Feb. 19, 2014
RUSTON - After 12 years of having to go to the west coast to face conference opponents, Louisiana Tech will now be making a rare appearance on the east coast with a showdown at East Carolina on Thursday at 6 p.m. inside the Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
LA Tech (21-5, 9-2 C-USA) is on a four-game winning streak which has propelled them into a three-way tie atop the standings with UTEP and Middle Tennessee.
The momentum the Bulldogs have picked up at home recently is something they hope to carry into the stretch run of the regular season where four of the last five regular season games are on the road starting in Greenville, N.C.
"We hope that our experiences from late last season can help us from a focus standpoint, as well as give us some added motivation," said head coach Michael White about using last year's finish as a learning tool. "We are coming off a good performance versus Rice and we certainly hope that carries over to the way we play on the road this weekend."
East Carolina (13-13, 2-9 C-USA) opened a lot of eyes last season, finishing 23-12 and winning the CollegeInsider.com Tournament by defeating Weber State, 77-74, in the championship game.
ECU opened a bunch more eyes at the start of this season, going 4-0 and then coming eerily close to upsetting Duke in Durham.
After ending the non-conference schedule 11-4, the Pirates have had a rough time navigating Conference USA as they currently sit in 15th place after their most recent loss at North Texas, 53-51.
It does not take much scouting to learn that East Carolina is primarily a perimeter-shooting team as they lead the conference in made three-pointers per game with an average of 8.4. That mark also ranks 23rd in the country. They also rank 17th nationally in three-point field goal attempts (602 total).
"ECU is a good handling and passing team," said White. "They have good team speed and they shoot the ball very well. Richmond is a phenomenal scorer from behind the arc."
He averages a league-best 36.2 percent from beyond the arc and is tied for first in the nation with three-point field goals made per game (4.50), second in total three's made (117) and second in three-point field goals attempted (302).
The Pirates specialty will meet up against a specialty of the Bulldogs which is defending the three. LA Tech leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage defense (28.1). That clip also ranks sixth in the country.
The perimeter defense has cranked up even more during conference play by only allowing opponents to 24.5 percent shooting from long range.
The last opponent Rice can attest to that as the Owls came in averaging 8.34 made three-pointers per game, but were held to zero three's in the first half and just five for the entire game.
Offensively, it is still a collective effort for the No. 4 scoring offense in the country. In the last five games, four different players have led the team in scoring.
With Raheem Appleby still sidelined, Alex Hamilton is pacing the `Dogs with an average of 14.8 points per game. The sophomore is due for another big game as he has been held to single digits in two of the last three games.
LA Tech and ECU will be meeting for the first time ever on the basketball court.
The contest can be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM and KJVC 92.7 FM. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will have the call as fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.