Johnson, No. 8 Arizona down Southern MissDec 5, 2012 - 7:27 AM Tucson, AZ (Sports Network) - Nick Johnson scored a game-high 23 points as eighth-ranked Arizona rallied in the second half to top Southern Miss, 63-55, on Tuesday.
Kevin Parrom added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (6-0), who remained undefeated on the season.
"This game proved how tough we are," Parrom said. "They gave us problems early on, but we figured it out and got in the zone. It was a tough game, but I'm glad we pulled through and got the win."
Neil Watson paced Southern Miss (6-2) with 17 points and Michael Craig contributed 10 with seven rebounds in the Eagles' second straight loss.
Southern Miss held an early 10-3 advantage until Arizona reeled off a 12-2 run to go on top, 15-12, on Johnson's 3-pointer with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
But that would be the last lead the Wildcats would hold over the opening 20 minutes, as Southern Miss responded with a Norville Carey jumper followed by Rashard McGill's triple for a two-point edge.
It would remain a one-possession game from there until back-to-back field goals by McGill and Craig sparked a 16-9 run over the final five-plus minutes of the half to give the Eagles a 35-27 lead entering the break.
"We felt like we had the game in our hands and within our grasp, but coming into the second half we started getting loose," Watson admitted.
The second half, however, belonged to Arizona.
After Watson opened the frame with a jumper to give Southern Miss a double- digit lead, the Wildcats reeled off a 22-7 push to jump ahead, 49-44, at the midpoint of the second half.
The Eagles netted the next seven points to regain the lead, but they would then be held without a basket for nearly five minutes while Parrom and Solomon Hill each connected on a 3-pointer during a 10-0 spurt to put Arizona on top for good at 59-51.
Watson halted the drought with a jumper to get within 59-53 with a minute left, but Arizona was able to close out the game at the foul line to hang on for the win.
It was the first meeting between the teams since Dec. 30, 1954. Arizona leads the all-time series, 3-0 ... The Wildcats shot 45.2 percent from the floor in the game, while Southern Miss was held to 39 percent shooting ... Arizona turned the ball over 27 times ... The Eagles committed 22 turnovers.
- SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: 55
Dec 4 11:32 PM
- SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: 35
Dec 4 10:28 PM
- SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Dec 4 9:38 PM
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