ECU matches up against UABPublished 12:10pm Friday, January 31, 2014
The ECU men’s basketball team continues to plug away at what is shaping up to be a disaster season.
After losing six-straight games for the first time in two years, the Pirates hit the road to take on conference foe University of Alabama-Birmingham (14-6, 3-3 C-USA) at 3 p.m on Saturday.
The Blazers will bring a dynamic offense that averages 76 points per game, as well as the nation’s best rebounding game (47 per) to the table. Considering the Pirates’ severe defensive struggles of late, Head Coach Jeff Lebo’s team is likely in for a long night.
Chad Frazier, who is arguably the best pure scorer in the C-USA, is the catalyst behind UAB’s offensive success. The 6-foot-4 junior is averaging 18.2 points per game, second in the conference to only ECU’s Akeem Richmond, and shooting 43 percent from the field. Frazier and Florida Atlantic senior Pablo Bertone have currently separated themselves from the pack competing for the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Player of the Year Award.
Containing the perimeter shooting of Frazier is going to be key in muffling UAB’s offense, but Saturday’s game will rely on the ECU big men, freshman Brandan Stith and sophomore Michael Zangari, and their ability out-rebound all four Blazers’ forwards averaging more than 6.7 rebounds per game a piece.
As always, much of the offensive output for the Pirates will fall on the shoulders of Richmond. While the senior guard leads the conference in scoring and the nation in three-point baskets, he is shooting just 39 percent from the field and is having trouble sharing the basketball, averaging just 1.8 assists per game.
The Pirates are in desperate need of a conference win to boost morale and build momentum heading into the second half of conference play.