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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
By Brian Bailey

Memphis presents unique historical challenge


The Memphis Tigers will come to Williams Arena on Wednesday night as the nation’s 5th-ranked basketball team. Coach John Calipari's squad will be the highest ranked team to ever play in Minges Coliseum.

The highest ranked teams to come to Greenville previously were South Carolina in 1969 and Louisville in 2004, both of which came to Minges Coliseum at No. 8 in the polls.

The highest ranked team to lose to East Carolina in Greenville was 9th ranked Marquette — on two occasions.

Ironically, both of those games came in the same calendar year, 2002. The first win came on February 26, 2002, as a part of the ’01-’02 season. The second win came on December 30, 2002, in a game that was moved up because of the Eastern Regionals for high school basketball, which were scheduled for the first week of March in ’03.

The upsets came against a loaded Marquette team that Dwyane Wade would led to the Final Four. Williams Arena was truly rocking for both of those upsets, the two biggest wins by far in the Bill Herrion era at East Carolina.

The Ricky Stokes era almost got a huge win at Wake Forest last week. The Pirates had never beaten a nationally ranked opponent on the road, but came very close in that 58-54 loss to the Deacs.

Wake Forest followed the close call with ECU with a loss at home to top ranked Duke. The Deacs were right in the game in the second half, until Trent Stickland missed a breakaway slam. J.J. Redick went right down the court and swished a three, and the Blue Devils cruised from there.

Memphis has won two in a row after falling to 15th-ranked Texas last week. The Tigers beat Winthrop on Sunday, 73-63, behind Rodney Carney’s 21 points. The only other loss that Memphis has suffered was against No. 1 Duke in the Preseason NIT championship game.

Winthrop beat East Carolina in Rock Hill 70-48 back in December.

The Pirates have had success of late changing defenses. Texas employed a zone and held the Tigers to 29 percent shooting last week.

East Carolina comes into the game after Saturday night’s 80-74 win over Saint Paul’s. The Pirates came from 9 points down in the second half to pull out the victory against the Division II Tigers.

“I give this team credit because I don’t know if we would have won this game here weeks ago,” said Pirate Coach Ricky Stokes. “I think we’ve made some strides in battling adversity because we really had to fight. Hopefully, it will pay off for us to be able to face some adversity when you’re not playing well and still have a chance to win the game.”

Hopefully, the Pirates will play in front of a packed house on Tuesday night. East Carolina will be an underdog, but Williams Arena is a tremendous home court advantage when it is rocking!

Lady Pirates continue roll

East Carolina’s Lady Pirates wrapped up their longest road trip of the year by beating Memphis 81-68 on Sunday. ECU is 10-4 overall and 2-1 in C-USA play.

Sharon Baldwin-Tener and crew spent 11 days on the road, going 4-1 on the trip. In an age in which teams just can’t seem to win on the road, the trip was a great success.

The Lady Pirates are dominating the inside against opponents. LaToya Horton had a dozen rebounds on Sunday, while Nicole Davis had 10 boards.

Former Ayden-Grifton star Cherie Mills is also having an outstanding season after transferring from Louisburg.

The Lady Pirates host Houston on Friday before getting back on the road for games at Southern Miss and Central Florida. After that, the schedule features five of the Lady Pirates' next six games at home at Williams Arena.

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:33:22 AM


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