East Carolina looks to bounce back vs. James Madison

When James Madison plays host East Carolina in a nonconference tilt in Greenville, N.C., on Saturday, it will be a matchup between a team looking to avenge its first loss of the season and another team happy to just get back into action after a long layoff.

Host East Carolina got off to a great start to the season, winning its first five games of the season in nonconference play. But in their first American Athletic Conference game of the season, the Pirates fell short for the first time, losing 70-55 to SMU.

It will be a short turnaround for East Carolina in its effort to rebound, playing less than 72 hours after traveling to Dallas.

“I don’t think we truly have a feel of where we are yet because we haven’t played enough games,” East Carolina head coach Joe Dooley said before the SMU game. “We had 11 new guys last year. I feel a lot better this year than I did at this point last year.”

East Carolina is led in scoring by Jayden Gardner, who is averaging 19.0 points per game and has been a veteran rock to lean on so far.

“I think he’s going to continue get better,” Dooley said. “I think he’ll get better because we have better pieces around him. I think the other thing, he’s an unbelievable person. He’s a character program type of person and you want other guys around him that are similar.”

On the other side, James Madison hopes it isn’t too rusty after having a COVID-19-induced layoff.

The Dukes (2-1) had to pause team activities a couple of weeks ago after a positive test within their program, which forced the cancellation of games against Maryland, Old Dominion and George Mason. James Madison’s last game was Nov. 29 against Radford, which resulted in a 67-59 James Madison win.

“We know that may not have been the prettiest game of basketball, but it was a really important one for our team’s growth to get a win,” James Madison head coach Mark Byington said after that game.

The Dukes have been led offensively by Matt Lewis (19.3 points per game), Vado Morse (18.3) and Julien Wooden (11.3).

–Field Level Media

Published: 2020-12-18 20:37:16

Tags: #East #Carolina #bounce #James #Madison

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