East Carolina (12-12) at U-C-F (18-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: BHSN, CSS. Home Record: ECU 9-6, UCF 13-1. Away Record: ECU 2-6, UCF 3-5. Neutral Record: ECU 1-0, UCF 2-1. Conference Record: ECU 3-8, UCF 7-4. Series Record: UCF leads, 12-5.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights take aim at their 14th home win of the season when they welcome the East Carolina Pirates to UCF Arena in Orlando for a Conference USA bout.
East Carolina is 12-12 on the season but has not found much success in C-USA action, as it is tied for 10th place with a 3-8 record. Following a six-game losing streak, the Pirates seemed to get back on track with three straight wins, but they have since dropped back-to-back games. They fell to Marshall in a 78-68 final last Saturday despite shooting 53.5 percent from the floor. The Pirates got a pair of double-doubles in the loss from Miguel Paul (19 points, 11 assists) and Robert Sampson (career-high 19 points, 10 rebounds), but they allowed the Thundering Herd to shoot 54 percent from the floor and drain 10 of their 20 three-point tries.
UCF is enjoying a very successful season with an 18-7 overall mark and a 7-4 record in conference, which has it just two games behind first-place Southern Miss. The Knights had an opportunity to gain ground on the Golden Eagles first hand last Saturday, but dropped a 78-74 decision. UCF shot an impressive 52.7 percent in the defeat but lost the battle on the boards, 32-24, and watched helplessly as Southern Miss converted 29-of-37 free throws. Isaiah Sykes continued his solid play of late, scoring a career-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting overall while also grabbing 10 boards for his second straight double- double.
UCF won the first meeting this season with ECU, 81-63, in Greenville on January 7, halting a four-game series winning streak by the Pirates. As a result, the Knights' lead in the all-time series increased to 12-5.
East Carolina's fourth-ranked offense (70.7 ppg) is led by Paul, who ranks third in the conference in scoring (16 ppg) and first in assists (5.8 apg) while connecting on 2.3 three-pointers per contest at a 37.1 percent clip. Forwards Darrius Morrow (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Maurice Kemp (10.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) provide solid a solid presence underneath the basket. East Carolina plays well on defense too, allowing opponents to score just 65 ppg, though in a conference filled with great defensive teams, it ranks just eighth. Its aggressive nature on defense results in the top figure in steals (8.1 spg) as well as a positive turnover margin (+1.62).
UCF's defense has been sharp all season long, as the team is giving up just 61.9 ppg on 41.2 percent field goal efficiency, both of which rank in the top- five in the conference. The Knights are mediocre on offense (66.7 ppg), but are highlighted by a few solid players as both Marcus Jordan (15.3 ppg) and Keith Clanton (15 ppg) rank in the top-10 in C-USA in scoring, with the latter also ranking fifth in rebounding with 8.8 rpg. Sykes tallies 12.2 ppg and 6.6 rpg, but has been especially good in the last four games, averaging 17.8 ppg and 8.8 rpg in that time. UCF owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+4.2) and turnovers (+0.48).
The Knights' incredible home record speaks for itself and it shouldn't have much of a problem defeating one of C-USA's worst teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 68, East Carolina 58
02/18 16:10:20 ET