PREVIEW: @DuqMBB at #24 (AP)/#23 (USA Today) Rhode Island
Jan. 25, 2018
Duquesne (14-7, 5-3), hits the road to face Atlantic 10 leader Rhode Island (16-3, 8-0) on Saturday, Jan. 27 at Noon (NBCSN). The Rams, winner of 11 in a row, earned a spot in both polls this week at No. 24 (AP) and No. 23 (USA Today). This will be Rhody's first home game as a ranked team this season. URI, which is DU's first ranked opponent since at No. 2 (AP) Kentucky on Nov. 20, 2016, has won 13 in a row at Ryan Center. Duquesne has already eclipsed last season's win total (10-22) and conference victory mark (3-15) in their first-year under head coach Keith Dambrot. The Dukes (.282) and Rams (.303) enter Saturday's game as the two top 3-point defensive teams in the A-10. URI (66.3 ppg.) and DU (66.6 ppg.) also rank second and third in the conference in scoring defense. This is just the fourth true road game for the Dukes, who were the last D-1 team to play a road game this season (Jan. 6 at Fordham).
DU has outrebounded 15 of 21 opponents (tied once). The Dukes were outboarded 19 times in 2017. Duquesne is coming off a season-high 50 rebound effort (24 offensive) on Wednesday vs. Richmond.
Duquesne is 11-1 when holding opponents under 70 points and 14-0 when leading with 5:00 left.
Eric Williams Jr., a four-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, is 14-of-24 (.583) from the 3-point arc in his past two games. He is averaging 29.5 ppg. and 9.5 rpg. in his last two outings. The 6-5 Williams Jr. had a streak of three-straight double-doubles snapped vs. Richmond (25-8).
Six-five Williams Jr., the A-10's leading rebounder (9.7), ranks fifth among D-I freshmen in rebounds/g. The four ahead of him, Deandre Ayton of Arizona, Marvin Bagley of Duke, Mo Bamba of Texas and Brandon McCoy of UNLV, were all ESPN.com 5-star recruits - and are all 6-11 or taller.
Williams Jr. leads the A-10 in rebounding at 9.7 rpg. His nine double-doubles rank second in the conference and tied for fifth nationally among Division I freshmen. He has posted double-doubles in four of eight conference games.
Tydus Verhoeven, the A-10's leading shot blocker (50, 2.38/g.), rejected a DU freshman record nine shots vs. George Mason on Jan. 20. He is four blocks shy of tying the DU freshman record of 54 set by Derrick Alston in 1991.
DU is 12-5 since grad transfer Chas Brown made his debut on Dec. 1 with five minutes played vs. Pitt. Brown, Coppin State's MVP last season, missed the first four games with a foot injury. DU is 10-2 when Brown logs 15 or more minutes.
Tarin Smith, who entered this season with 21 3-pointers (63 g.), has 25 3-pointers in 21 games this year.
Graduate student guard Rene Castro-Caneddy, who entered this season with a 5.0 ppg. scoring average, is scoring at a 13.0 ppg. clip. He has scored in double digits in six of his past eight games.
Jordan Robinson is averaging 6.3 ppg. and 5.0 on .600 shooting (21-of-35) in 20.4 min/g. in conference play.
Duquesne's three overtime games in a season are the most since the Dukes played a school record six in 2009-10.
This is the 58th meeting in a series that dates to Jan. 13, 1966. Rhode Island, winner of 19 of the past 25, leads the all-time series 32-25. In games at Kingston, Rhody holds an 18-11 lead. DU has won two of the past six, with both wins coming at Ryan Center.
In an oddity of sorts, URI has won the past eight meetings at Palumbo Center, while DU has won four of the past nine meetings at Ryan Center.
Nine of the past 11 meetings between the two (eight URI wins) have been determined by eight or fewer points. The average score of the past 11: Duquesne 72.4, Rhode Island 74.2 (796 points for DU to 816 points for URI).
URI is in its sixth season under head coach Dan Hurley. This is the first meeting between Hurley and Duquesne's Keith Dambrot. Dambrot is 0-2 vs. the Rams with both meetings coming while Dambrot was at Akron. Jim Baron's Rams defeated the Zips at home, 79-50, on Jan. 3, 2009 and also won the next season in Akron, 68-63 on Jan. 5, 2010.
Rhode Island, the preseason A-10 favorite, is coming off a 78-58 win at Fordham on Wednesday ... the Rams, who entered both the AP (#24) and USA Today (#23) polls this week, have won 11 in a row and are 11-0 at home ... URI's 13-game home win streak is the 12th-longest in the country ... Duquesne is 0-2 all-time vs. AP ranked Rhody teams: #23 URI 83, Duquesne 76 on Jan. 10, 1998 & #22 URI 80, Duquesne 78 on Jan. 13, 2008 (both games were at Rhode Island).
NOTING THE DUKES
DU is in its first season under head coach Keith Dambrot. Dambrot came to the Bluff after 13 highly-successful seasons at Akron, where he led the Zips to a 305-139 record (23.5 wins per season) including 10 postseason appearances (3 NCAA, 5 NIT, 1 CBI & 1 CIT). Dambrot's 14-7 start is the best by a DU first-year coach since Dudey Moore went 17-4 in his first 21 games in 1948-49. Moore coached Keith's father, Sid, from 1952-54 during his highly-successful 10 seasons on the Bluff. There were 10 coaches between Moore and Dambrot.
MOST WINS BY A FIRST-YEAR DU COACH
Dudey Moore (1948-49) -- 17-5
NCAA FIRST-YEAR COACHES AT NEW SCHOOL
Coach, School -- W/L -- Last Year
Duquesne eclipsed last year's win total (10-22) in its 15th game - a 69-22 win over GW. The Dukes, who were 3-15 in conference play last year, opened A-10 play 4-1.
This is the third time in 41 A-10 seasons that the Dukes opened conference play 3-0 or better. Duquesne finished no worse than tied for fifth on the other two occasions: a school-record 8-0 start resulted in a tie for 4th at 10-6 in 2011 and a 3-0 start in 2009 produced a t5th finish at 9-7. Duquesne's 5-3 conference start is the best since the 2011 team opened with the eight consecutive wins.
Duquesne had its full roster for the first time this season on Dec. 9 vs. Delaware State (DU was 4-3 at the time). JC transfer Marko Krivacevic missed seven games with a broken bone in his wrist. Grad transfer Chas Brown missed the first four games with a foot injury and senior forward Eric James (knee) missed the Cornell game. Sophomore forward Kellon Taylor, who spent the fall as a receiver for DU's FCS football team, joined the team just prior to Thanksgiving (he was not in uniform for the first two games).
Duquesne has received significant contributions from a pair of freshmen. Six-five swingman Eric Williams Jr. (15.4, 9.7) leads the A-10 with a 9.7 rpg. average - the highest by a Duke since Damian Saunders averaged 11.3 rpg. in 2010. The versatile G/F, who has nine double-doubles, is second on the team with 49 3-pointers and has thrown down a team-high 15 dunks. Williams Jr., who has set DU freshman records for points (34 vs. George Mason) and rebounds (16 vs. Stetson) ranks fifth among Division I freshmen in rebounds per game & tied for fifth in double-doubles (through Jan. 24). Six-nine forward Tydus Verhoeven set a DU freshman record with nine blocks vs. George Mason on Jan. 20. The 6-8 Verhoeven, who has blocked five or more in a game three times, leads the A-10 with 50 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game (2.38 bpg.).
The loss snapped a 10-game home win streak. It was the second-longest home streak in the 30-year history of A.J. Palumbo Center.