East Carolina (9-4) at Memphis (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FedEx Forum (18,400) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television: FSN-SO, SportsSouth. Home Record: ECU 8-1, Memphis 8-1. Away Record: ECU 1-3, Memphis 1-0. Neutral Record: ECU 0-0, Memphis 1-2. Conference Record: ECU 0-0, Memphis 0-0. Series Record: Memphis leads, 12-1.
GAME NOTES: As the curtain opens on Conference USA action, the Pirates of East Carolina are set to invade FedEx Forum to tangle with the Memphis Tigers.
East Carolina brings a 9-4 overall record into Wednesday's league opener. The Pirates won five straight to open the 2012-13 season, but are 4-4 since, including 1-3 in road games. The duo of Maurice Kemp (18.1 ppg) and Miguel Paul (12.1 ppg) pace the Pirates offense. Robert Sampson leads ECU on the glass with 9.0 rpg, while Kemp is second at 8.8 rpg. Paul leads the team with 54 assists, averaging 4.9 per game, while Akeem Richmond is the squad's top 3- point threat at 42.9 percent. The Pirates are shooting 45.8 percent from the floor overall, 31.8 percent from beyond the arc and 67.8 percent from the charity stripe. East Carolina is out-rebounding its opponents by an average of +2.5 boards per game (39.0-36.5). The Pirates lead C-USA in assists per game (18.0) and average the third-fewest turnovers (12.6). The Pirates have the league's second-best scoring offense (79.2) and fifth-best field goal percentage (45.8).
ECU finished its non-conference schedule with nine victories, equaling its non-conference win total of a year ago. The Pirates had their second 90-point game of the year and seventh 80-point game in their recent win over NC Wesleyan (91-60). ECU went over 80 points in a game nine times in the previous two seasons combined. Kemp became the first Pirate in nearly three years to lead his team in points (19), rebounds (10), assists (6) and steals (3). Kemp recorded his sixth double-double of the season and established a career-high for assists. The Pirates distributed over 20 assists for the fourth straight game. East Carolina scored a season-high 33 points off turnovers.
With a win over East Carolina, the Tigers would make Conference USA history. Memphis will post its 200th C-USA victory, becoming the first school in league history to reach that milestone. The Tigers enter Wednesday's game with a 199-65 all-time Conference USA record. Memphis is at or near the top of a multitude of C-USA statistical categories, including scoring offense (74.8 ppg) and second in field goal percentage (.478), first in blocked shots (5.5 bpg), third in assists (15.8 apg), second in steals (10 spg), second in turnover margin (+2.1) third in assist/turnover ratio.
Joe Jackson leads a balanced attack, dropping in 13.7 ppg, one of the Tigers averaging in double figures. Joining him are Geron Johnson (11.1 ppg), Tarik Black (10.9 ppg) and Adonis Thomas (10.7 ppg).
This has been a decidedly one-sided rivalry over the years. The Tigers are a near perfect 12-1 versus the Pirates and have never lost to them at home. Memphis easily took both meetings last season, winning 70-59 in Greenville and then 70-47 in Memphis. The Pirates' sole win in the series came in Greenville on March 2, 2011 (68-57).
Memphis has owned this series and while the Pirates have had a successful start to the season, the Tigers simply have too many weapons and they play very well at home. Although it won't be easy, expect Memphis to continue their dominance over East Carolina by notching a solid win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 71, East Carolina 64
01/09 10:37:09 ET