March 13, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- R.L. Horton scored 18 points, including 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch, to lead Southern Mississippi to a 68-62 victory over UCF in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament Thursday night.
Horton's free throws offset a second-half performance by Jermaine Taylor of UCF, who had 20 of his 25 points, including five 3-pointers, in the second half.
The Golden Eagles (19-13) will play the tournament's top seed in No. 2 Memphis, which defeated Tulane 75-56 earlier Thursday evening. It marks the first time Southern Mississippi has reached a conference semifinal since 1998.
The victory capped a day when three of the four higher seeds eliminated the top seeds -- No. 2 UAB, No. 3 Houston and finally No. 4 UCF. Only Memphis, playing on its own court, survived the day of upsets.
It was the third straight loss for UCF ( 16-15 ).
Sai'Quon Stone finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Eagles, while Jeremy Wise and Craig Craft contributed 11 points apiece.
Dave Noel finished with 20 points for the Knights.
Southern Mississippi maintained a 5- to 9-point lead through much of the second half, and the Golden Eagles were up 56-47 with 5:11 left matching their biggest lead of the game.
But Taylor did everything he could to keep UCF within striking distance, hitting a trio of consecutive 3-pointers. However, the Knights were never able to get closer than four points the rest of the way.