UH-ECU rundown: Cougars will face task of defending Pirates’ Gardner
No. 5 Houston will be looking for its ninth straight win when it travels to Greenville, North Carolina to take on East Carolina on Wednesday.
The Cougars (15-1, 10-1 American Athletic Conference) enter the game following a 70-48 win over SMU. In that contest, UH outscored the Mustangs 42-24 in the second half. Sophomore guard Marcus Sasser led the team with 19 points, and senior forward Justin Gorham had 17 rebounds.
Gorham has recorded double-digit rebounds in eight straight games. He is the first UH player to have such a streak since forward Tim Moore in the 1994-95 season.
A look at the Pirates
ECU (7-6, 1-6 AAC) enters the matchup with UH on a five-game losing streak, with its most recent coming at the hands of Tulsa on Saturday.
Despite the struggles by the Pirates, UH head coach Kelvin Sampson is focused on making sure his team is prepared for the game.
“That means nothing,” Sampson said. “We’re playing East Carolina. I haven’t mentioned where they are, and I don’t mention where we are. It’s our next game. The most important thing for us is our mindset, our discipline, our attention to detail, our leadership, point guard play, things that we emphasize. It’s no different. We don’t approach anybody any different than anyone else.”
One of the challenges that UH will have is defending ECU junior forward Jayden Gardner. The Wake Forest, North Carolina, native leads his team with 17.1 points and 8.1 rebounds.
“We couldn’t guard him in a phone booth (in previous seasons),” Sampson said. “We got to figure out how to guard him. … He’s a load. It’s our third year guarding him. I’ve seen him since high school … I’ve always been a fan of Jayden Gardner.”
In the last two games for the Pirates, Gardner has scored at least 23 points and finished with at least eight rebounds.
Sampson also added he believes that Gardner should have been the AAC’s pick in the preseason to be the player of the year.
How to watch
The game between UH and ECU will tipoff at 5 p.m. and air on ESPN+ and will also be able to be heard on KPRC 950 AM.