Jan. 10, 2014
SETTING THE SCENE
East Carolina opens up Conference USA play against longtime rival and new league member Old Dominion on Saturday at 7 p.m. It's the first of two meetings between the schools this season.
The Pirates are looking to win their conference opener for the first time since 2009.
Pirate freshman Brandan Stith will be on an opposing bench from his father, Bryant, for the first time. The elder Stith, the all-time leading scorer at Virginia and NBA veteran, is in his first year as an assistant coach at Old Dominion.
The Pirates and Monarchs are at opposite ends of the spectrum in a pair of C-USA statistical categories. ECU ranks second in the league in scoring (84.5) and free throw percentage (.720), while Old Dominion in last in both categories (65.4, .587).
ECU's Akeem Richmond (20.0 ppg) and Old Dominion's Aaron Bacote (18.6 ppg) ranks one and two in Conference USA in scoring.
ECU and ODU shared a pair of common non-conference opponents this season: Georgia State and UNC Wilmington. Both teams lost to Georgia State, while the Monarchs defeated the Seahawks and the Pirates fell to them by two.
East Carolina won its final two Conference USA home games last season and compiled a 5-3 league mark inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates are 13-11 in C-USA home games the last three seasons.
Senior Akeem Richmond has scored 20-plus points in each of the last three games and in four of the past five contests. His 37 points against Campbell (and Fayetteville State) last time out are the most by a Conference USA player this season.
After posting its second-lowest 3-point shooting performance (.258) of the season against Georgia State, the Pirates shot a season-high 56.5 percent behind the arc against Campbell.
ECU hasn't used more than seven players in four consecutive games. The last time more than seven players made it on the floor for the Pirates was Dec. 14 against N.C. A&T when 10 players got in the game.
Old Dominion leads the all-time series 36-14 and has won each of the last four meetings in the series. The Monarchs have won six of the last seven games in the series.
ECU is looking to snap a three-game home losing streak to ODU. The Pirates last victory over the Monarchs inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum was Jan. 17, 2001 (68-63 OT).
LAST TIME WE MET
Dimitri Batten scored 18 points to lead Old Dominion past East Carolina 63-58 on Nov. 29, 2011. Batten is the only current member of the Monarchs to play in the game.
Three players scored doubles figures for ECU (Shamarr Bowden 14, Darrius Morrow 11, Miguel Paul 10), but none of them are still on the roster. Junior Paris Roberts-Campbell had nine points in the game.
The Monarchs outshot East Carolina 42.3 percent (22-of-52) to 33.3 percent (19-of-57). The Pirates finished night 8-of-27 from behind the arc (.296) and just 12-of-22 at the free throw line (.545). The Monarchs posted similar numbers, connecting on a mere 22.2 percent of their 3-point attempts (4-of-18) and just 51.7 percent of their foul shots (15-of-29).
MORE ECU-ODU CONNECTIONS
ODU Head Coach Jeff Jones was a four-year letterman at the University of Virginia under ECU Athletics Director Emeritus from 1978-82.
ECU freshman Greg Alexander and ODU sophomore Martin Shaw were teammates for one season at Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Va.
Pirate rookie Caleb White was coached by former Virginia guard Curtis Staples, who played for current ODU coach Jeff Jones at UVA from 1994-98.
There are a total of nine players from Virginia on the two rosters: Old Dominion (6) and ECU (3).
ECU IN CONFERENCE USA OPENERS
The Pirates are 2-10 all-time in Conference USA openers. Their wins came against then-No. 13 Marquette (73-70, 12/30/02) and Tulane (69-66, 1/7/09).
Saturday will mark the first time ECU has opened league play at home since 2009. The previous four years, the Pirates opened conference action on the road at UAB, Memphis, Southern Miss and Memphis again.
East Carolina is 2-4 when play its first C-USA game of the year at home.
The Pirates played a ranked opponent five times in their Conference USA opener, posting a 1-4 record. Memphis was ranked three of the four times ECU opened the year against the Tigers.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Pirates will make their first road trip of the conference season next week to Florida. East Carolina will play at Florida Atlantic on Thursday before heading to FIU on Saturday. ECU has never faced FIU and has played FAU just once previously, recording a 74-60 win at Minges Coliseum on Jan. 21, 1993.