East Carolina University men’s basketball (10-4, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) will play in its fifth conference game of the season to face the University of Cincinnati (11-3, 1-2 AAC) at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 in Cincinnati, Ohio, in Fifth Third Arena.
ECU came into AAC play with a total of nine wins in non-conference games. The conference season was originally set to open up with a match against Wichita State on Dec. 29. The game was set to take place at home in Greenville, North Carolina, and was postponed due to COVID-19 complications within the ECU program. The Pirates then faced another game postponed due to COVID-19 that was set to take place against the University of South Florida (5-9, 0-2 AAC) on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Florida.
After two postponements, Pirate basketball was able to play in its first AAC game with an 88-80 win in overtime against Tulane University (6-7, 3-1 AAC) on Jan. 5. A few of the game's top scorers included sophomore guard Tristen Newton and freshman forward Brandon Johnson. Newton was able to score 14 points in overtime and a career high of 32 points throughout the game.
After the win against Tulane, the Pirates hit the road to face Temple University (9-6, 2-2 AAC) on Jan. 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ECU held the lead in the first half of the game with a halftime score of 40-34. Both teams played a good game, however, a 3-pointer from Temple in the final seconds of the game put the team over the edge. The final score came out to be a close 75-78 in favor of the Temple Owls.
Junior forward Alanzo Frink was the highest scorer for the purple and gold in the Temple game with a season high total of 15 points. Junior guard Tremont Robinson-White made a total of 14 points while senior forward Vance Jackson pulled in a total of 12. Newton made a career high of nine assists. In the end, East Carolina walked away with a field goal percentage of .510 while Temple pulled in at .491.
After the close loss against Temple, the Pirates will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats. The two teams last saw each other on March 7, 2021, with a Bearcat win of 82-69. Former ECU forward Jayden Gardner was the team’s highest scorer with a total of 23 points. The purple and gold fell short by 2 points as the game went into halftime with the score at 37-35. The team wrapped up the game with 18 assists and 19 field goals.
The Bearcats had 12 of 30 3-point attempts while ECU held four of 17. Cincinnati’s top scorers included sophomore guard Mason Madson who walked away with 19 points and guard Keith Williams with 16.
Cincinnati opened up its 2022 conference season with a loss 60-68 against Tulane on Jan. 1. The team continued on with its season where the team gained its first conference win as they took on Southern Methodist on Jan. 6. Most recently the Bearcats took on the University of Memphis (9-5, 3-1 AAC) on Jan. 9 and suffered a close loss 80-87.
Bearcats held strong until the end of game as stand out players junior guard Mika Adams, Woods and senior guard David DeJulius put up the final few points of the match. Cincinnati’s highest scorer of the night was junior guard Jeremiah Davenport who walked away with a total of 21 points and seven three pointers for the Bearcats.
Overall the team held their own against Memphis as they made 47% of field goals and 53% of 3-pointers. Memphis had the home court advantage on Cincinnati as the Bearcats played in their first away conference game of the season.
Cincinnati head coach Wes Miller said he is not disappointed in the team's performance but is disappointed in the outcome according to gobearcats. On Jan. 12 the Pirates and Cincinnati will go head to head as they search for a win. Both teams will enter the game hungry for a win after losing their most recent matchups.
ECU still stands in its conference spot at 1-1 while Cincinnati fell 1-2. The game will be broadcasted by ESPN+ and will tip off at 7 p.m. After Pirates face Cincinnati the team will return back to Greenville to play Memphis at 4 p.m. on Jan. 15 at Minges Coliseum.