WHEN/WHERE: 7; Williams Arena, Greenville, N.C.
RADIO: 570-AM and 910-AM.
RECORDS: USF 7-4, ECU 4-7.
COACHES: USF _ Robert McCullum (14-24, second season; 58-69 overall), ECU _ Bill Herrion (52-72, fifth season; 219-143).
NOTABLE: It's the Conference USA opener for both, and the Bulls have a chance to match their C-USA win total on opening night. Of USF's next nine opponents, only ECU has a losing record, making tonight crucial if it is to prove it's better than the last place predicted by the coaches. The Bulls will be without sophomore guard Marius Prekevicius, out 3-4 weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee. That means junior James Holmes and freshman Collin Dennis not only have to play well, but avoid foul trouble as USF has only nine regulars healthy. Rebounding is a key because ECU ranks fourth in C-USA in offensive boards while USF is last. Senior forward Terrence Leather and junior center Solomon Jones rank seventh and 13th, respectively, in C-USA in rebounding, and they'll have to hold their own against 6-foot-8 forward Corey Rouse, who ranks third. Leather hasn't had an offensive rebound in his past two games. "He's too good a rebounder for that," McCullum said. The Bulls were outrebounded 47-35 in a 69-60 loss at ECU last season that prevented them from earning a C-USA tournament berth.
_ GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer