#716 East Carolina University Piratesvs.#715 University of Houston Cougars
Written by Ricky Dimon
Houston Cougars (12-4 SU, 6-6 ATS, 3-9 O/U) vs. East Carolina Pirates (9-8 SU, 4-6 ATS, 4-6 O/U)
NCAAB: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Houston Cougars -9. Total: 126
The Houston Cougars will be looking to get back on the winning track when they visit the East Carolina Pirates at Williams Arena on Wednesday night. Houston had won three games in a row before succumbing to Cincinnati last Saturday. The Pirates are in the midst of a three-game losing streak that has come at the hands of SMU, Central Florida, and Temple.
The Cougars suffered a 67-58 loss to Cincinnati the last time they took the court. Still, they have won six of their last eight contests heading into Wednesday. Rob Gray Jr. is currently the American Athletic Conference’s leading scorer at 20.5 points per game. Gray returned from a one-game absence because of the flu to score a team-high 21 points against the Bearcats. Senior guard Damyean Dotson recorded 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his team-leading fifth double-double of the season. Dotson is one of only three players to rank among the AAC’s top nine in scoring and rebounding. Houston has also gotten a big lift from senior center Bertrand Nkali, who has grabbed at least four rebounds and blocked four shots in two of the Cougars’ last three outings and is tied for seventh in the AAC in blocks per game (1.5).
East Carolina needs to find some offense, having failed to score more than 62 points in any of its last five contests. The Pirates are averaging 63 points per game, which rank them 333rd among the 347 Division I teams in the nation. Sophomore forward Kentrell Barkley has paced ECU in scoring in four of the last five games as B.J. Tyson’s slump continues. Tyson still leads the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game but is shooting only 39 percent from the field. Caleb White, second on the team in scoring at 11.3 ppg, is also shooting worse than 40 percent.
Needless to say, East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo is looking for a spark for his offense. “Our offensive confidence when it’s time to shoot the ball is just not there,” he said.
The Houston Cougars are:
The East Carolina Pirates are:
Houston leads the AAC and is ranked among the nation’s top 25 leaders in fewest turnovers per game (seventh with 10.1) and turnover margin (23rd at plus-3.9). The Cougars are 5-1 ATS in their last six following a loss and 19-9-1 ATS in their last 29 against the American Athletic Conference. East Carolina is 1-5 ATS in its last six at home and 3-11-1 ATS in the last 15 meetings between the two teams. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.