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East Carolina, Tulane set to meet again

East Carolina and Tulane weren't supposed to meet in back-to-back games.

But they are now.

The two American Athletic Conference rivals played Dec. 22, and East Carolina prevailed 68-58 in Greenville, N.C.

Now they're meeting again Saturday in New Orleans.

The Pirates (7-1, 1-1 AAC) haven't played since their victory over the Green Wave because COVID-19 issues within their program forced the postponement of their game at Wichita State on Wednesday.

The Green Wave (5-2, 0-2) were just hours away from tipping off at UCF on Wednesday when the AAC postponed that game because of undisclosed COVID issues.

"We struggled in conference last year," said J.J. Miles, who scored 13 points for ECU in the first meeting with Tulane, "so I feel like winning and getting back to 1-1 in the conference gives us confidence."

The Pirates lost six of their last seven AAC games last season and finished 1-8 in conference road games and 11-20 overall. Their only AAC road victory was an 81-67 triumph against the Green Wave.

This season they have matched their best start since the 2008-09 season.

"Our defense was good early," coach Joe Dooley said of the victory. "We got in a little bit of an offensive rhythm to start the second half and got a little bit of a lead."

Tulane, which has lost the past six meetings with ECU, has no seniors and is one of the youngest teams in the country. Of the 10 players who saw action against ECU, seven are in their first playing season.

"We're going through so many firsts," second-year coach Ron Hunter said. "We don't handle them very well, but we learn from them and grow from them. We definitely have the talent. We just have to learn through the process."

ECU held the Green Wave scoreless for nearly five minutes to take the lead for good in the first half of the first meeting.

"We had an opportunity, but offensively right now we're not where I'd like us to be," Hunter said. "We're trying to get better each day. They are all so close, but I'm looking for consistency. That's something since Christmas I've told these guys. A really good program is about consistency."

--Field Level Media