The East Carolina University men’s basketball team is looking for its third win this weekend, as the team travels to Atlanta, Georgia to face Georgia Tech University in the Pirates first game on the road this season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and the game will be available on the ACC Network, as well as broadcast on WNCT 107.9 FM.
The Pirates (2-1) are coming off an overtime win over Lamar University on Sunday, helped by a breakout performance by freshman forward Jayden Gardner who notched 30 points and 10 rebounds, becoming only the third freshman in program history to have a 30-point game. Despite his great performance against Lamar, Gardner doesn’t feel extra pressure moving forward and is excited to take on his first ACC opponent.
“I’ve just got to keep going out playing my game and trusting my coaches and teammates and trusting our game plan and keep executing,” Gardner said. “It’s another game, but I’m excited to play my first ACC school.”
The Pirates will face a Yellow Jacket team (1-1) who is coming off a loss in a tough matchup with No. 5 ranked University of Tennessee. The 66-53 loss displayed how stingy the Yellow Jacket defense can be and how the team can deal with tough opponents. Head coach Joe Dooley watched the game Tuesday and learned a few things about Tech.
“They played a really good Tennessee team and didn’t shoot the ball very well which gave them some problems,” Dooley said. “They got in a more offensive rhythm in the second half and shot a lot of threes and gave Tennessee some trouble by driving the ball.”
ECU players kept their eyes on Georgia Tech game against the Volunteers trying to figure out what the team is good at, while figuring out what the Yellow Jackets also struggle in when it comes to developing a game plan for them on Friday.
“We all were watching the game,” Gardner said. “The team is really long. They ran a long zone, did not guard the corners really well. I saw a guy relatively my size have a really good game against them.”
The Pirates will also have to keep a close eye on Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, senior guard Brandon Alston, who is averaging 16.5 ppg through the team’s first two games. Alston has been strong from the three-point line early on this season, as he shot 4-for-5 from distance in Georgia Tech’s first game of the season against Lamar on Nov. 9.
The Pirates will look to get back on track after a lackluster offensive performance against Lamar, where the team shot just 45.2 percent from the floor, and an abysmal 25 percent from beyond the three-point line. The team also struggled from the free throw line. Although Gardner shot 12-14 at the line, while the rest of the team went 10-22.
The Pirates will look to build momentum as the game tips off at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta.
Daniel Roberts and Chase Carroll contributed to this story.