POSTED: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 9:59pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 11:43pm
HATTIESBURG, MISS. – R.L. Horton scored 20 points, and D.J. Newbill had a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds, propelling Southern Miss to a 64-51 win over UTEP on Wednesday at Reed Green Coliseum.
Horton scored 12 points in the second half as the Golden Eagles (19-6, 8-4 C-USA) erased a 13-point deficit, holding the Miners (19-6, 7-3 C-USA) to three field goals over the final 15:39.
The loss knocked UTEP into second place in Conference USA, a half-game behind Memphis (20-6, 8-3), which beat UAB earlier in the evening. The Miners will host the Tigers on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.
UTEP will play four of its next five games at home, including hosting Houston on Saturday (7:05 p.m.) and UCF on Monday (11 a.m.).
Claude Britten scored a career-high 20 points for the Miners on Wednesday, hitting 10-of-11 shots. His last bucket, a dunk with 16:09 remaining, lifted UTEP into a 38-28 lead. A half-minute later, Randy Culpepper scored a three-point play to give the Miners their largest lead of the night, 41-28.
UTEP was outscored 36-10 after that.
Newbill’s three pointer with 15:25 left started a 23-4 run that ended with the Golden Eagles leading, 51-45, with 6:15 to play. After Julyan Stone’s driving layup cut the lead to 51-49 with 5:21 remaining, Southern Miss sealed the win with an 11-1 run.
UTEP’s top four scorers – Culpepper, Christian Polk, Jeremy Williams and Julyan Stone – were a combined 11-for-38 from the field. Culpepper joined Britten in double figures with 14 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
The Miners shot 50 percent in the first half, and opened the second period by hitting five of their first six shots before missing 15 of their last 18.
UTEP was outrebounded 37-28 and turned the ball over eight times in the final 14 minutes.
Gary Flowers scored 13 points and Angelo Johnson added 11 for the Golden Eagles, who shot 54.2 percent in the second half and 45.3 percent on the night.