GREENVILLE — As wins go, East Carolina’s 82-62 triumph over visiting Florida A&M on Tuesday night was relatively stress free for Jeff Lebo, who became the winningest coach in ECU’s Division I history, surpassing Tom Quinn.
Lebo improved to 103-101 with the Pirates. Quinn was 102-107 from 1966-67 to 1973-74, getting ECU to its first NCAA Tournament as Southern Conference tournament champions in 1972.
“It’s a great honor,” Lebo said. “My staff is really important to me and shares in that. I’ve got guys who have been with me for all seven years, coach [Michael] Perry and coach [Ken] Potosnak and Kyle Robinson. Coach [Mike] Netti has been with me [four] years. They all share in that. It means a lot but we’ll reflect on those I guess when the season’s over.
“I’m more concerned about trying to get my team ready for practice [Wednesday] at nine o’clock in the morning. After a night game, they’re happy about that.”
Lebo laughed at the tongue-and-cheek remark.
His career record with stops at Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga, Auburn and ECU is 314-257.
The Pirates (4-1) went ahead to stay against FAMU (2-3) on a 3-pointer by Caleb White that provided a 5-2 lead with 17:16 left in the first half. The lead remained in double figures after a layup by B.J. Tyson put ECU ahead 23-13 with 8:58 left in the half.
A three by White gave the Pirates their biggest lead at 46-17, a 29-point margin, with 1:17 left in the first half.
“In the first half, we played outstanding defense,” Lebo said. “The second half we went through the motions a little bit. I thought Florida A&M played hard, particularly in the second half. They were more active and quicker to the ball.”
The Rattlers got within 16 points at 70-54 on a layup by Trey-Cary Warren with 6:15 to go.
Kentrell Barkley had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Pirates. White had 20 points, five rebounds and six assists. White hit 6-of-10 from behind the arc, becoming the sixth player in ECU with 200 career 3-pointers. B.J. Tyson added 17 points.
Andre Washington had seven points and eight rebounds. Freshman Jeremy Sheppard had five points and six assists.
Desmond Williams paced the visitors with 19 points. Warren added 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Pirates reduced their turnovers from 21 in the Savannah Invitational opener, a 73-50 win over Stetson on Sunday, to 14 against FAMU despite extended pressure by the Rattlers.
The objective is basic five games into the 2016-17 season with back-to-back games approaching.
“We just want to get better,” Lebo said. “This is a tough week. We have four games in one week. Hopefully, we can get some more consistent play from some players off the bench. We had nine guys in double figures (minutes) tonight. We had some young guys in there tonight so we continue get them some time, so they can learn how to play a little bit better when we’re away from home. . . . That’s the big thing. They understand how hard it is to win away from home. We’ll have the opportunity Friday and Saturday, both times.”
The Pirates will spend Thanksgiving in Savannah, GA, meeting Mercer on Friday at 5 p.m.in ECU’s third game of the inaugural Savannah Invitational. The opponent on Saturday will be Air Force or Akron, depending on Friday’s results.
The Pirates will be without senior forward Michel Nzege (left knee) and freshman guard/forward Elijah Hughes (foot).