GAME NOTES: Coming off their first Conference USA victory of the season, the East Carolina Pirates will try to make it two in a row tonight when they host the Texas-El Paso Miners at Williams Arena.
ECU put an end to its six-game losing streak last weekend with a 74-67 win at UAB. However, the Pirates have lost their last four at Williams Arena, and are still in search of their first home win of 2014.
Meanwhile, UTEP has won each of its last six contests, the most recent of which was a 68-57 triumph versus Rice last Saturday. The Miners enter this tilt tied for first place in the conference standings (6-1) with Southern Miss.
UTEP leads the head-to-head series, 6-2, and that includes a 68-67 win over the Pirates last January in Greenville on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by John Bohannon, who is averaging 13.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season.
Miners guard C.J. Cooper (12.7 ppg) scored all 17 of his points in the second half of last Saturday's comeback win over Rice. After shooting a dismal 30.8 percent from the floor in the first half and trailing by nine with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation, UTEP closed out the game on a 30-10 run to earn the victory. Julian Washburn (14.6 ppg) shared team-high scoring honors as he also tallied 17 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Vince Hunter (15.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg) logged 14 points and nine boards. Defense continues to be the name of the game for the Miners, who have held opponents to a league-best 38 percent shooting effort. They have held their own at the offensive end, also, as they own the highest field goal percentage in league games (.475).
Whereas UTEP possesses the requisite size to bang around with most foes in the paint, the Pirates are more of a perimeter-oriented team with their four-guard lineup. Senior Akeem Richmond is five 3-pointers away from breaking his own school record for most threes in a season (105). He is shooting at a 39 percent clip from beyond the arc and leads the team with 18.2 ppg. Paris Campbell (13.5 ppg) and Caleb White (12.6 ppg) are also averaging double figures. The Pirates made good on 9-of-22 3-point tries against UAB to snap their six-game slide, and four of those triples came at the start of the second half as they opened up a 13-point lead. Campbell posted a team-high 21 points and eight boards, while White and Richmond scored 17 and 13 points, respectively.
While the Miners have the clear edge on paper, they must be careful not to let ECU sink a few early threes to get the home crowd into it.
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