Pirates Host Streaking Golden Eagles

East Carolina (11-8, 0-4 Conference-USA), still in search of its first conference win, hosts a streaking Southern Miss (17-3, 4-1 C-USA) squad.

East Carolina (11-8, 0-4 Conference-USA), still in search of its first conference win, looks to halt a four-game losing streak as Southern Miss (17-3, 4-1 C-USA) visits Minges Coliseum.

Looking at each side is looking at completely different stories. The Pirates have lost four straight and six of their last seven while the Golden Eagles have won three in a row and eight of their last nine.

ECU and Southern Miss contrast in a lot of ways, actually. ECU's 80.1 points per game is enough for second-best scoring offense in the league. On the other hand, Southern Miss boasts C-USA's top defense. The Golden Eagles 63.2 points per game.

ECU's offense has struggled since entering conference play, though. The Pirates haven't broken the 70-point barrier against a C-USA team. Each of their last three games has seen them record a new season-low offensive output: 67 versus Florida Atlantic, 64 against Florida International and 54 against Tulane on Thursday.

Southern Miss and ECU are very similar in one regard, though. The Golden Eagles are first in the conference in field goal percentage (46.6 percent) and the Pirates are right behind them in third place (46.0 percent).

Once again, though, that isn't indicative of ECU's sub-par performance in conference play. The Pirates have been shooting below the 40-percent mark against C-USA opponents. They shot 36 percent from the field against Tulane. To put it in perspective, ECU's has shot better than 36 percent from the three-point line this season.

Part of Thursday's poor shooting display included only making four of 20 shots from behind the arc. All four of those treys came from leading scorer Akeem Richmond.

Along with Richmond's 18.8 points per game, Paris Roberts-Campbell and Caleb White also average over 10 points a game. Michael Zangari, who has taken more scoring responsibility as of late, is right on the cusp with 9.9 points per game. The Golden Eagles also have three scorers averaging over 10 points a game, but their leading scorer, Neil Watson, is only scoring 12.4 a game.

The Pirates are doing their best with the limited personnel they have. After suffering a head injury last week at FIU, Brandan Stith's status remains questionable. He was dressed to play on Thursday but never checked in. At 6'3", junior walk-on Francis Edosomwan played back-up center against Tulane and did a remarkable job.

"Uyi…what kind of effort he gave us," said head coach Jeff Lebo after Thursday's contest. "In his minutes out there, playing the five as a walk-on, he was terrific. He almost led us in rebounding in seven minutes."

Despite being undersized, ECU has still led the rebounding battle in two of its last four games. The Pirates will struggle to get boards against Southern Miss, though. ECU only has two players that are at least 6'7". Southern Miss has five—one of which is 6'10" Ude Ifeanyichukwu.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Minges Coliseum. The game can be found on the Pirates IMG Network, WITN and live updates on Twitter at @InsideECUSports.


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