College

ECU braces for fifth-ranked Wichita State

Minges Coliseum will be the site of a rare double dose on Thursday — a top-five visitor and a 9 p.m. tip-off.

ECU takes on American Athletic Conference newcomer Wichita State on Thursday before an ESPN2 audience, marking just the second time a team ranked in the top five has visited Greenville. Memphis also was ranked No. 5 when it came to town in 2006.

The Shockers (13-2) bring in a five-game winning streak and are 3-0 in the AAC. They lead conference in scoring, field goal percentage, rebounding margin, assists and three-point field goals made while ranking second or third in seven additional categories.

“They’re No. 5 in the country for a reason and probably on the rise,” ECU interim head coach Michael Perry said. “They’re a terrific team, well-coached and play extremely hard; one of the best teams to come into our arena since I’ve been around.”

Landry Shamet, a 6-4 sophomore guard, is one of four players averaging double figures for the Shockers with 16.1 points per game, followed by 6-8 senior center Shaquille Morris (12.2), 6-1 senior guard Conner Frankamp (11.8) and 6-9 senior forward Darral Willis (11.6).

Willis, who averages 6.9 rebounds per game, and 6-7 senior forward Rashard Kelly, who averages 7.4 rebounds, are the most dominant rebounding duo in the conference.

The Shockers average 85.1 points per game while giving up 68.8. ECU has had its struggles offensively at times and averages 65.7 points while allowing 69.3.

“We’re going to have to do a good job of trying to find some scoring opportunities in transition,” Perry said. “We’re going to have to be creative in terms of finding ways to score. We’ve got be able to handle their full court pressure as well.

“On the defensive end, we’ve got to get back in transition and we’ve got to be prepare to guard those guys in multiple ways.”

The Pirates have a trio of double-figures scorers led by senior B.J. Tyson at 15.7 points per game. Tyson has topped the 20-point mark twice in the last five games and is on pace to become the AAC’s all-time leading scorer.

Point guard Isaac Fleming averages 12.7 points, and junior Kentrell Barkley averages 12.4 points. Fleming leads the conference with 4.8 assists per game but also average nearly four turnovers per game.

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