GAME NOTES: One day after setting a new league record with 11 makes on 19 attempts from beyond the arc, senior guard Akeem Richmond will lead the 12th seeded East Carolina Pirates as they take on the tournament hosting Texas-El Paso Miners in the second round of the Conference USA Championship.
The winner of this game will advance to face No. 4 Southern Miss on Thursday.
The Pirates are playing in their final C-USA Tournament as they are set to join the American Athletic Conference this summer. ECU appeared to be destined for a first round exit as it went into the intermission of its first round bout with No. 13 Texas-San Antonio facing a 47-38 deficit, but Richmond poured in six 3-point field goals in the second stanza to help the team escape with a 79-76 victory. The old single-game record was 10, by three different players and the old C-USA Championship record was 8, held by two players. The Pirates are 4-0 at neutral sites in 2013-14.
The Miners finished just one game back of the four-way tie atop the C-USA standings, but have to like their odds as the fifth seed since the tourney is being played in their home arena. The last time the C-USA Tournament was held in El-Paso, UTEP lost to Memphis in the 2011 title game. Coach Tim Floyd's team went 13-5 at the Don Haskins Center during the regular season, with only three of those losses coming in league play. The Miners are not known as an offensive juggernaut, however they found success by holding their opponents to only 63.2 ppg and 28.8 percent shooting from 3-point range.
ECU experienced UTEP's stifling defense on Feb. 6, when the Miners defeated the Pirates, 58-47, at Minges Coliseum in Greenville. The victory improved UTEP to 9-2 all-time versus the Pirates. In the loss to the Miners, ECU made only 8- of-28 attempts from inside the 3-point line and allowed UTEP to sink 22 of its 33 two-point field goal tries.
Richmond's 36-point outburst versus UTSA put an exclamation point on what has been a remarkable senior campaign. The explosive shooting guard averages a team-high 18.5 ppg and ranks first nationally with 4.68 makes from beyond the arc per tilt. Richmond also broke the C-USA USA single-season record for 3- pointers on Tuesday as he arrived at a total of 150, breaking Houston's Robert McKiver's old record of 145 set in 2007-08. Rookie forward Caleb White (12.8 ppg) scored only nine points before fouling out, but became the first freshman in over a decade to net over 400 points in season for ECU. Paris Roberts- Campbell (11.8 ppg, 1.7 spg) contributed 20 points in the win. The Pirates got off to a terrible start due to poor defensive play. The Roadrunners shot 65.4 percent from the floor and led by as many as 18 in the first half.
The Miners had to overcome some controversy in January when three players, including leading scorer McKenzie Moore, were dismissed from the team for gambling. UTEP still has four players with double-digit scoring averages, led by junior swingman Julian Washburn (12.7 ppg) and freshman forward Vince Hunter (12.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg). Senior center John Bohannon is one of the premier big men in the conference and contributes 11.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 1.7 bpg, while junior C.J. Cooper tallies 10.1 ppg and 2.8 apg.
The Pirates are pacing the C-USA in both made 3-pointers per game (8.4) and 3-point field-goal percentage (.365), however they were limited to just 62.8 ppg during league action. ECU will not get nearly as many open looks from the perimeter as it did on Tuesday. UTEP is one of the tallest teams in the nation and its size advantage played a decisive role in its matchup with ECU last month. A team that relies on the 3-point shot as much as ECU is not likely to succeed playing on back-to-back days as fatigue is sure to set in and hinder its accuracy.
Game Date and Time