The University of Southern Mississippi could be on the verge of a special basketball season.
The Golden Eagles have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991. That USM team was awarded an 11th seed and played one game, which they lost to North Carolina State. Southern Miss has not been back to the tournament in 20 years.
This week the Golden Eagles are 20-3 and have reached a new high. USM had not beaten Conference USA rival Memphis since 2004.
The Tigers have won 18 straight games against Southern Miss. USM's tournament hopes are strengthened by defeating the team that has been the class of C-USA.
Helping the Golden Eagles achieve this goal is former Wingfield High School star Maurice Bolden. While at Wingfield, he led the Falcons to a third place finish in the class 5A playoffs and played in the Mississippi All-Star Game.
Bolden averaged 18 points with 12 rebounds his senior year at Wingfield High School, and MagnoliaPreps.com rated Bolden the 18th best player in Mississippi.
In his senior season at USM, Bolden leads the Golden Eagles in rebounds with 6.1 rebounds per game. Bolden also averages 10.6 points, 1.1 assists and 1.3 blocks a contest.
Southern Miss got their biggest win of the season yesterday, defeating Memphis 75-72 in Hattiesburg. Bolden scored eight points with two big three-point shots before running into foul trouble.
Against South Alabama, Bolden had one of best all-around games this season. He scored 18 points and filled the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, four blocks and two assists.
Southern Miss is not a team built from stars. USM is a team that needs effort each night from their players. Bolden is providing that effort this season.