CCR Game Day: #10 SMU Mustangs (15-0) vs East Carolina Pirates (8-8)

Nic Moore and the SMU Mustangs will put their perfect record on the line on Wednesday night when they take on the East Carolina Pirates.
Nic Moore and the SMU Mustangs will put their perfect record on the line on Wednesday night when they take on the East Carolina Pirates.

The nationally-ranked SMU Mustangs (15-0) will put their undefeated season on the line again tonight against the East Carolina Pirates in a big American Athletic Conference showdown.

The Mustangs are coming off an 88-73 victory over the Central Florida Knights in their last outing. As for the Pirates, they are coming off a 78-60 loss to the Temple Owls on Saturday.

Maverick B. previews tonight’s game by looking at several key areas, including some projected starting lineups, role player match-ups to watch, and some background information on both teams and coaches that could be a big factor in tonight’s contest.

The game can be seen on ESPNNews tonight at 6:15pm ET! Scroll on down to take a look at College Court Report’s official SMU vs East Carolina preview.

Projected Starting Lineups

SMU Mustangs

G  Nic Moore (16.1ppg  2.3rpg  4.7rpg)

G  Sterling Brown  (9.3ppg  4.7rpg  72.9 FG%)

G  Shake Milton  (11.2ppg  3.0apg  42.1 3pt%)

F  Ben Moore   (13.1ppg  8.1rpg  57.0 FG%)

F  Jordan Tolbert (12.6ppg  9.7rpg  1.5bpg)


East Carolina

G  Prince Williams (7.3 ppg, 4.0 apg, 38.8% FG)

G  B.J. Tyson (14.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 31.6% 3PT)

G Caleb White (13.7 ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.3apg, 40.7% 3PT)

F  Clarence Williams (4.0ppg, 3.4 rpg, 52.9% FG, 75.0% FT)

F  Kanu Aja (3.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 50.0% FG)


Role Player Match-Ups to Watch

Marcus Kennedy (SMU) vs Michel Nzege (East Carolina)

– Marcus Kennedy has been a solid role player for SMU, now playing in his third season with the Mustangs. The 2016 Karl Malone Watch List recipient is averaging 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 54.4% from the field so far this season. Kennedy, who stands at 6’9” and 245 pounds, will look to find holes in the Pirates’ zone defense to score. But, he also has the ability to stretch the floor and score from the outside as well.

– Michel Nzege has been one of the best forwards the Pirates have had in Jeff Lebo’s tenure after transferring in from Winston-Salem State. Nzege has started in 38 games out of 51 games in his career for the Pirates and brings his European style of play to the Pirates, which has been a welcome addition. Nzege possess soft touch around the basket, high basketball I.Q., and the ability to make plays without the ball. He also brings a lot of passion and energy to the court when he plays and his production reflects that. Nzege is currently averaging 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 56.4% from the field and a dazzling 90% from the free throw line.

The biggest role player match-up in tonight's game will be SMU F Markus Kennedy versus ECU F Michel Nzege. SMU Photo Source (Cooper Neill/Getty Images) ECU Photo Source (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)
The biggest role player match-up in tonight’s game will be SMU F Markus Kennedy versus ECU F Michel Nzege.
SMU Photo Source (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
ECU Photo Source
(Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)

Jarrey Foster (SMU) vs Charles Foster (East Carolina)

– Jarrey Foster, a 6’5”, 200-pound freshman guard, has a skill set that most AAC freshmen guards wish they have. Looking at his film, his skill set consists of having the ability to finish around the rim despite contact, explosiveness to get to the paint, efficient shooting, and high defensive I.Q. To this point in the season, Foster is averaging 5.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists, while shooting 45.7% from the field and 37.5% from behind the arc in only 17.0 minutes per game for the Mustangs. The Pirates will need to force him into tough shots and limit his touches in the paint.

– Charles Foster hasn’t received a lot of minutes so far this season for the Pirates (77 total in 12 games). However, he has the offensive and defensive skills that brought him from Vincennes University to Greenville. So far this season, Foster has shown his ability to make the three-point basket, setting an early career-high of five made 3’s in a 98-71 win over South Carolina State earlier this season. He is currently shooting 41.2% from three point range this season. He also has the ability to not turn the ball over at a high rate, only committing 10 turnovers to this point in the season.  Defensively, Foster can guard his opponent and hardly commits a foul, only having committed 5 fouls this season in the combined 12 games he has appeared in.

Charles Foster ranks second on the Pirates in three point percentage this season. Will Foster see an expanded role tonight? Source:(Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)
Charles Foster ranks second on the Pirates in three point percentage this season. Will Foster see an expanded role tonight? (Source: Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)

Did you Know??

  • SMU head coach Larry Brown coached East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo during Lebo’s stint on the 1989-1990 San Antonio Spurs.
  • SMU is (7-4) all-time versus East Carolina
  • East Carolina is (2-2) inside of Minges Coliseum versus SMU
  • SMU currently holds a 2-0 record in AAC play against the Pirates.
  • SMU and East Carolina have combined to make 206 three-pointers this season.
  • East Carolina’s last win against SMU came on February 23rd, 2013 (at SMU)
  • East Carolina’s last home win against SMU came back on February 1st, 2011

Coach’s Corner

Larry Brown, SMU Mustangs

  • 75-34 (32-20 in C-USA & American Athletic Conference)
  • Recent post-season appearances include: 2013 NIT (Runner-Up) & 2014 NCAA Tournament (Round of 64)
  • 7 NCAA Tournament appearances (1 National Championship)
Mark Graham, Dallas Observer
Despite not being eligible for post-season play this season, Larry Brown has the SMU Mustangs playing some hih-calibre basketball. (Source: Mark Graham, Dallas Observer)

Jeff Lebo, East Carolina Pirates 

  • 95-87, (33-51 in C-USA & American Athletic Conference)
  • Three CIT appearances (won 2013 CIT Championship)
  • Two conference records with a winning percentage of .500 or better
    Jeff Lebo and the East Carolina Pirates are looking to recreate the magic they expeirenced during their run to the 2013 CIT Championship. (Source: AP Photo/Deseret News, Scott G Winterton)
    Jeff Lebo and the East Carolina Pirates are looking to recreate the magic they expeirenced during their run to the 2013 CIT Championship. (Source: AP Photo/Deseret News, Scott G Winterton)

     

Score Prediction:  SMU 81   East Carolina 57