East Carolina hosts South Florida in AAC clash

NCAA Basketball

Both teams will be coming off disappointing performances when East Carolina hosts South Florida in an American Athletic Conference matchup Saturday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.

After a 10-point win over Tulane 11 days earlier, the Pirates (7-2, 1-2 AAC) dropped a 60-56 decision in the rematch on the Green Wave’s court last weekend. South Florida (6-5, 2-3), meantime, lost for the first time at home with their midweek 61-51 setback to conference co-leader Tulsa (7-3, 4-1).

The Pirates ran their record at home to 6-0 with their win over Tulane on Dec. 22, but they committed a season-high 21 turnovers and shot only 37 percent from the field in the rematch in New Orleans.

“I was very disappointed with the way we played,” East Carolina coach Joe Dooley said. “We’ve got to do a better job of preparing these guys. That being said, when you’re minus-16 from the free throw line and minus-14 in the (points off) turnover game, that puts you minus-30.

“I’m amazed we were still in the game and able to hang around, to tell you the truth.”

The Bulls also had shooting and turnover problems in their loss to Tulsa, shooting only 32.7 percent from the field while turning the ball over 15 times. The Golden Hurricane’s 9-0 start to the second half put the Bulls in an 11-point hole, and the Bulls were able to cut that to only six points in the remaining time.

After Justin Brown missed an open 3-pointer that could have made it a three-point game, the Golden Hurricane went on a 7-0 run to build a 53-40 cushion.

On the bright side for the Bulls, sophomore Jamir Chaplin scored a career-high 16 points. But three of their top four scorers — David Collins, Alexis Yetna, and Brown — were scoreless until Yetna made a layup with 2:49 left in the game. Yetna finished with four points. Collins and Brown were scoreless. The trio was averaging a combined 34 points per game entering the contest.

Bulls coach Brian Gregory lamented his team’s lack of consistency and cohesion in the defeat. “We’re going to have to keep fighting to get there,” he said after the game.

–Field Level Media

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