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Preview: M. Bball welcomes Southern Mississippi | The Triangle

Preview: M. Bball welcomes Southern Mississippi

Drexel University Dragons (1-4) vs. University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-1)
5 p.m., Daskalakis Athletic Center, Philadelphia

Momentum Check

James “Bruiser” Flint’s squad is coming off its first win of the season, a win that snapped the program’s longest losing streak in nearly six years. Guard Damion Lee scored 60 points in the final two games of the team’s stint in the Charleston Classic, displaying an otherworldly scoring ability against Pac-12 and Ivy League competition. At this point, Lee is clearly the gatekeeper of the Dragons’ offense, but the play of forward Rodney Williams — who averaged 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in those two contests — in Sunday, Nov. 30’s game will determine whether the Drexel offense continues to roll at its newfound pace or returns to its sub-50 points per game pace from the first three outings of the season.

For Southern Mississippi, a pair of easy victories to start the season saw them unprepared for a good University of Alabama squad. The Golden Eagles recovered and topped Troy in dramatic fashion, but they will enter Sunday’s contest with a chip on their shoulder to prove that they’re back in the driver’s seat after the tough loss to the Crimson Tide. The Golden Eagles depend on their offensive basketball, with a slew of talented scorers, and the team’s ability to reach its scoring average of 73.3 points per game against a Drexel defense allowing 62.8 points per game will determine both the outcome of this contest and the direction of the Southern Mississippi offense going forward.

Players to Watch

Drexel forward Rodney Williams: Williams averaged 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against the University of Southern California and Cornell University, including grabbing a career-high 14 boards against the Big Red. Williams still needs to work on making more of his shots at the rim, where he’s made just 53 percent of his attempts. But the sophomore is showing signs of the player he’s expected to be this year.

Southern Mississippi guard Matt Bingaya: Only a sophomore, Bingaya has become the leader of the offense in head coach Kenneth “Doc” Sadler’s first year. As the 6-foot-5-inch guard, Bingaya is averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds through the first four games of the season, shooting nearly 51 percent from the field, including 40 percent from behind the arc. His 25 points, four rebounds and three assists lifted the Golden Eagles over Troy in their last game.

Last Time Out

This year’s matchup is the conclusion of a home-and-home series between the two programs. The Dragons and Golden Eagles faced off in Hattiesburg, Mississippi last season. It was a three-point contest at halftime, but Southern Mississippi pulled away in the second half thanks to more than doubling Drexel’s rebounds and evenly spreading the ball on offense — no Golden Eagle took more than eight shots. The Golden Eagles won, 66-49. The loss was Drexel’s second of three straight, its longest losing streak of last season.