At this point last season, the East Carolina Pirates were 8-10 overall, and 1-4 in AAC play, and suffered a 66-64 loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane after falling 77-54 to the SMU Mustangs.
Fast forward one year, the Pirates enter Tuesday with an 8-10 record overall, and are 0-5 in conference play, and are coming off a 79-55 loss to SMU two games ago.
Maverick B. previews tonight’s game by looking at several key areas, including some projected starting lineups, factors to that improve each team’s chances, and some background information on both teams and coaches that could be a big factor in tonight’s contest.
Today’s game can be seen on ESPNNews with tip-off at 7:00pm ET! Scroll on down to take a look at College Court Report’s official Tulsa @ East Carolina preview!
Maverick’s Scouting Report on Tulsa
The Golden Hurricane enter tonight’s game with an 11-6 record overall, and are 3-2 in American Athletic Conference play. They are looking looking for their fourth straight conference win tonight over East Carolina.
Offensively, Tulsa’s have a trio of guards leading the way;
- James Woodard: 16.5 points, 4.9 rebounds per game; 42% 3PT
- Shaquille Harrison: 16.4 points, 3.4 assists per game; 47.2% FG
- Pat Birt: 8.7 points, 3.4 rebounds per game; 67.6% FT
Senior guard James Woodard is a player that East Carolina’s guards will need to keep their eyes on all game. In his career, Woodard has only had 20 games where he has not scored double-digit points in a game.
Woodard is one of the best three point shooters not only on Tulsa’s roster, but in the American Athletic Conference as a whole. In his career, Woodard has made 231 three pointers with a career percentage of 36.4%. In fact, this season Woodard has eight games where he has made three or more three pointers.
In the front court for Tulsa, look for senior forward D’Andre Wright to have a strong performance. The 6’9”, 245-pound forward from Lawton, Oklahoma, is averaging 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game this season. Wright will need a breakout performance tonight since he is only averaging 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest in his last four conference games, shooting a dismal 25% from the floor over that time. In the four-game stretch, Wright has had two scoreless games (Cincinnati, Connecticut).
Coming off the bench, Tulsa will have the services of senior guard Marquel Curtis (6.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.4 apg; 44.3% FG) and senior forward Brandon Swannegan (5.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg; 50.8% FG).
Three Factors that Improve Tulsa’s Chances
1) Score over 70 points tonight vs East Carolina
- East Carolina is 0-7 when their opponent scores over 70 points.
2) Shot blocking and steal ability favors the Golden Hurricane
- Tulsa = 122 Steals, 48 Blocked Shots
- East Carolina = 105 Steals, 38 Blocked Shots
3) Tulsa has outperformed East Carolina through the first 5 games
- Tulsa’s Conference Production: 64.4 ppg, 63.6 oppg
- East Carolina’s Conference Production: 59 ppg, 74.4 oppg
Projected Starting Lineup
G Pat Birt (Junior, 6’5”, 182 pounds)
G James Woodard (Senior, 6’3”, 192 pounds)
G Shaquille Harrison (Senior, 6’4”, 189 pounds)
F Rashad Smith (Senior, 6’7”, 205 pounds)
F D’Andre Wright (Senior, 6’9”, 245 pounds)
Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith
- 2nd year with the Golden Hurricane after coming from Missouri
- Record at Tulsa: 31-17 overall; 14-4 in American Athletic Conference
- 1 post-season appearance at Tulsa: 2014 NIT (2nd Round)
- Has been to a post-season tournament in 7 of his 11 years as a head coach.
- 3-0 against East Carolina in his career.
Maverick’s Scouting Report on East Carolina
The East Carolina Pirates enter tonight’s game with an 8-10 record overall, and are 0-5 in American Athletic Conference play. They are looking looking for their first regular-season conference victory since a 71-66 win over the Central Florida Knights back on February 28, 2015.
Offensively, The Pirates have an experienced trio leading the way:
- B.J. Tyson: 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds per game; 43.6% FG
- Caleb White: 14.1 points, 2.3 assists per game; 40.9% 3PT
- Prince Williams: 7.0 points, 3.9 rebounds per game; 67.6% FT
Coming off the bench, East Carolina will have the services of a couple of skilled guards and forwards. At the guard position, look for Lance Tejada, Kentrell Barkley, and Charles Foster to play solid minutes. At the forward position, look for Michel Nzege and Grant Bryant to get solid minutes.
Tejada is the Pirates’ backup point guard behind Prince Williams, and is having a strong start to his sophomore season. Tejada enters tonight’s game averaging 4.0 points, 1.6 assists and just 1.1 turnovers per game, while shooting 24.5% from three point range. Though he doesn’t light up the scoreboard with points, he is a team player by recording assists (28 this season), and is a strong defender (14 steals).
As for Kentrell Barkley, he has been a spark plug for the Pirates off the bench in his first season. The 6’5”, 205-pound guard from Durham, N.C. has been a stat sheet filler in more ways than you can count, from rebounds to assists to points to blocks. Barkley enters tonight’s game averaging 9.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 46.8% fro mthe floor.
The final guard to watch is Vincennes University transfer Charles Foster, who can stretch the floor and score from the outside and inside. Foster, a 6’0”, 160-pound junior guard is shooting 35.0% from three point range this season. He connected on a career-high 5 three-pointers in a 98-71 win over the South Carolina State Bulldogs earlier this season, and shot 71.4% from the floor in a 71-60 win over the North Carolina A&T Aggies. Foster will need to come into the game tonight and knock down his shots.
Michel Nzege is a skilled forward who brings a lot of passion for the game of basketball when he is on the court. Nzege has shown flashes of great play this season, like when he scored 21 points (9-of-11 shooting) in an earlier season victory over Charlotte. Nzege missed some time earlier this season with an ankle injury. At this point in the season, Nzege is averaging 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 57.1% from the floor. Nzege will need to score 10 points and pull down 6 rebounds to give the Pirates a strong chance to score a win over Tulsa.
Grant Bryant has been one of Jeff Lebo’s hardest working player in practice this season, and is on the verge of a break out game this season for the Pirates. Bryant has shown some brief flashes of his talents and knowledge of the offense by scoring 12 points on 75% shooting in only 20 mins in East Carolina’s 74-48 win over the Florida Atlantic Owls earlier this season. Standing at 6’7”, Bryant has the ability to play multiple forward positions and could be a spark plug for the Pirates tonight.
Three Factors that Improve the Pirates’ Chances
1) B.J. Tyson and Caleb White both need to have strong games
- Tyson and White rank as the 3rd highest scoring AAC duo this year.
2) Get to the free throw line
- East Carolina shoots 71.7% from the free throw line as a team, while Tulsa makes 66.0% of their attempts.
3) Score 70 or more points tonight
- Under Jeff Lebo, East Carolina has been very impressive when they score 70 or more points. The Pirates are 74-19 when they top the 70-point mark.
Projected Starting Lineup
G Prince Williams (Senior, 6’5”, 200 pounds)
G B.J. Tyson (Senior, 6’3”, 180 pounds)
F Caleb White (Junior, 6’7”, 205 pounds)
F Clarence Williams (Junior, 6’8”, 195 pounds)
F Kanu Aja (Senior, 6’9”, 255 pounds)
East Carolina Head Coach Jeff Lebo
- 6th year with the Pirates
- Record at East Carolina: 95-90 overall; 33-54 in American Athletic Conference
- 3 post-season appearances at East Carolina; all 3 in the CIT
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