GAME NOTES: Seeking their first conference win of the season, the East Carolina Panthers host the Tulane Green Wave in Conference USA action on Thursday night.
Last Saturday night, the Green Wave took down Rice at home, 58-41. Tulane has now won two of its last three, but has not been able to get on any kind of a roll, having alternated wins and losses over the last month.
East Carolina was not so fortunate last Saturday, falling to FIU on the road, 68-64. That was the third straight loss for the Pirates, and fifth in their last six games.
Tulane owns a narrow 9-7 series lead, but East Carolina has won the last five meetings.
Tulane's Jay Hook scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the victory over Rice, Louis Dabney netted 12 points and snatched a team-high four steals, and Tre Drye pulled down 10 rebounds. Tulane shot just 33.3 percent from the floor in the first half, but still took a 28-14 lead into the half thanks to 19.2 percent shooting for Rice in the frame. The Green Wave cruised to victory in the second half behind a 46.2 percent shooting effort, which included a 5- of-13 effort from 3-point range, while holding the Owls to 40 percent shooting from the field in the period.
Tulane has been getting outscored by its opponents this season, as it shoots just 41.5 percent from the field for 66.8 ppg, while allowing 71.4 ppg on 44.9 percent shooting. Where it lacks in field goal efficiency it is able to make up for at the free-throw line, as it shoots 72.5 percent from the stripe and has drained 106 more free throws than its opponents. Dabney leads the way with 17.5 ppg, while Jonathan Stark (15.5 ppg) and Hook (14.5 ppg) have both been outstanding from beyond the arc, as the duo has combined for 64 3-pointers at greater than a 43-percent clip. Dye has been the leader on the boards, pulling down 6.8 rpg.
In the loss to FIU, Paris Roberts-Campbell led the Pirates with 15 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, while Michael Zangari scored 14, Caleb White netted 11 and Antonio Robinson poured in 10. In a tightly-played contest, the Panthers went up for good midway through the second half. The Pirates got within one possession of the lead several times, but they missed their final six field goal attempts. Sloppy play cost the Pirates, as they committed 14 turnovers which FIU converted into 20 points.
The Pirates have been the second-best scoring team in C-USA this season, netting 81.6 ppg and shooting 46.5 percent from the floor, also good for second in the league. Akeem Richmond is the go-to guy for the squad, netting a league-best 19.1 ppg and finishing in double figures in all but one game this season. Joining Richmond are Roberts-Campbell (12.8 ppg) White (11.8 ppg) and Zangari(10.0 ppg). White is the more efficient scorer, netting 54 percent from the floor, while Campbell shoots just 37.8 percent.
After being held under double figures for the first time all season, expect Richmond to bounce back and help the Pirates snap their three-game skid and grab their sixth straight victory over the Green Wave in the process.
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