Tulane To Battle ECU for Spot In C-USA Tourney

If Tulane wins on Saturday, it will play in the first round of the C-USA Tournament on Wednesday at a time to be determined. The tournament is being played at the FedEx Forum, which opened this year and houses the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA as well as the University of Memphis

NEW ORLEANS, La. – While it is not officially a tournament game, Tulane's men's basketball match-up with East Carolina on Saturday night at Fogelman Arena should feature a playoff atmosphere as the two teams are battling for the 12th and final spot in next week's Conference USA Tournament in Memphis.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE. Anyone who purchases a ticket to Saturday afternoon's baseball game between the No. 1 Green Wave and Marist will be eligible to receive a free ticket to the basketball game that night.

"This is basically the first round of the tournament," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "If we win Saturday, we advance to Wednesday. If we lose, we stay home. We're treating it like a tournament game and we really need to be focused."

In addition to the postseason implications of the game, it will be Senior Day for the Green Wave as Ben Benfield, Marcus Kinzer and Ivan Pjevcevic play in the final home game of their careers. The trio has combined to play in 290 games with 1,426 points, 581 rebounds, 415 assists and 201 three-pointers (in 565 attempts for 35.6 percent shooting).

"Senior Day is always an emotional time for everybody," Finney said. "These guys have put in a lot of time and effort to this program. They have all meant a lot; Ivan has been with me since day one and he has really matured as a person. Marcus has really grown as well and he has had a great senior year; it is just unfortunate he has had his injury. And Ben is playing his best basketball right now, we need his ability to shoot and play hard."

Tulane has struggled through a grueling stretch of five games against teams all likely to advance to the postseason this year. Four of the teams, Memphis, Charlotte, UAB and Cincinnati qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. The combined record of Tulane's last five opponents is 97-43 (.693).

"This has been a tough stretch," Finney said. "But in a league like Conference USA, there aren't going to be easy games. Saturday is going to be another battle, East Carolina needs the win as bad as we do and they are going to come in here and play as hard as they can."

Tulane is led by junior center Quincy Davis, who has scored in double figures for seven straight games. He is averaging 13.7 points per game while shooting 62.4 percent from the field, the op mark in Conference USA. Freshman guard Taylor Rochestie is averaging 10.7 points per game and ranks 10th all-time at Tulane in freshman scoring. Also scoring in double figures with 10.3 points per game is senior guard Marcus Kinzer, who has been hampered by injuries for the past six weeks. The veteran from Nashville has a team-best 104 assists and has played 70 minutes in the last two games, despite injuries to his ankle and hamstring.

East Carolina comes to New Orleans looking to lift head coach Bill Herrion to the C-USA Tournament in his final season. It was announced last week that Herrion would not return as the Pirates coach in 2005-06. ECU has won two of its last four games, but dropped a 76-72 decision at home to Houston in its last game last Saturday. Sophomore guard Mike Cook leads the Pirates with 14.9 points per game, while senior center Moussa Badiane has 12.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and a league-best 2.81 blocks per game. Junior forward Corey Rouse averages a double-double with 10.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

If Tulane wins on Saturday, it will play in the first round of the C-USA Tournament on Wednesday at a time to be determined. The tournament is being played at the FedEx Forum, which opened this year and houses the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA as well as the University of Memphis.


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