Smith leads team to another big win
By Jake McKim
Daily Cougar Staff
Behind a career night for senior guard Dominic Smith, the Cougars wore
down a feisty Southern Miss team to secure a hard-fought 74-66 victory
Wednesday at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar
Senior guard Dominic Smith fires up a fade-away jump shot.
Smith had 38 points against Southern Mississippi Wednesday night.
It was a night when Smith was unconscious from the floor, shooting
two-for-two from three-point land, 18-for-20 from the free throw line and
nine-for-12 overall for an eye-popping 38 points.
"Today was just an emotional game," Smith said. "We needed this one
so we could get ready to play Memphis (on Saturday), who's the best
team in our division right now."
After the game, UH head coach Ray McCallum deflected attention away
from his coaching performance and insisted the focus stay on Smith's
"Dominic really kept us in the game," McCallum said. "He's the littlest
guy on the floor but he finished and made plays. Dominic did a great job
attacking. He really shot the ball with a lot of confidence. I felt
like every one was going in."
The praise for his 5-10 floor general didn't stop there.
"No. 1 played a near perfect game tonight and I'm really proud of him,"
With the important conference win, the Cougars moved to 11-7 overall,
4-2 in Conference USA and stayed tied for second in C-USA's National
Division. Southern Miss dropped to 6-10, 1-5 in C-USA.
The game was a thrilling, too-close-for-comfort war with the two teams
trading leads like the Indians and Pilgrims. The score was 34-33 at
halftime, 43-43 with 14:45 remaining, 50-50 with 8:33 left, and 55-53
with six minutes and 10 seconds to go in the game.
It was at that point that the Cougars seemed to say "enough is enough"
and went on to build as much as a 10-point lead before settling for the
In addition to Smith's heroics, C-USA Player of the Week Louis Truscott
scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double
of the season. It was a good thing Smith had the night he had, because
no other Cougar scored in double figures.
But Smith was reluctant to take all the credit for the team's victory.
"It was a team effort," Smith said. "Kevin (Gaines, who finished with
seven assists) is probably one of the best point guards as far as driving
the lane and creating shots, so he just makes my job easy."
Elvin Mims, who came in averaging over 19 points a game, was the Golden
Eagles' leading scorer with 14 points, with Ben Lambert and Carey
Rigsby adding 12 points apiece for a Southern Miss team that played
smothering defense but failed to generate enough offense.
Southern Miss head coach James Green, who stayed infuriated with the
referees for most of the contest, pointed to two problems his team
continues to have.
"We just absolutely foul too much and we don't know how to get to the
free-throw line," Green said.
The game was delayed for 20 minutes in the first half after the clocks
malfunctioned. Power was never restored to the clocks on the tops of the
goals and mobile clocks were set in place on the sidelines for the
It was one more odd note to a night that couldn't have been more special
for Smith and the Cougars, who have now won four straight and are
out-playing most fans' wildest expectations.