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Layup Line: East Carolina

The eighth meeting between the Pirates and Bearcats - and UC's won them all. Can Cincinnati continue their hot streak?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati associate head coach Larry Davis knows you can't take any game for granted - especially when the head coach is resigned to watching each game from his living room.

The East Carolina Pirates are hoping the Bearcats do just that, though.

  • Game: Tuesday, January 6 @ 7:00pm ET
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: ESPNU; 700 WLW

And there's reason in Pirate-land to hope UC comes out lackadaisical in their own arena. We mentioned the missing head coach, but on top of that, the Bearcats are coming off a series of gutty wins. And defending national champion UCONN loom in the wings this Saturday. Surely, there won't be a letdown, right?

East Carolina is - uh - not great at basketball this year. They have excellent beaches, though, as I learned this past summer (we spent a week in the Outer Banks and had a blast). Even given ECU's lack of success this year, Tuesday's game won't be a vacation for anyone in red and black.

The Pirates average only a couple less rebounds a game than Cincinnati, but they haven't played a squad that rebounds as well as UC yet. The Bearcats should be able to exploit an advantage on the boards.

ECU's led in scoring by a freshman that doesn't even start, B.J. Tyson (#21 in your program). Tyson averages 13.3 points a game and obviously provides quite the spark off the bench.

Their second leading scorer? A sophomore - so at first glance, I'd guess ECU is infusing the program with young talent. Caleb White (#2) is that sophomore, and he's a tall and lean guard that starts for the Pirates and scores 13.1 a game.

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Outrebound ECU. On average, the Pirates break even with their opponents on the boards. The Bearcats? Well they post a +6.5 rebounding margin.
  • Feed the Paint. ECU doesn't have an overly strong presence in the paint, and they won't block a ton of shots. Feed Ellis, Clark, and DeBerry and good things should happen.
  • Don't turn it over. Most paths to a UC loss involve the Bearcats beating themselves, so protecting the ball should, again, lead to good things.

I obviously like the 'Cats in this one. They might not start the game on fire, but they'll wear East Carolina out before it's all said and done. Bearcats win: 63-54.