ECU Readies For Home Tilt Against No.6 Houston
Fresh off of an 85-81 win over Tulane, ECU faces perhaps their stiffest test of the season when (6)Houston rolls into town for a 7 o’clock encounter Wednesday night.
The Cougars enter the game at 26-1 including 13-1 in AAC play with their lone loss coming in a four point 73-69 loss to Temple on January 9.
It will be nineteen years and a day since the last time ECU defeated a Top 10 team. That was February 26, 2002 when the Pirates beat No. 9 Marquette led by Dwyane Wade and Coach Tom Crean in Williams Arena.
Joe Dooley talked about the chance it gives to ECU fans and students to see a quality top ten team at home.
“It’s a cool opportunity for our fans to see what a high level league that we’re in and the more I’ve watched Houston, they’re a final four calaber team,” Dooley told PirateIllustrated.com.
Dooley outlined what stands out to him when he examines what makes the Cougars tick.
“The one thing about it is when you look at them is their defensive stats. People are shooting .367 on the year. I think they’re number one in three-point field goal percentage defense,” said Dooley, “ That’s an amazing stat. They’re plus 7 on the backboard. They’ve got ten guys averaging double figure minutes so they’ve got a lot of bodies to throw at you.”
The Pirate head coach broke down what his team has to try to do in order put together a solid outing Wednesday night in Minges Coliseum.
“You obviously have to find a way to score and how do you get them off the three-point line. One thing they do is they’re versatile scoring. They can shoot it from the three-point line but they can also punish you by throwing it inside.”
Dooley said that his team may be able to benefit in transition offensively and by also being deliberate at times.
“Probably both. There are a lot of ways you can look at it. If Shawn can get a shot in transition, but here is what happens. If you don’t get a good shot early you might not get one late,” Dooley told PirateIllustrated.com, “If we have looks we try to do it, but if not we try to move them around but they’re just very solid defensively.”
With just four conference games remaining, Houston has won the last eleven straight games. They are led by 6-1, 190 senior guard Corey Davis, Jr. at 15.7 points a game along with 6-3 junior guard Armoni Brooks at 14.1 points to go along with 6.4 rebounds a contest.
They are helped by a six others who are averaging over six points a contest including 6-5 redshirt junior guard DeJon Jerreau at 8.3 points a game and Galen Robinson at nearly eight points a game. 6-5 guard freshman guard Nate Hinton and big 6-8, 260 pound senior forward Breaon Brady are in that group and they both also account for over four rebounds per contest.
For ECU to be competitive, they will have to hit an abundance of shots and find creative ways in the paint to both score points and get Houston in foul difficulty.
Houston currently has the best record in the country and come in ranked 6th in the coaches poll and 8th in this week’s Associated Press poll.
They are scoring 75.4 points a game while giving up just 60.3. The Cougars beat that same Tulane team ECU just beat by four by a score of 85-50 on February 17 and are coming off a 71-59 win over USF. Jarreau tossed in 17 points to lead Houston to go along with 15 more from Davis. 6-7, 230 forward Fabian White and and Nate Hinton added nine points each while Brooks pulled down seven boards in the win.
In ECU’s win over Tulane, Shawn Williams got hot and threw in 27 points to go along with a double-double of 20 points and ten rebounds from Isaac Fleming. Seth LeDay continues to settle in. He scored 14 points in the Pirates’ last outing to go along with seven rebounds. Jayden Gardner only played 28 minutes and despite a slow start, he ended up with 11 points with seven of them coming from the charity stripe.
“It’s exciting. All the guys’ first top ten team. You don’t get to do that a lot in your lifetime so that’s exciting. I know the fans will be excited and we’ll be all excited and pumped up and ready to go,” Gardner said.
“We’ve got to go out and execute and we’ve got to play like men," said Gardner, "They’re going to come in here and be aggressive and attack the glass and they’re going to try to have their way. We’re just going to have to respond and bounce back.”
Game time is Wednesday night at 7 o’clock in Minges Coliseum and can also be seen online on ESPN 3.