Southern Miss Center Felipe Haase shoots a layup in the first half of an NCAA College Basketball game against Mobile at Reed Green Coliseum on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Gazebo Gazette

Backed by Felipe Haase’s 23-point performance on Saturday afternoon, the Southern Miss (23-4, 12-2 SBC) men’s basketball team picked up a 76-67 win over ULM (11-16, 7-7). The Golden Eagles moved to 14-0 at Reed Green Coliseum this season.

Southern Miss has now recorded at least 23 wins in its Division I era for the third time in program history and for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

The Golden Eagles are also just four wins away from producing the best turnaround story in NCAA Division I basketball history.

The Golden Eagles had to erase an eight-point ULM lead before it could claim their ninth-straight win. Haase got the offense going early as he drained a three-pointer on the first possession of the night.

Southern Miss then went on to drain five of its first eight shots heading into the under-16 media timeout. The only issue?  The Warhawks started just as hot, connecting on five of their first nine shots.

Jamari Blackmon gave ULM its first lead of the game at the 13:04 mark after a deep three-pointer. The lead didn’t last long as DeAndre Pinckney and Austin Crowley built the score back to a four-point Southern Miss advantage.

Unfortunately, former Pass Christian resident and Head Coach Jay Ladner’s squad squandered another lead and allowed ULM to climb ahead by eight points with 1:16 left in the first half.

The Golden Eagles, though, got timely production from Denijay Harris and Pinckney. The statement of the half came at the buzzer when Pinckney took a Crowley steal and unglued the Reed Green crowd with a massive dunk.

Pinckney’s jam cut it to a 33-31 ULM lead at the break and put a stamp on a 6-0 run to end the half. The Carol City, Fla. native finished with 10 first-half points. As a team, Southern Miss shot 44.4 percent from the field and connected on three of its 10 three-point attempts.

The Golden Eagles quickly erased the ULM lead in the second half and capitalized on a 12-0 run to make it a seven-point swing towards the home team. Just after that run, Pinckney flushed home a putback dunk off a missed Neftali Alvarez layup that nearly sent the roof down from the applause.

Things continued to go well for Southern Miss as it eventually built the lead to 11 with just under four minutes to play. The lead dwindled to six on a Tyreke Locure jumper, but that’s as close as ULM would get before falling by nine.

Southern Miss Point Guard Mo Arnold from Picayune finished with six points, but they were perhaps the biggest points of the afternoon. Arnold’s first three-pointer came trailing by five after halftime, then delivered another three-pointer one minute later to give Southern Miss a one-point lead. The latter three gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good.

Pinckney finished with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. He also drained a pair of triples. Haase and Arnold also had two three-pointers. For the second consecutive game, Southern Miss struggled on the offensive glass as ULM held a 10-4 advantage.

Harris had a productive night as the Columbus native finished with 12 points and four rebounds. Alvarez finished with nine points, while Crowley added another seven. Haase went 9-for-9 from the free throw line, including a pair down the stretch to ice the game.

Southern Miss now has three 23-win seasons during its Division I era (1986-87, 2011-12, 2022-23).  The Golden Eagles are 14-0 at home and trail only the 15-0 mark set during the 2011-12 season for the best home start in program history.

Southern Miss still holds sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt standings. It will travel to South Alabama on Thursday, Feb. 16 to take on the Jaguars at the Mitchell Center.

Game time from Mobile is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN+.