ECU to host Confernce USA king Memphis
Published 12:23 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009
By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — East Carolina flew into Texas desperately needing a split during its two-game road trip in which it battled Houston and SMU, and did just that when it topped the Mustangs 80-74 on Saturday.
The victory not only boosted morale, but snapped a three-game losing streak, which could have very easily turned into a five game skid had they lost to SMU, as Memphis looms next for the Pirates.
East Carolina will play another big game tonight when it hosts Conference USA leading Memphis (16-3, 5-0) at 7 p.m.
Aside from playing a hard-fought, 40-minute game against the Mustangs, another encouraging sign was the play of the program’s two cornerstones Brock Young and Darrius Morrow.
Young, the nation’s leader in assists with eight per game, did a really good job of helping the Pirates restore the balance in the offense that helped them get off to an 8-1 start.
The sophomore point guard finished the game with 16 points, 11 assists and most importantly zero turnovers.
ECU had four players hit double figures in scoring in James Legan (14), Jamar Abrams (14), Sam Hinnant (12) and Darrius Morrow who netted a career-high 21 points to lead all scorers.
Morrow was another player doing his job on Saturday, and his progression this season has earned the 6-8 freshman a shot at the starting job.
McCarthy said on Monday that he has gone to a three-man rotation for the center and power forward positions between Morrow, Abrams and Chad Wynn.
McCarthy said that Morrow has potential to have a game like he did against the Mustangs on any given night.
Abrams and Wynn will get the starting nod in the post tonight against the Tigers, and they, along with the rest of the Pirates will have their hands full against an athletic Memphis squad.
Last year, led by freshman point guard Derrick Rose who went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Tiger finished second in the nation as their dribble-drive offense was all the rage in college hoops.
That squad also featured NBA draftees Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey.
This year, Memphis is getting it done with another potential one-and-doner in freshman sensation Tyreke Evans, but the Tigers are doing it with defense.
Memphis is tops in just about every defensive statistical category in Conference USA. John Calapari’s crew is No. 2 in points allowed (60.7), No. 1 in scoring margin (plus 15), No. 1 in blocks (6.3) and No. 1 in steals (9.6).
The Pirates’ biggest challenge will be stopping the athletic, 6-7 Evans, who leads the Tigers with 18 points per game, and leads C-USA with 2.58 steals per game.
McCarthy said that when they go to man, the duty of covering Evans will depend on who else is on the court for the Tigers. However, look for Young and Abrams to get a good portion of that duty, and possible freshman Chris Turner.
Aside from Evans, Memphis has gotten a strong season out of veterans Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson.
Dozier, the 6-9 senior forward is averaging 11 points per game, while Anderson, a senior guard leads the team in assists with four a night.
Junior forward/center Shawn Taggert leads Memphis in rebounding with nearly seven a game.