Starting the season, the Pirates struggled on the road against both non-conference and conference opponents. They went 1-5 in their first six away games and didn’t win consecutive road games until their eighteenth contest of the season at UAB. The team has yet to string together three consecutive road, but have the chance to do so this weekend in their last away game of the season at Southern Miss.
Since starting 1-5 away from Minges the Pirates have won four of their last five road games with wins at UAB, Rice, Tulsa and SMU. The team has seen contributions all across the board during this stretch. In their win at UAB on Jan. 23 Ty Armstrong led the team with 18 points; he was one of six Pirates in double figures in that game. The Pirates defeated the Blazers by a score of 91-85.
In their next away game the Pirates defeated Rice 79-63 on Feb. 2, which just so happened to be Maurice Kemp’s birthday, the ECU guard turned 22. In that game Kemp played like a man possessed, scoring a career-high 33 points. To go along with Kemp’s 33, Ty Armstrong scored an ironic 22 points.
After their win at Rice the Pirates dropped their only road loss of this five game stretch to UCF by a score of 83-73 on Feb. 9. The team responded to this road loss with a 72-63 victory at Tulsa on Feb. 20, tying them with Tulsa for fifth-place in the C-USA standings. This was a huge win for the team as the top five seeds in the C-USA tournament get a bye into the quarterfinals. In that game Maurice Kemp led the Pirates with 23 points to go along with Akeem Richmond’s 17 points off the bench. Richmond hit five three-pointers helping the Pirates end on a 21-7 run.
The most recent road win for ECU came this past weekend at SMU on Feb. 23. The Pirates defeated the Mustangs 72-69 overcoming a 17-point deficit. Akeem Richmond scored a career-high 29 points while setting the ECU record for three-pointers made in a game with nine. At one point the Pirates were down by five in which case Richmond hit two three-pointers in nine seconds to put the Pirates up by one, if that doesn’t say he had the “hot hand” I don’t know what does. Akeem earned his first C-USA player of the week with this performance; he finished the game 56 percent from three-point range. Richmond is currently ranked fifth in NCAA Division I for three-point field goal percentage(.451) and leads C-USA averaging 3.5 three pointers a game. ECU is now 16-10 overall and 7-6 in C-USA.
East Carolina is still ranked fifth in the C-USA standings. The win at SMU solidified their spot at number five as the team is no longer tied with Tulsa. If the Pirates win out and UTEP and UCF lose at least two games, ECU has a chance to climb to number three in the standings. This will all depend on whether the team continues to play at a high level. In order to earn the bye into the quarterfinals the Pirates will need contributions from every player, along with a top five finish in conference. ECU will play their last away game of the season at Southern Miss this Saturday March 2; tip-off is at 8 p.m. Follow @InsideECUSports on Twitter for live updates.