LAFAYETTE – Kentrell Garnett and Themus Fulks each posted career-highs in scoring, combining to go 14-for-19 from the field, and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns opened the game with a 14-4 run and never trailed in earning a 75-61 Sun Belt Conference victory over Southern Miss on Thursday at the Cajundome.
With Louisiana’s top three scorers – Jordan Brown, Greg Williams, Jr., and Terence Lewis II –were held to a combined 8-for-24 from the floor, Garnett and Fulks picked up the slack as Louisiana (11-4, 1-2 Sun Belt) snapped a three-game losing streak which included a pair of close SBC setbacks on the road at Coastal Carolina and Old Dominion.
Garnett set career-highs in both points (20) and 3-pointers (6) for Louisiana while Fulks, the SBC leader and fifth in the nation in assists entering the game, added a career-best 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
Louisiana built a 37-23 lead at halftime highlighted by the first of two 3-pointers by Garnett in an 11-0 run as the Ragin’ Cajuns held USM (13-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) without a field goal for over seven minutes before Marcelo Perez’s layup with under a minute to play before intermission.
Garnett, who finished 6-for-8 from behind the 3-point line and became the first Ragin’ Cajuns player since Cedric Russell in 2021 to make six 3-pointers in a game, opened an 8-0 run early in the first half for Louisiana with his first triple of the night after USM’s Felipe Haase hit a pair of free throws with 16:29 remaining in the first half.
Williams followed with a long-range jumper for Louisiana before Brown’s two free throws pushed the lead to 14-4 with 14:58 remaining.
Haase, who was held to 3-for-10 from the floor, buried a 3-pointer with 8:31 left in the half to close to within 24-19 before USM would miss nine of its last 10 shots to finish 7-for-26 (26.9 percent) from the floor.
After USM got a pair of free throws by Donovan Ivory with 7:48 remaining in the first half, Garnett would open an 11-0 run for the Ragin’ Cajuns with a pair of 3-pointers before Joe Charles added a 3-pointer and Fulks scored on a layup to give Louisiana its largest lead of the game, 37-21, with 1:32 left in the half.
Austin Crowley, the sixth-leading scorer in the SBC (17.1), hit a pair of free throws with 5:05 remaining to help the Golden Eagles get as close as 58-51 with 5:05 remaining, but Fulks and Jalen Dalcourt would combine for four points apiece in a 13-6 run as Louisiana pulled away and improve to 6-0 at home.
Brown, the No. 2 scorer in the SBC, was limited to eight points for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Lewis finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Williams added eight points for Louisiana with Charles and Dalcourt each chipping in with seven points off the bench.
DeAndre Pinckney posted a double-double for USM with a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds. Felipe Haase added nine points for the Golden Eagles, who lost for just the second time in the last seven games.
Louisiana will close out its two-game homestand on Saturday when it entertains defending SBC champion Georgia State (8-7, 1-2 Sun Belt) in a 7 p.m. contest at the Cajundome.