HATTIESBURG, Miss. - University of Denver men's basketball sophomore forward Royce O'Neale (Killeen, Texas) scored a career-high 22 points, including five three-pointers, but the Pioneers fell 61-50 to Southern Mississippi at Reed Green Coliseum on Tuesday night.
"Our last three games have been very similar. We need to make our first shot, execute early and grab leads," head coach Joe Scott said. "Southern Miss did that, and that was a big difference in the game. We need to continue to develop our identity and keep playing hard, as we figure out our shooting woes."
O'Neale and senior guard Chase Hallam (Mesquite, Texas) both added a team-best six rebounds for Denver (1-4), while junior forward Chris Udofia (Irving, Texas) set a career-high with five steals and blocked three shots.
However, USM guard Dwayne Davis matched O'Neale's 22 points, sparking the Golden Eagles, who (6-0) shot 50.0 percent (19-of-38) from the field and 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from three-point range. Southern Miss, which went 25-9 last season and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, also hit 19-of-24 free throws in the contest.
Trailing by as many as 20 points late in the game, the Pioneers pulled to within nine points with 61 seconds left, but the Golden Eagles held on with free throws down the stretch.
Denver struggled through the first half, shooting just 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from the field and 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from three-point range. Southern Miss hit 47.4 percent (9-of-19), including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Despite the offensive challenges and 10 turnovers in the first half, the Pioneers pulled to within three points at 20-17 with 1:12 remaining, but USM guard Jerrold Brooks hit a pair of three-pointers before the break to give the Golden Eagles a 23-15 lead.
The Pioneers remain on the road, traveling to Stanford on Dec. 2 for a 3 p.m. MT tip. The game will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network.
Individual game tickets are on sale now with prices starting at $9 for adults. DU Students get into the game for free with their Pioneer Card.
Visit denverpioneers.com for complete coverage of all DU's Division I athletic programs.
--EXPERIENCE DENVER ATHLETICS-
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