The East Carolina men’s basketball team will take on the four-time NCAA champion Connecticut Sunday with interim-coach Michael Perry making his season debut, after taking over for Jeff Lebo who is out indefinitely after having hip surgery this past weekend.
Perry has previous coaching experience, spending time at Georgia State from 2003-07 before taking the job as an ECU assistant.
ECU (9-10, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) comes into the game on a five-game losing streak, all to conference opponents, and will need a win against a struggling UConn team to get back on track. ECU will be without leading scorer B.J. Tyson for the second straight game after injuring his knee following an alley-oop versus Houston.
Tyson’s injury opens the door for freshmen guards Elijah Hughes and Jeremy Shepard, who were two of ECU’s bright spots in its last loss against Cincinnati.
In Hughes’ first career start, he scored 18 points, while Shepard came in off the bench and provided a serious spark, adding 13 points. They will have another great opportunity against UConn to earn much needed experience against a conference opponent.
The Pirates will need to get their big men more involved in this game against the Huskies, as ECU’s starting forward Deng Riak and starting center Andre Washington combined to score just two points in the loss to Cincinnati. To go along with the play on the interior, improvement must be made by the players on the perimeter, as ECU totaled just five assists against the Bearcats.
Although UConn has won four championships in its program’s history, and has been known throughout college basketball as a powerhouse over the years, this Huskies team has struggled. UConn (7-10, 2-3 AAC) has lost five of its last seven games and simply is not the team many college basketball fans are accustomed to seeing.
The Pirates cannot take the Huskies lightly, despite UConn’s struggles. The Pirates will have their hands full trying to stop sophomore guard Jalen Adams. Adams leads the team in both scoring, at 15.6 points per game, and in assists at 6.4 assists per game. Adams is also an efficient 3-point shooter at 37 percent on the season, an area that the Pirates have struggled defending in this season. They will also have to be aware of senior center Amida Brimah, who averages a solid 3.1 blocks to anchor the Huskies defense.
If the Pirates can spread out the floor and pick up the men on the perimeter they could shut down the Huskies’ scoring runs and force turnovers. ECU has been successful in many games this year when it produces turnovers, which it will need in order to win the game.