The East Carolina Pirates (9-2) looks to improve their already impressive record when they host former Southern Conference rival Virginia Military Institute (6-4) in their first meeting since 1977.
VMI brings a scoring-potent offense to the table, but the Keydets have yet to earn a win on the road through their first six opportunities. ECU, on the other hand, has only suffered one loss at home this season.
Regardless, the Pirates should be weary of VMI’s ability to score plenty of points. Not only will they have to be keen on defense, but they’ll have to keep up with VMI on the scoreboard.
Scoring isn’t a problem for ECU’s offense, though. In the team’s last outing, Akeem Richmond and Paris Roberts-Campbell each tallied 21 points to help lift the Pirates over N.C. A&T. Richmond’s 15-point effort in the first half built ECU a 17-point lead and Roberts-Campbell’s 15 points in the second sealed the deal.
VMI boasts an impressive trio in QJ Peterson, Rodney Glasgow and D.J. Covington. Combined, these three account for an average of just under 55 points a game.
In the Keydets last outing, Glasgow had a career game. He notched 33 points en route to a 110-78 routing of the University of Virginia – Lynchburg Dragons. With only six points separating the two teams, Glasgow scored all but two points on a 23-4 run that gave VMI a definitive lead.
ECU has an impressive offensive trio of its own, too. Richmond, Roberts-Campbell and freshman Caleb White account for, on average, 44.9 points for the Pirates. While that’s still far from VMI’s outstanding offensive trio, ECU boasts a deeper bench.
At the helm of it all is Richmond, who is arguably one of the nation’s best pure shooters. With 46 3-point field goals made this season, Richmond currently ranks second in the nation. Combine the threes Roberts-Campbell has hit and ECU’s best duo has a combined 69 treys.
Even if the Keydets are able to take a lead, ECU isn’t afraid to play from behind. The Pirates have overcome a 10-point deficit 12 times in the last three years. ECU has overcome two similar situations this season—a 17-point comeback against Norfolk State and a 15-point one against UNC-Greensboro.
One big key for the Pirates will be rebounds. Of course, offensive rebounds will be important for second-chance points, but defensive rebounds will be especially important. If VMI is allowed too many second-chance opportunities, it will be harder to keep the Keydets’ offense under control.
Freshman Brandan Stith is the man head coach Jeff Lebo will call upon. In just 11 games this season, Stith has quickly established himself as the team’s premiere rebounder. With an average of 10.2 rebounds a game, Stith ranks in at second in Conference-USA and second among all freshmen in the NCAA.
Thursday’s contest isn’t going to be a defensive battle when it comes to rebounding so much as it’s going to be each side fighting for offensive rebounds to get the edge on the scoreboard.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum. The game can be followed on the Pirates IMG Network. Follow Inside ECU Sports on Twitter @InsideECUSports for live updates from Minges.