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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: BOK Center (17,093) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: CBS Sports Network. Home Record: Tulsa 9-5, ECU 13-4. Away Record: Tulsa 6-7, ECU 5-7. Neutral Record: Tulsa 1-2, ECU 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 8-8, ECU 9-7. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 9-2.
GAME NOTES: The fourth-seeded East Carolina Pirates begin their quest for their first-ever Conference USA Tournament Championship as they take on the fifth-seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the quarterfinals at the BOK Center on Thursday.
Danny Manning's Golden Hurricane (16-14, 8-8) exceeded expectations this season as the first-year head coach's squad was projected to finish closer to the cellar of the standings. Tulsa doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but it is a solid team across the board. The Golden Hurricane took down Rice, 77-71, on Saturday to mark their second win in three games.
In the victory over the Owls, Scottie Haralson and D'Andre Wright each finished with 15 points. Pat Swilling Jr. added 14 points and James Woodard posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Tulsa dominated the boards, outrebounding Rice 38-26. The Golden Hurricane finished with a 21-9 scoring advantage at the free-throw line. Woodard paces the group with 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per tilt while Swilling, Jr's 10.8 ppg and 41.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc plays a vital role.
Although Tulsa owns a sizeable, 9-2, all-time series lead versus ECU, the Pirates won the only meeting of the 2012-13 season on Feb. 20 by a score of 72-63 in Tulsa. The winner will advance to play the victor of the Memphis Tigers and Tulane Green Wave matchup.
Jeff Lebo's Pirates (18-11, 9-7) are going to be very difficult to slow down as they are an offensive juggernaut with 77.2 ppg on 17.3 apg. ECU won four of its final five games to conclude the regular season, including an 86-79 decision over Marshall on Saturday. Its best performance of the season came in a loss, as it fell by just six points to the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.
A few different Pirates made their mark in the win over the Herd. Miguel Paul registered a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists while Maurice Kemp pumped in 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field. Akeem Richmond came off the bench to knock down 4-of-10 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points and Ty Armstrong netted 13 points. ECU shot 52.2 percent from the field and was aggressive enough to earn quite a few trips to the charity stripe, where it finished 28-of-39. Kemp delivered an all-conference caliber season with 18.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Paul is statistically one of the best in the Conference-USA with 13.1 points and 6.9 assists per outing and Robert Sampson's nine rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest indicates ECU is not too friendly on the inside.
Manning's first-year produced a surprisingly decent effort from Tulsa. The former Kansas Jayhawk will try to provide more surprises as his team plays in its hometown throughout the tourney, but Paul and company may be a little too much to handle in this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 75, Tulsa 70
03/14 10:39:35 ET
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