GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina will look to secure its fourth straight win Saturday as the Pirates host Eastern Kentucky in their final tune-up before American Athletic Conference plays begins New Year’s Day.

The Pirates (5-7) have won three in a row for the first time since December 2017 in large part of its defensive performance. After yielding over 70 points in four straight games, ECU has held each of its last three opponents under the mark.

In the two games prior to Christmas, neither Charlotte nor UMES were able to crack 60 points against the Pirates, who have not allowed their opponent to shoot over 39 percent in each of their five wins.

During its current three-game winning streak, ECU has held its opponents to an average of 60.0 points per game, 35.8 percent shooting and 21.9 percent outside the 3-point arc. The Pirates have also made more free throws (64) than their opponents have attempted (45).

East Carolina’s Jayden Gardner has averaged 20.3 points and 8.8 rebounds while freshman Brandon Suggs has put up 10.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Tyrie Jackson (10.1) and Tremont Robinson-White (10.2) are also averaging more than 10 points per game this season.

Gardner, who was named The American Player-of-the-Week on Monday, has scored more than 20 points in four straight games and leads the league in scoring.

Eastern Kentucky (3-9) enters the game on a seven-game losing streak and is seeking its first road win this season.

For the Colonels, Jomaru Brown has averaged 16 points while Ty Taylor has put up 13.3 points. Brown has connected on 25.8 percent of the 62 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 6 of 29 over his last five games. He’s also made 71.4 percent of his free throws this season.

Taylor has attempted 89 3-pointers and connected on 37.1 percent of them, and is 15 of 41 over the last five games.

EKU, who ranks fifth in NCAA Division I with 10.7 steals per game, has forced opponents into committing turnovers on 27.2 percent of all possessions this year, the sixth-highest rate among all Division I teams. That figure has dropped to 26.1 percent during the team’s seven-game losing skid, however.

Despite their defensive pressure, the Colonels haven’t been able to generate much offense during their current slide, reaching the 70-point mark just twice. Overall this season EKU is 0-9 when it scores 72 points or fewer and 3-0 when they exceed 72.

Conversely, the Pirates are 5-2 when they hold their opponents to anything under 74 points, but 0-5 when they allow at least 74 points.