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Charlotte 49ers at Southern Miss, 2 p.m. Sunday, CBS Sports Network

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Charlotte 49ers look to solve Southern Miss on the road

HATTIESBURG, Miss. The Charlotte 49ers haven’t come to the most ideal spot to stop a Conference USA road losing streak that’s reached four games.

The 49ers (14-8, 5-4) on Sunday face Southern Mississippi (20-3, 7-1), which has won six straight and enjoys perhaps the league’s top home-court advantage at Reed Green Coliseum (2 p.m., CBS Sports Network).

“It’s a toughness and taking-care-of-the ball environment for us,” said 49ers coach Alan Major, whose team fell 64-63 at Tulane on Friday. “They thrive on their defense, and that ignites the crowd.”

Charlotte hasn’t won a road game since its C-USA opener Jan. 9 when it beat Texas-El Paso.

“I wish I had an answer,” Major said. “We didn’t have defensive traction in the first half (against Tulane). We’ve shown at times that we can have that.”

The 49ers fell behind the Green Wave by as many as 10 points in the first half. They rallied for a tie late in the game but were undone by a key turnover and then allowed an offensive rebound in the final seconds that sent Tulane’s Jay Hook to the free-throw line for the winning point.

“I can always tell our defensive energy by our voices on defense,” Major said. “In the second half, we had that voice and became much more active.”

Keeping the 49ers afloat has been their 4-0 league record at Halton Arena. Charlotte was in seventh place in C-USA entering Saturday’s games. All 16 of the league’s teams will play in the conference tournament March 11-15 in El Paso, with the top four earning a first-round bye. After Sunday’s game, the 49ers play four of their final regular-season games at home, where they are 9-2 overall.

“It really is a mentality,” 49ers guard Ben Cherry said of playing on the road. “It’s how you prepare, how much sleep you get, what you do when you wake up, how hard you work at shoot-around. We just can’t keep putting ourselves in these kinds of situations.”

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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