Pirates Host UTEP

East Carolina men's basketball team returns home to Minges tomorrow night Saturday Jan. 26 to face the University of Texas at El Paso Miners in another conference battle.

Last game the Pirates picked up a big conference win on the road at UAB; showing fans they have the ability to start fast and finish strong away from Minges. The Pirates got out to an early 10-2 lead and with the help of career nights from multiple players proved to be too much for UAB.

Getting this win moved ECU to 3-2 in conference and completed a milestone; 1,000 wins in program history. Another thing this win did for the Pirates was end an ugly five game road losing streak. With their road skid finally over, the team can return to their home court with confidence, ready to take on another strong conference opponent.

I've said it all season long; home is where the Pirates like to play. It's obvious the team struggles on the road; they are a strong 10-1 at Minges but a sub-par 2-5 on the road.

UTEP is tied for third in the C-USA standings with a 3-1 record. The Miners are coming off of a home win against conference opponent SMU; who they beat with a score of 63-54 despite being outscored 26-12 in the paint. The Pirates can capitalize on this Miner's weakness by attacking the paint with Armstrong early and then kicking it out to Richmond to hit from behind the arc.

The last time these teams met UTEP beat ECU by a score of 70-56 in a home win. This season the Pirates are leading C-USA in scoring, averaging 78.2 points a game and are looking to get redemption against this Miner team. UTEP has held opponents to an average of 53.9 points in the last seven games; so this should prove to be a good match-up between two strong units.

If the Pirates are going to win this game they will need scoring production from multiple players. It starts with Maurice Kemp; if he gets off to a fast start the Pirates could turn this into a scoring fest. Another key player for the Pirates will be junior guard Akeem Richmond. A transfer from Rhode Island, Richmond has a C-USA leading 44% 3-pt field goal percentage. Don't be surprised if Bowden throws up a couple of treys, after having a quite last game.

Final Thoughts

East Carolina has a chance to string together a pair of conference wins for the second time this season. The UTEP Miners will show up to Minges tomorrow night focused and ready to play. The Pirates need to build an early lead and finish the game strong using their offensive firepower. Tip-off at Minges will be at 7 p.m. (barring any changes due to inclement weather). Follow @InsideECUSports on Twitter for live updates.

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