The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Minges Coliseum (8,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: Appalachian St. 1-1, East Carolina 3-0. Away Record: Appalachian St. 0-1, East Carolina 0-0. Neutral Record: Appalachian St. 0-0, East Carolina 0-0. Conference Record: Appalachian St. 0-0, East Carolina 0-0. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 34-27.
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates conclude a season-opening four-game homestand on Tuesday when they welcome the Appalachian State Mountaineers to Minges Coliseum.
Former North Carolina Tar Heel Jeff Lebo is in his third season at the helm of ECU. The Pirates have opened this season with three straight victories at home. The first two came in impressive fashion with blowouts of both Washington & Lee (72-50) and Methodist (87-51). However, ECU was taken to task and given all it could handle last time out, surviving a showdown with UNC Greensboro, 76-73.
Much like East Carolina, ASU is under the direction of a former Tar Heel in Jason Capel, whose third season in Boone hasn't exactly gotten off to a rousing start. The Mountaineers opened 2012-13 with an 86-54 rout of Montreat, but have since lost back-to-back games, getting blown out at home against High Point (86-64) and then again on the road at Campbell (101-82).
East Carolina holds a 34-27 lead in the series with Appalachian State. The two teams have split the last six meetings, with ECU earning a 67-47 victory last year, after the series had a 10-year hiatus.
The problem that Appalachian State has had in the early going isn't scoring, as the team comes into this contest at a healthy 77.3 ppg. The real culprit has been a lack of defensive tenacity, with foes averaging a hefty 80.3 ppg, on a ridiculous 54.7 percent shooting. Through three games, ASU features four players with double-digit scoring averages, led by Tab Hamilton's 13.7 ppg. Jay Canty (12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) has been solid both in the scoring column and on the boards. Tevin Baskin (12.0 ppg) has come off the bench and been productive, while Nathan Healy (10.0 ppg) has given the team another perimeter threat.
In the loss to Campbell, ASU allowed the Camels to score 55 first half points and trailed by 16 points at the break. The team was unable to climb out of the hole, despite some serious scoring balance. Healy, Hamilton and Baskin all poured in 18 points in the setback, while Jamaal Trice came off the bench to tally 14.
The Pirates showed their resolve in the win over UNCG, rallying back from a 14-point deficit and using a 24-8 run in the second half to earn a three-point win and remain unbeaten on the season. Miguel Paul led the way offensively with a game-high 24 points. Maurice Kemp added a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Akeem Richmond, who was held scoreless in the first half, erupted for 14 second-half points to ignite the team. Marshall Guilmette rounded out the top scorers for ECU with 10 points.
Paul's presence on the court was certainly a shot in the arm for ESU, as he did not play in the first two games of the season due to a suspension. The Missouri transfer is the second-leading returning scorer in the CUSA (15.2 ppg last year) If the season-opener is any indication, he has no signs of rust from the layoff and should provide plenty of firepower along the perimeter. Kemp (18.7 ppg) will join him to give the Pirates a potent one-two punch that will be hard to counter. Guilmette (10.7 ppg) and Richmond (10.7 ppg) have done all their damage off the bench thus far.
The Mountaineers have not done much at the defensive end and that doesn't bode well for them, considering the offensive proficiency of both Paul and Kemp in the early going.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 79, Appalachian State 70
11/20 10:42:50 ET