The Pirates will try to put a disappointing performance against Gardner-Webb this past Tuesday behind them and return to the same form that propelled them to victories over Pepperdine and Oregon State, and into the BCA Invitational Championship game.
A rejuvenated defensive effort will be necessary if the Pirates are to return to the win column. ECU has allowed its last two opponents to average 95 points per game and shot 52.8 percent from the field.
Sophomore Mike Cook leads the Pirates as they enter their home opener Sunday with 17.8 points per game, while senior Moussa Badiane is netting 13.3 points per game. Junior Corey Rouse, coming off his first career double-double, is one of a trio of Pirates averaging better than 5.5 rebounds per game with 6.8 boards a night. Mike Castro, a junior college transfer, leads the team in rebounding with seven rebounds per contest.
With four freshmen and one junior college player in its rotation, East Carolina is depending heavily on its young and inexperienced players. Freshmen Tom Hammonds and Josh King rank fourth and fifth on the team in scoring and are its leading three-point shooters.
Belmont-Abbey opened its season last week with a 71-65 win over NC Central. Four players scored double figures for the Crusaders led by Damien Humphrey's 22 points. Rafael Moreira added 17 points to the win, while Anthony Bell and Greg LaVann chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively. Belmont-Abbey is under the direction of first-year head coach Dale Kuhl.
This will be the 15th all-time meeting in the series between the two with East Carolina holding a 10-4 series advantage. Sunday's game will be the first since 1971.