Tuesday, February 10, 2015

East Carolina 64, Tigers 53

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 8:21 PM

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A disappointing season spiraled further downward for the Tigers tonight in Greenville, North Carolina, where they lost to the East Carolina Pirates two weeks after beating them by 12 points at FedExForum. The difference tonight was the absence of Austin Nichols, the U of M's most consistent offensive threat and only rim protector defensively. Nichols missed the first of an estimated four games with an ankle injury suffered in his team's loss to Temple last Saturday.

The lead changed hands four times late in the second half before ECU pulled away over the game's final four minutes as the Pirates ended the contest on a 14-4 run. The win is just the second in 17 games for East Carolina against Memphis.

B.J. Tyson was the star for the Pirates with 23 points off the bench. Tyson slammed home two of three consecutive Pirate dunks early in the second half, a sequence that turned a 29-27 Memphis lead into a 33-29 advantage for the home team. Shaq Goodwin converted a three-point play with 6:24 to play to give the Tigers a brief 47-46 lead, but ECU continued to capitalize on Memphis mistakes, including a shot-clock violation coming out of a timeout with the Tigers down only two points. The U of M committed 18 turnovers while picking up only 12 assists. Without Nichols to feed offensively, the Tigers shot 36 percent (19 for 52), while ECU hit 46 percent from the field.

The Tiger rotation was compromised further when Calvin Godfrey — who started in place of Nichols — picked up two early fouls and saw his minutes squeezed before fouling out in the second half. He scored five points and pulled down seven rebounds in the limited action. Goodwin and Nick King led the Tigers with 13 points, the former pulling down 12 rebounds and the latter eight. Trahson Burrell was held scoreless and no other Tiger scored as many as ten points.

East Carolina improves to 11-13 (4-7 in American Athletic Conference play), while the Tigers fall to 14-10 (6-5). Memphis is left to compete for a top-five spot in the AAC standings, which would earn them a bye to the quarterfinals of the AAC tourney, the team's only remaining chance at reaching the NCAA tournament. The U of M next plays Saturday when it visits USF for the teams' only meeting this season.

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