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Knights roll in Minges

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East Carolina's Isaac Fleming on the perimeter gainst Central Florida on Dec. 31, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, December 31, 2017

East Carolina basketball fell to 3-7 all-time on New Year’s Eve on Sunday in Minges Coliseum when Central Florida came in and led wire-to-wire for a 59-39 victory in ECU’s lowest scoring output of the season.

It was the Pirates’ American Athletic Conference home opener and the defeat dropped them to 0-2 in the league. ECU (6-7) went 4-1 to close nonconference play, but it has lost its two league games by a combined 46 points.

UCF (10-4, 1-1), which went 7-for-18 from 3-point range and ECU was 2-of-14, was picked third in the AAC preseason poll and improved to 6-1 in its last seven outings. The Pirates were also doomed by 21 turnovers, although the points off turnovers were even at 11-11.

“Trying to build momentum when you don't have offensive productiity is very difficult,” ECU interim coach Michael Perry said. “Now we are stepping into conference play and there is a higher level (of opponent) and certainly athleticism is at another level than what it was earlier. We are finding out that you can’t be down to teams like this and make a run and come back.”

Veteran forward Kentrell Barkley was in the Pirate starting lineup for the first time in three games. The left-hander had nine points in 31 minutes.

B.J. Tyson scored 13 to lead the home team.

UCF 7-foot-6 junior Tacko Fall picked up his second foul four minutes into the contest, but that didn’t slow the Knights. They led by as many 23 early in the second half.

Fall had six points, five rebounds and three blocks in 18 minutes. 

“Certainly there is a Tacko factor in the paint, but we also did miss some shots and there were some open looks,” Perry said. “They’ve been coming in and getting in some extra shooting, so it is frustrating and it does affect your energy level and your defensive intensity when shots aren’t falling.”

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