Papa Dia, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham''s Jamarr Sanders joined him on the second team.
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