Men's Basketball Faces Road Test At USF Saturday Night


Men's Basketball Faces Road Test At USF Saturday Night

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    After rallying from a 10-point second half deficit to secure its first road win of the season Wednesday night against UAB, East Carolina will look to record back-to-back Conference USA road wins for the first time since joining the league when it faces USF at the Sun Dome in Tampa Saturday at 7 o'clock.

    Freshman Tom Hammonds netted 16 points, tying his career-high, to lead East Carolina back from a three-point halftime deficit. Junior Corey Rouse also finished in double figures with 12 points, while grabbing 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.

    Since beginning league play at 0-6, the Pirates have gone 3-3 during their last six games and enter Saturday night's game tied with USF for 12th place in Conference USA. Only the top 12 teams in the conference qualify for the league's postseason tournament.

    Saturday night's game will mark the final meeting between the two schools as Conference USA members. USF will be leaving C-USA at the end of the season to join the Big East Conference.

    The East Carolina-USF can be heard throughout the Carolinas and Virginia over the 19-station Pirate Sports Network and via the internet at Jeff Charles handles the play-by-play and Si Seymour provides the color analyst.

    The Coaches
    East Carolina Head Coach Bill Herrion is in his sixth season as the Pirates' head coach and his 14th overall. During his tenure, Herrion has amassed a career record of 236-166, and a 69-95 at ECU. USF Head Coach Robert McCullum is in his second year at the helm of the program and in his fifth year as a collegiate head coach. McCullum spent three seasons at Western Michigan prior to taking the USF post. McCullum has a career record of 61-78 overall and 17-33 at USF.

    The Series
    East Carolina leads the all-time series with USF 3-1. The Pirates suffered their first lost to the Bulls earlier this season in the C-USA opener for both teams, 63-62. ECU earned its first-ever C-USA road win at USF last season, 59-57, snapping a 20-game C-USA road losing streak.

    Herrion Moving Up ECU Wins List
    Sixth-year coach Bill Herrion earned his 69th win at the helm of the East Carolina basketball program Wednesday night against UAB, becoming just the fourth coach in school history to amass that many victories. Herrion's next victory would make him just the third coach in school history to win 70 games during his tenure along the ECU sidelines. Herrion is currently the third longest tenured coach in East Carolina basketball history. Howard Porter coached the Pirates for 12 seasons from 1947-59 and Tom Quinn held the reigns for eight years (1966-74).

    Only Conference USA Opponents Remain
    After Saturday's contest against USF, the Pirates will have completed competition against departing Conference USA members this season. East Carolina's three remaining opponents will remain in Conference USA next season (Houston, Southern Miss, Tulane). USF is among five Conference USA teams head to the Big East Conference in 2005-06 (Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, USF), while the league is also losing two members to the Atlantic 10 Conference (Charlotte, Saint Louis) and another to the Mountain West Conference (TCU). So far this season, ECU has played just three games against teams that will be returning to the league next season are have a 1-2 record against them. The Pirates split the season series with UAB and lost at Memphis by six.

    Rallying From Behind
    East Carolina's come-from-behind victory over UAB marked the third time in the last four games in which it has trailed at the half that ECU has won the game. The Pirates trailed the Blazers by three at intermission and by as many as 10 in the second half before winning by three. Against Saint Louis, ECU found itself down five at the break, but scored the first 12 points of the second half and never trailed again en route to a seven-point win. The win over Charlotte at home also proved dramatic as ECU, who trailed by four at halftime, rallied from an eight-point deficit with 11:40 remaining to win by three.

    Games Have Been Close And Competitive
    While its record may not reflect it, East Carolina has been very competitive this season. Eleven of its 24 games have been decided by six points or less, including seven decided by three points or less. The Pirates are 4-3 in games decided by three points or less, but 0-4 in games decided by four to six points. Four of its last six games have been decided by six points or less.