GAME NOTES: First-year Conference USA member Florida Atlantic welcomes the East Carolina Pirates to FAU Arena on Thursday for a league matchup.
Ever since a season-best four-game winning streak, East Carolina has lost three of its last four outings. Most recently, the Pirates were dealt an 81-70 home loss by Old Dominion in their C-USA opener this past Saturday. Following this tilt, they'll head to Miami on Saturday to take on another league newcomer, FIU.
Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic is hosting its first C-USA game as a league member tonight. The Owls split their first league road trip as they lost at Louisiana Tech last Thursday (84-64) before taking down Rice on Saturday (73-68). This contest marks the first of three straight home games for the Owls.
These teams have met once before, as ECU earned a 74-60 win over the Owls during the 1992-93 season.
ECU's Paris Roberts-Campbell was on fire early on in Saturday's matchup with ODU as he went into the locker room with 19 first-half points. However, Roberts-Campbell went on to score only two points the rest of the way due to persistent leg cramps that caused him to miss a chunk of the second half. Akeem Richmond was second on the team with 14 points, although it was an off night by his standards as he connected on only 4-of-11 attempts from beyond the arc. Richmond (19.6 ppg) is the conference scoring leader and he continues to lead the NCAA in 3-point field goals per game with 4.69. He has made four or more in each of the last four games. Still, as they learned in that loss to ODU, the Pirates cannot simply stand around and wait for Richmond to sink threes.
Whereas ECU can turn to C-USA's top scorer, FAU boasts the league's second- leading scorer in Pablo Bertone (18.6 ppg). However, while Richmond is one of four double-digit scorers on his squad, Jackson Trapp (10.3 ppg) is the only other player averaging double figures for the Owls. Junior forward Justin Raffington has come on strong of late with double-doubles in each of his last four games. He was instrumental in the win at Rice with 11 points and a game- high 12 rebounds. Bertone tallied 20 points and seven assists in that contest, while Marquan Botley scored 19 and Trapp finished with 14 points. FAU forced 16 turnovers and also held a key 21-13 scoring advantage from the foul line in the game.
Fans of offense will be interested to see the conference's top two scorers pitted against one another. These teams do share a similar opponent in Duke; the Owls lost by 33 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, while the Pirates were dealt a nine-point road loss in the NIT Regional Final.
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