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ECU pulls away at South Florida

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

TAMPA, FL   East Carolina made a series of successful adjustments for a 52-39 American Athletic Conference win at South Florida on Wednesday night.

Pirates coach Jeff Lebo used a deeper rotation than in the previous game with Cincinnati, even though freshman Kentrell Barkley was out of action with flu-like symptoms, which developed Tuesday night.

Barkley is averaging 10.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds.

Barkley played all 40 minutes Saturday in a 65-56 home loss to the Bearcats, scoring 14 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out six assists without a turnover.

Lebo did not start senior point guard Prince Williams because he was three minutes late for a team meeting.

USF had defeated ECU 69-52 in Greenville on Feb. 16 with Jahmal McMurray scoring 21 points and Nehemias Morillo adding 18. McMurry had five points in 34 minutes in the second meeting and Morillo was scoreless in 34 minutes.

"We kept our forwards in tighter to the paint area," Lebo said of the tweaks in the zone that allowed ECU (12-18, 4-13 AAC) to get its second straight league win on the road.

Three of the Pirates' AAC victories have been away from home this season.

Caleb White led ECU with 12 points and nine rebounds.

After being outrebounded 44-30 in the first meeting with the Bulls, the Pirates held a 40-38 advantage on the boards. Michel Nzege had eight rebounds.

Lance Tejada started in place of Prince Williams and scored 11 points. B.J. Tyson had 10 points. Kanu Aja had eight points and five rebounds. Prince Williams had five points, two assists and two steals.

Nzege, Clarence Williams and Mike Zangari scored two points each.

Jaleel Cousins led USF (7-23, 4-13) with 13 points but made just three of 10 free throws.

The Bulls' shooting woes weren't limited to Cousins as the hosts went 15 of 54 from the field for 27.8 percent. They were one of 15 behind the arc for 6.7 percent. USF was eight of 18 on free throws for 44.4 percent.

ECU was 18 of 50 from the field (36 percent), five of 20 on threes (25 percent) and 11 of 15 at the line (73.3 percent).

The Pirates scored the same number of points as in the first meeting with USF, but the Bulls tallied 30 fewer in the second game.

"We really understood the game plan very well," Lebo said. "We made some adjustments from game one and we really did a good job on the two guys that hurt us the first game, McMurray and Morillo. We knew if we could do the job on them, they would have a hard time scoring. Credit out kids for battling hard."

ECU went ahead to stay when Tejada hit a 3-pointer for a 5-2 lead with 18:27 left in the first half. The Pirates were on top 26-16 at intermission after leading by as many as 13 in the opening 20 minutes.

ECU's margin reached 21 points three times in the second half.

The Pirates will recognize Aja, Drew Bost, Peyton Robbins, Prince Williams and Michael Zangari at Senior Day on Sunday when ECU hosts Memphis at 4 p.m. (CBSSN). The Tigers are 16-13 overall and 7-9 in the AAC going into a game at Temple tonight.

PAGE UPDATED 03/03/16 02:40 AM.

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