ECU hopes momentum makes trip to Texas|Pirates to take on UTEP tonight

Published 10:45 pm Saturday, February 13, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — The Pirates will be looking to build on their 71-68 win over Tulane on Wednesday, but their chance two win two games in a row for only the second time this season looks dim as they travel to Texas to take on Conference USA leading UTEP tonight.
East Carolina has only won back-to-back games once this season, when it topped South Dakota State and UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 23 and 28, respectively.
On the flip side, UTEP (18-5, 9-1) heads into tonight’s matchup having won eight straight Conference USA games and is one win away from breaking the school record.
The Miners are led by six-foot scoring machine Randy Culpepper, who scored 18 points to lead his team to a 65-51 win over SMU in its last time out.
The junior is UTEP’s leading scorer, averaging a Conference USA fourth-best 16.4 points per game.
The prolific Culpepper is sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list, and is only 10 points away from passing NBA Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald for fifth place on the list.
The Pirates will no doubt have trouble defending Culpepper, but a tougher matchup for ECU may be point guard Julyan Stone.
The 6-6 junior has tremendous size advantage over ECU’s 5-11 point guard Brock Young, and is quicker than any forward the Pirates would try to defend him with, which creates a mismatch every time he gets the ball.
Stone is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game, as well as 5.3 assists, which is second in the conference only to Young.
The Miners also have two quality big men in 6-9 forward Derrick Caracter and 6-11 center Arnett Moultrie.
Caracter, a junior, is averaging 14 points per game, while Moultrie, a sophomore is posting 10.6 points per game, and a team-best seven rebounds a night.
Jeremy Williams, a 6-7 junior, is third on the team in scoring with a 11.1 points per game average.
UTEP’s height will be a big concern for East Carolina, who are led in the paint by 6-8 sophomore Darrius Morrow (12.7 ppg/6.8 rpg) and 6-10 junior Chad Wynn (7.9 ppg/5.3 rpg).
The Miners average 76.3 points per contest, third best in the league, while boasting a scoring margin of +12.5, which is second best in Conference USA.
The Pirates recently tweaked their offense to help Young from trying to do everything by himself as well as to cut back turnovers.
In ECU’s last game against Tulane, Young who entered the game with a .37 shooting percentage, turned in an impressive 5 for 10 night from the floor for a team-high 18 points and nine assists.
However, the Pirates still had 19 turnovers.
East Carolina’s assist ratio to turnover ratio is the worst in Conference USA as the team dishes out 11.8 assists a night, but turns the ball over 17 times a game.
The Pirates have committed 409 turnovers this season which is 84 more then any other team in the conference.