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UTEP's road woes carry on in Hattiesburg

Things looked great early on, but another road loss was the end result.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

There have been some pretty low points in the 2015-16 season, but none lower than Thursday nights meltdown in Hattiesburg.

UTEP jumped out to an early 17-3 lead in the opening minutes, but turned it over 17 times in the game, and a sideline meltdown down the stretch inside the final forty seconds put an ugly stamp on a promising start which ended in a 71-58 Southern Miss. win.

It took Southern Miss. almost six and a half minutes to get on the board, meanwhile Lee Moore and Omega Harris each knocked down a three pointer to give UTEP an early 8-0 lead just three minutes into the game.

The Golden Eagles started 0-of-8 from the field, but UTEP went on a 4:26 scoring drought after Moore's three ball at the 17:16 mark of the first half which kept things at 8-0 Miners early on.

Despite the early drought, UTEP started 5-of-9 from behind the three point line led by Moore who hit a pair, but it was Trey Touchet who capped off the strong start with a triple that stretched the UTEP lead to 22-7 with 9:12 left until halftime.

But then UTEP went cold again, and lifeless for a stretch.

The Miners went scoreless for 4:36 after the Touchet three, and a string of three consecutive three pointers each from Michael Ramey, Robert Thomas III, and Quinton Campbell fueled a 9-0 USM run that cut the lead to 22-16 with just under five minutes left in the half.

Instead of putting the Golden Eagles away after USM turned it over eight times, and shot just 26.9 percent from the field in the first half.  UTEP turned it over eight times themselves and were out scored 19-8 in the final 9:12 of the half to hold a slim 30-26 halftime lead.

Hooper Vint gave UTEP 36-31 lead to open the second half, but the Miners had trouble guarding the perimeter and USM couldn't miss from deep.  VInt left the game late in the second half with an ankle injury.

USM started 4-of-6 from deep in the second half, and went on an 11-0 run during another three minute UTEP scoring drought with a three by Campbell putting USM up 42-36 at the 13:42 mark.

Lee Moore scored five points including a corner three pointer during a 7-0 run and put UTEP back in the lead 43-42 during a three minute Southern Miss. scoring drought.

That was the last lead UTEP held the rest of the way.

USM would go on a 16-3 run in a 6:32 span with another three pointer from Campbell capping off the spurt and giving the Golden Eagles a 58-46 lead at the under four minute media timeout.

Down 61-51 with 2:14 left, UTEP scored five straight with a three ball by Earvin Morris cutting the lead to 51-46 with 1:04 left and a small glimmer of hope for a miracle.

But things unraveled in an unthinkable way.

With UTEP trailing 63-58, Morris would be called for an intentional which gave USM free throws and possession, but Morris' foul wasn't the game sealing moment.

Tim Floyd would be hit with two technical disputing a sequence of calls going against the Miners before the technical on Morris.   Kahari Price knocked down six straight free throws as Floyd made his way up the tunnel, and the UTEP road woes carried on.

Lee Moore scored 18 points, and grabbed nine rebounds, Earvin Morris scored 13 points as the only other Miner to reach double figures.

UTEP scored on just 35.7 percent of their possessions, and shot 40 percent in the game, and 36.4 percent in the second half.

Southern Miss. had four reach double figures led by Kourtlin Jackson who scored 15 points. USM shot 23-of-29 from the free throw line, and shot just 33 percent from the field.

A team who had been struggling with putting the ball through the hoop, the Golden Eagles torched UTEP with 12 three pointers, seven of which came in the final half.

Poise, confidence, and individual struggles continue to plague UTEP on the road marking nine straight road losses in C-USA play, and a 3-5 record in conference play.

Next up is LA Tech in a Sunday matinee tilt on Fox Sports Networks.