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MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIME

East Carolina (1-2) at USF (2-3)When: Saturday 7 p.m.Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: Catch 47/1070 AM

After a surprising upset over in-state rival Florida State, the men’s basketball returns to the court six days later against East Carolina.

First-year coach Stan Heath said following Sunday’s contest that he “knew nothing” about the Pirates after his team played three games in as many days, but will use the extended break to prepare.

The production from center Kentrell Gransberry (16.8 points per game, 10.4 rebounds) and point guard Chris Howard (12.2 ppg and 7.4 assists per game) was expected, but two freshmen have emerged as key contributors.

Forward Orane Chin scored 11 points, including a 3-3 effort from long range, and has teamed with Gransberry to help the Bulls control the paint defensively, as opponents have shot .443 percent from the field.

Guard Dominique Jones ranks fourth on the team with 11.4 points per game, and his energy on the offensive end has been valuable to USF’s transition game.

The Bulls fell in their first three games of the season and averaged 16.3 turnovers per game, but during their two-game win streak, the miscues have dropped to 14 per game.

“We haven’t been as wild and crazy with the basketball, throwing it around the gym,” Heath said. “I think that was just getting back into a rhythm. I know a week from where we were last week we’re a whole lot better, and we’ve still got a ways to go.”

East Carolina hasn’t played a road contest this season, and its lone victory came in the season-opener against Limestone.

The Pirates are led by sophomore forward Gabe Blair, who is averaging 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

USF is seeking its first .500 record since falling to Notre Dame on Jan. 21.

Gransberry sat out the first game of the season, serving a one-game suspension, but has since become the focal point for the Bulls offense and opened things up for his teammates.

“Gransberry has now become much more efficient. He’s been a 60-percent shooter in the last couple of games compared to a 30-percent shooter the first couple of games,” Heath said. “We’re getting good balance. We’re getting a lot of guys to score and shoot and make plays.”