ECU Visits Rice In Season's Only Meeting
Feb. 26, 2011
HOUSTON --- As East Carolina enters the final week of the regular season; it does so with an overall record of one game over .500 (14-13).
Keeping its record at or above that mark will be a challenge with the Pirates playing two their final three games on the road beginning Saturday night against Rice at Tudor Fieldhouse. The game will be televised regionally on CSS and throughout eastern North Carolina on WITN.
This is the only meeting of the year for the two teams, which met twice each of the previous four seasons.
ECU will look to secure a high seed in the first round of the 2011 Conference USA Tournament. A win over Rice would ensure that the Pirates finish at least eighth in the final regular season standings, their best finish ever. The Pirates began conference play at 5-4, but lost three in a row before knocking off first-place UTEP Wednesday night to earn a program-best sixth league victory. ECU has a two-game lead over Houston, Rice, and UCF for eighth-place.
The Pirates are coming off an 83-76 win over UTEP in which they shot 45 free throws, making 35. Senior Jamar Abrams scored a season-high 25 points, while Jontae Sherrod added 21 points, 15 from the charity stripe. And while the Pirates' play was overshadowed by the rants and ejections of UTEP coach Tim Floyd and one of his assistants, ECU built a 12-point second half lead and never allowed the offensive-minded Miners within more than four points.
ECU has won two C-USA road games this season, but is currently in the midst of a three-game road-losing streak. The Pirates defeated the Owls in Houston last season, 76-65, to record one of their three league road triumphs. They have won two of the last three meetings against the Owls in suburban Houston, but trail the overall series 5-4.
The two teams have played a combined total of 19 games that have been decided by six points or less with ECU compiling a 3-4 record in such games and Rice posting a 3-9 ledger.
Both the Pirates and Owls are 2-4 in their last six games with the Owls' most recent defeat coming after a frantic rally Wednesday night that saw them erase an 11-point deficit with two minutes to play to force overtime. Rice was outscored 19-9 in the extra period and fell to SMU by 10, 76-66.
Sophomore Tamir Jackson had 22 points in the overtime loss, while all-conference candidate Arsalan Kazemi was limited to just six points, well below his 15.3 per game average. Kazemi leads the league in rebounding (11.4 rpg) and is the only player to average a double-double this season. Kazemi had 23 total rebounds in two games against ECU last season.
ECU forward Darrius Morrow also had 23 rebounds in the two games last season and has averaged 12.3 points and 8.0 rebounds during his four-game career against the Owls. He scored 20 against them at Minges Coliseum a year ago.
Statistically, the two teams match-up evenly with both scoring in the high 60s and shooting just over 43 percent from the field. ECU has a higher 3-point shooting percentage than Rice, but the Owls have a higher percentage at the free throw line despite 57 fewer attempts.
Rice won the first three meetings in the series, all of which have occurred as C-USA foes, but East Carolina has taken four of the last six games.