PREVIEW: @DuqMBB at Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic
Dec. 20, 2017
Duquesne (8-3), which extended its win streak to six with a 65-64 win over Lamar on Tuesday, leaves the city of Pittsburgh for the first time this season for a pair of Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic games at Orleans Arena. The Dukes will face San Francisco (7-4) on Friday at 8:30 p.m. (FS2) and Southern Illinois at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday (FS1). DU is 2-0 in the Classic with a 74-58 home win over North Carolina A&T on Dec. 17 and the victory over Lamar.
• The Dukes are limiting opponents to 56.5 ppg. and are averaging 78.0 ppg. during their current win streak.
• DU has three wins when shooting under 40% this season. To put that in perspective, Duquesne won just three times in the previous five seasons (45 games) when shooting under 40%.
• The Dukes are 7-1 when holding opponents under 70 points.
• The Dukes, who averaged 14.2 turnovers per game last season, have cut their turnovers to 10.5/g. through 11 games.
• Eric Williams Jr. was 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., who has been named A-10 Rookie of the Week twice this season, is one of four D-I freshmen - and the only one under 6-11 - averaging a double-double (14.2, 10.4) through Tuesday. The other three, Marvin Bagley of Duke, Deandre Ayton of Arizona and Brandon McCoy of UNLV 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 32 assists and eight turnovers in his past six games.
• Duquesne is 6-1 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 4.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in 16 min/g.
• Tarin Smith is 15-of-28 (.536) from the 3-point arc in his past six games. The 15 3-point makes are four more than his total in 32 g. last season (11-of-52).
• Mike Lewis II is 25-of-49 (.510) from the 3-point arc in DU’s past three games.
NOTING THE OPPONENTS
vs. SAN FRANCISCO
• This is the third meeting between the Dukes and Dons, and first at a neutral site. No. 14 (AP) Duquesne won at USF, 90-77, on Feb. 3, 1971 and San Francisco took a 91-83 decision in overtime in the title game of the Golden Gate Tournament on Dec. 20, 1980.
• The Dons, who return all five starters from last year’s 20-13 College Basketball Invitational team that set a school-record with 299 three-pointers, were picked to finish fourth the the West Coast Conference preseason poll behind Gonzaga, St. Mary’s and BYU.
• Six-four guard Charles Minlend and 6-5 guard Jordan Ratinho, who combined for 41 starts, were both named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team.
• USF is in its second season under head coach Kyle Smith. The Dons improved from 316th (78.7 ppg.) to 57th (67.3 ppg.) nationally in scoring defense from 2016 to 2017.
• Nine of USF’s first 11 games have been at home. San Francisco is 0-2 on the road.
vs. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
• This is the first meeting between the Dukes and Salukis who compete in the Missouri Valley Conference.
• SIU returns eight lettermen and three starters - Armon Fletcher, Thik Bol and Sean Lloyd - from last year’s 17-16 team.
• Eligible this year is 6-4 junior guard Marcus Bartley, who began his career at Saint Louis. The Decatur, Ill. native scored a season-high 16 points at Duquesne (4-of-7 3-point) as a freshman. Bartley played in 64 of 64 games with 18 starts in his two seasons at SLU.
• Head coach Barry Hinson is in his sixth season at Southern Illinois. Hinson, who is in his 17th season as a head coach, was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2016.
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). Dambrot’s 8-3 start is the best by a DU first-year coach since John Cinicola also went 8-3 in his first 11 games in 1974-75.
• The 2017-18 Dukes are limiting opponents to 62.7 points per game. It is the lowest opponent scoring average since 1962 (61.1). Only three opposing teams have topped 70 points against Duquesne this season. The 62.7 ppg. average is a +14.7 ppg. improvement over last season (77.4 ppg.).
• Duquesne limited Stetson - which came into the game averaging 78.8 ppg. - to 59 points and held Delaware State to 48 in a 49-point win. DU defeated Mississippi Valley State, 73-49 on Dec. 13, 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.
• 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. (14.2, 10.4) leads the Dukes with a 10.4 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 21 3-pointers and has thrown down a team-high 11 dunks. Through Tuesday, Williams Jr. was one of four 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 eighth among the nation’s top freshman shot blockers at 2.27 bpg.