Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
ESPNU (Adam Amin, Jay Williams)
"It's exciting to go back and it's exciting for our players to give them an opportunity to play on that stage in that atmosphere. I think it's going to be really helpful to our team and to our players. I think it's something they'll remember and they're really looking forward to this game." -- ECU head coach and former Tar Heel standout Jeff Lebo
Season to Date: East Carolina enters Saturday's contest with a 6-1 record. The Pirates' top wins thus far came against UNC-Greensboro (76-73) and Appalachian State (82-72). Their lone loss was at Charlotte, 76-64, on Dec. 1. ECU is playing its first-ever game at the Smith Center after taking an 11-day break for exams.
Post Presence: Senior Maurice Kemp has provided a solid option in the paint for head coach Jeff Lebo, ranking fourth in Conference USA with 16.7 points per game. The 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward is not only a scoring threat, however. Kemp ranks among the top-10 in the C-USA in five different categories, including rebounding (8.1) and field goal percentage (50.7).
Point Aplenty: Senior Miguel Paul earned preseason first-team All-Conference USA honors after leading the league in assists (5.9) and ranking second in scoring (15.2) as a junior. The Winter Haven, Fla. product is averaging 12.6 points and 4.2 assists per game. Lebo has benefitted by having a backup point guard nearly as effective as his starter in senior Shamarr Bowden. The Greensboro, N.C. product leads Conference USA in assist-turnover ratio (5.8) and ranks sixth nationally with 23 assists and just four turnovers. Their combined effort has allowed ECU to pace the league in turnover margin (+3.4) and assist-turnover ratio (1.6).
Familiar Face: Lebo, a former Tar Heel standout, is now in his third season as ECU's head coach. UNC head coach Roy Williams was an assistant under Dean Smith for Lebo's first three years in Chapel Hill, while UNC assistant coach Hubert Davis was a teammate in 1988-89. Lebo ranks second in school history in 3-point field goal percentage (42.8) behind Davis, while also ranking fourth in career free throw percentage (83.9). Saturday's game marks the second time Lebo has brought a team to the Smith Center – his Tennessee Tech squad lost 85-59 during the 1999-2000 season.
Random Fact of the Day: ECU has never beaten an AP-ranked opponent on the road (0-44).
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Pirates, 85-65, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's East Regional on March 18, 1993 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with East Carolina, 2-0.
0 Miguel Paul (6-1, 170, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg
22 Paris Campbell (6-3, 180, So.) - 6.7 ppg, 1.1 apg
2 Maurice Kemp (6-8, 190, Sr.) - 16.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg
12 Robert Sampson (6-8, 210, Jr.) - 9.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg
5 Ty Armstrong (6-8, 235, Jr.) - 5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
1 Akeem Richmond (6-0, 180, Jr.) - 8.3 ppg, 40.5% 3FG
41 Marshall Guilmette (6-10, 240, Fr.) - 6.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg
20 Shamarr Bowden (6-4, 170, Sr.) - 5.4 ppg, 3.3 apg
(Photos by USA Today Sports)