ECU looks to get back on track against Tulane

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) - East Carolina won six straight home games until its ran into American Athletic Conference co-leader Tulsa here 10 days ago, which started a three-game skid for the Pirates.

ECU will look to start a new streak Saturday when it hosts conference foe Tulane inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

Following the loss to Tulsa, the Pirates found the road unkind as they lost suffered a pair of 20 point losses to both Cincinnati and SMU.

"One thing we've talked about is that we've played in some tough venues," ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley said. "Cincinnati is a tough place to play, SMU's home record is really good. You take the good with the bad, so let's get back to work."

Both the Pirates and Green Wave have started conference play 2-4 with ECU posting wins over South Florida and SMU, while Tulane scored victories over Cincinnati and Temple.

East Carolina has won the past three matchups and owns a 6-3 series record since both teams joined The American in 2014-15.

"[Tulane] can score," Dooley said. "They've got balanced scoring with three guys in double figures, and they muddy the game up playing defensively.

"We can't let them run around making 3s; that's a big part of their offense, and we can't turn it over."

Tulane is the top 3-point shooting team in conference at. 35.8 percent and also has the highest turnover margin at plus-4. Its 8.0 3-pointers made per game is second-best in the league and its 8.2 steals is third.

ECU ranks in the bottom third of the conference in each of the four aforementioned categories.

Teshaun Hightower, who began his career at Georgia, is the Green Wave's leading scorer with 16.3 points per game, second in the league behind ECU's Jayden Gardner (20.6 ppg).

Kansas transfer K.J Lawson averages 14.0 points per game for the Green Wave and Rhode Island transfer Christion Thompson averages 12.6.

The Green Wave has three players ranked among the conference leaders in 3-point shooting led by senior Nic Thomas ranked second at 43.8 percent.

Lawson, Thompson and Thomas have combined to score 48 percent of the team's points this season, including 56 percent of all Green Wave points over their last five.

Tulane hasn't played since suffering a 67-54 loss at home to Tulsa this past Saturday.

Each of the Pirates' last three opponents have shot over 40 percent from the field, which comes on the heels of having held six of their previous seven foes under the mark.

East Carolina won each of those six games and owns an 8-0 record when holding teams under 40 percent shooting.

Gardner (18) along with freshmen Brandon Suggs (18) and Tristen Newton (15) combined to score 51 points in the Pirates' loss at SMU on Wednesday. The trio has account for 57 percent of ECU's scoring this season and 65 percent of the team's points over its last five games.

Suggs' back-to-back double digit scoring games against Cincinnati and SMU raised his average to double figures (10.1 ppg) for the first time since mid-December.

ECU will be without the services of junior college transfer Edra Luster, who was injured in practice Monday and could miss between four to six weeks Dooley announced prior to practice Friday.

Pirate players have missed a total of 35 games this season due to injury or illness.