<
>

UCF 52, Southern Miss. 41

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Dave Noel scored 17 points to lead Central Florida to a 52-41 win over Southern Mississippi on Tuesday in the Conference USA opener for both teams.

The Golden Knights (8-7, 1-0) pulled ahead early thanks to missed baskets by Southern Miss players, who managed to sink only two of their first 14 field goal attempts.

UCF jumped to a 19-8 lead on a 10-0 run that included five points from Noel.

The Golden Eagles (8-7, 0-1) have lost four straight games, and hit just 15 percent from the field in the first 18 minutes of the game Tuesday.

Jeremy Wise, who led Southern Miss with 14 points, scored seven straight to close out the first half and cut the Knights' lead to 20-15 at halftime.

But Central Florida opened the second half with a 10-5 run, including back to back 3-pointers from Noel and Mike O'Donnell, and the Golden Eagles never got any closer than seven after that.

Andre Stephens helped cut the Southern Miss deficit to 39-32 with 5:40 to play, but Central Florida's Jermaine Taylor hit a 3-pointer and a lay-up to secure the win.

Taylor added 13 points and eight rebounds for UCF and O'Donnell chipped in 10.