Previewing East Carolina

Former Tar Heel Jeff Lebo brings his East Carolina Pirates into the Smith Center again to face a UNC team still smarting from its loss to Iowa. Tip-off in Chapel Hill is 3 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (5-2) vs. East Carolina (4-4)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
Sunday, 3:00 p.m.
ESPNU (Mike Morgan, Cory Alexander)


“Offensively, we were just abysmal in the first half. I’m concerned about our 3-point shooting. I don’t know where we’re going to get consistent 3-point shooting on a nightly basis. We have not, besides one game, really shot the ball very well from the perimeter. We’re not going to be a real good inside scoring team. We have to be consistent making some shots from our guards on the perimeter. We haven’t had that to date.” - East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo following his team’s loss to Florida Atlantic this week


Season to Date: East Carolina enters Sunday’s contest with a 4-4 overall record. Oddly enough, Jeff Lebo’s fifth squad in Greensville does not have a streak – winning or losing – to its credit. The Pirates have alternated wins and losses, starting with a 99-81 win over N.C. Wesleyan on Nov. 14 and ending with 72-63 loss at Florida Atlantic on Wednesday.

Leading from the Bench: East Carolina’s leading scorer this season has yet to start a game. Freshman guard B.J. Tyson is averaging 16.0 points on 48.2 percent shooting in 24.9 minutes per game, which ranks fourth on the team. The Wadesboro, N.C. product earned American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week honors last week after a pair of 20-point performances. He scored 22 in ECU’s win over Fresno State before dropping 24 on Hawaii the following night. Tyson, who is 6-foot-3, enrolled at ECU last year but was not on the roster.

Sophomore Spurt: Lebo is hoping for big things this season from sophomore guard Caleb White following a strong showing in his rookie year. The 6-foot-7, 190-pounder scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in Wednesday’s loss to FAU. The Buckingham, Va. native ranks second on the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and is shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range. White has started 38 consecutive games and played in all 41 since he arrived on campus. He was second on the team in scoring as a freshman.

Searching for a Defensive Spark: Despite shooting a solid 46.7 percent from the floor (80th nationally), the Pirates have struggled to elevate their defensive play above mediocrity. East Carolina ranks 179th nationally in field goal percentage defense (42.2), T-173rd in steals (6.6) and 321st in blocked shots (1.8). According to, ECU is 310th in two-point field goal percentage and 307th in adjusted defensive efficiency (105.0), neither of which bode well against the Tar Heels.

Familiar Face: UNC fans might recognize junior guard Terry Whisnant from his days at Florida State. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder averaged 5.6 points per game as a Seminole during the 2012-13 season and played in the ACC Tournament championship game against the Tar Heels in 2012. Whisnant, who won A.P. N.C. Player of the Year honors in 2011, is averaging 11.5 points on 45.7 percent shooting in his first season playing for East Carolina.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels outlasted the Pirates, 93-87, at the Smith Center on Dec. 15, 2012. P.J Hairston led UNC with 18 points and Dexter Strickland turned in his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. ECU’s 61 second-half points were and still are the most allowed by a UNC team under Roy Williams.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with ECU, 3-0.

Projected Starters:
11 Antonio Robinson (6-4, 175, Sr.) - 3.0 ppg, 2.9 apg
0 Terry Whisnant (6-3, 180, Jr.) - 11.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg
2 Caleb White (6-7, 190, So.) - 14.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg
13 Michael Nzege (6-7, 215, So.) - 7.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
34 Michael Zangari (6-9, 230, Jr.) - 4.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
21 B.J. Tyson (6-3, 190, Fr.) - 16.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
5 Lance Tejada (6-2, 190, Fr.) - 7.6 ppg, 2.0 apg
44 Kanu Aja (6-9, 245, Jr.) - 3.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg ECU Info
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