PREVIEW: North Carolina A&T at @DuqMBB
Dec. 15, 2017
Duquesne (6-3) opens play in the four-game Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at home vs. North Carolina A&T (6-4) on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 12:30 p.m. (Atlantic 10 Network). The N.C. A&T game will be followed by the Duquesne women vs. Central Michigan.
The Dukes, winner of four in a row, will host Lamar on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Classic (Atlantic 10 Network) before traveling to Las Vegas to face San Francisco (FS2 TV) and Southern Illinois (FS1 TV) on Dec. 22 & 23 at Orleans Arena.
DU has limited opponents to 54.3 ppg. on .375 (81-of-216) shooting and are averaging 82.3 ppg. during their current streak. Duquesne held Stetson - which came into the game averaging 78.8 ppg. - to 59 points and Delaware State to 48 in a 49-point win. DU defeated Mississippi Valley State, 73-49 on Wednesday, marking the first time since December of 1968 (57-42 vs. Pitt and 72-48 at Catholic) that a DU team has held back-to-back opponents under 50 points.
The 2017-18 Dukes are limiting opponents to 63.1 points per game. It is the lowest opponent scoring average since 1962 (61.1). Only three opposing teams have topped the 70-point mark against Duquesne this season. The 63.1 ppg. average is a +14.3 ppg. improvement over last season (77.4 ppg.).
The Dukes are 50-of-114 (.439) from the 3-point arc in their past four games, including a school record 18 3's vs. Delaware State (18-of-34).
Eric Williams Jr., who has had at least eight rebounds in every game this season, is the first DU freshman since Bruce Atkins to post five double-doubles in his first nine college games. Atkins, a member of DU's All-Century Team and the only Duquesne two-time first team All-A-10 player, finished with 11 double-doubles as a freshman in 1978-79.
The 6-5 Williams Jr. was named A-10 Rookie of the Week for the second time on Monday after averaging 19.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in DU's three games. Williams Jr. is one of five D-I freshmen - and the only one under 6-11 - averaging a double-double (15.4, 10.7). The other four, Marvin Bagley of Duke, Deandre Ayton of Arizona, Brandon McCoy of UNLV and Mo Bamba of Texas were ESPN.com 5-star recruits.
Rene Castro-Caneddy, posted his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists vs. Delaware State, has 28 assists and five turnovers in his past five games.
Duquesne is 4-1 since grad transfer Chas Brown made his debut on Dec. 1 vs. Pitt. Brown, who was Coppin State's MVP last season, missed the first four games with a foot injury. The 6-8, 235-pounder is currently averaging 4.6 point and 5.0 rebounds in just under 15 min/g.
Tarin Smith is 11-of-20 (.550) from the 3-point arc in his past four games. The 11 3-point makes tie his total in 32 games last season (11-of-52).
DU has made four more free throws than their opponents have attempted (Duquesne is 145-210 from the line, opponents are 88-141).
DU's 94 turnovers are tied for ninth-fewest in the nation (through Thursday's games). The Dukes, who averaged 14.2 turnovers per game last season, have cut their average to 10.4 through nine games.
Duquesne leads the series 2-0 including an 82-56 home win on Nov. 19, 2000 and an 82-69 win in the first round of the Lobo Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. on Nov. 13, 2004.
North Carolina A&T, which is located in Greensboro, N.C., is the third Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team on the 2017-18 schedule. DU owns wins over fellow MEAC members Maryland Eastern Shore (86-61 on Dec. 4) and Delaware State (97-48 on Dec. 9). Duquesne is 15-3 (14-2 at home) against the schools that comprise the current MEAC.
The Aggies have three Division I transfers eligible this season: 5-10 senior guard Aaren Edmead (Wagner), 6-7 sophomore forward Japhet Kadji (Wagner) and 6-8, 233-pound junior forward Femi Olujobi (Oakland). The threesome has three of the top four scoring averages on the team led by Olujobi at 23.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.Olujobi, who hails from Long Island, N.Y., ranked tied for fourth nationally in scoring average through Thursday.
North Carolina A&T, which owns road wins at Jacksonville (90-82 in OT) and at East Carolina (87-81), is coming off a 64-54 home win over Tennessee State on Friday night. The Aggies went four seasons (2014-17) before breaking a 36-game road nonconference losing streak with the win at Jacksonville.
N.C. A&T opened the season 5-1 before losing graduate transfer guard Devonte Boykins (Georgia Southern) for three games (all losses) with a chest injury suffered in the Nov. 26 win at East Carolina. Boykins made his return on Friday with 13 points and four assists in 40 minutes vs. Tennessee State. The Aggies are 6-1 with Boykins in the lineup.
In all, N.C. A&T has nine newcomers on the 2017-18 roster: three Division I transfers (listed above), three junior college transfers, two true freshmen and one graduate transfer.
The Aggies, in their third full season under head coach Jay Joiner, have already exceeded last season's win total (3-29 last year). Their five November wins were the most in school history.
NOTING THE DUKES
Duquesne 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).
Duquesne had its full roster for the first time this season on Dec. 9 vs. Delaware State. 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 considerable contributions from a pair of freshmen. Six-five swingman Eric Williams Jr. (15.4, 10.7) leads the Dukes with a 10.7 rpg. average. - the highest rpg. average by a Duke since Damian Saunders averaged 11.3 rpg. in 2010. The versatile swingman, who has five double-doubles, is second on the team with 20 3-pointers and has thrown down a team-high 10 dunks. Through Sunday, Williams Jr. was one of five Division I freshmen averaging a double-double. Six-nine forward Tydus Verhoeven had the best game of his young career with 12 points, nine rebounds a freshman record-tying seven blocks and three assists vs. Robert Morris on Nov. 19. The 6-8 Verhoeven, who added five more blocks vs. Mississippi Valley State, ranks tied for fifth among the nation's top freshman shot blockers at 2.67 bpg.