Dukes Take on the Hawks in The Palestra

This seems more like it. Duquesne (12-5; 3-1 A-10) is the underdog heading into Wednesday night's matchup with Saint Joseph's (9-7; 3-0) away from Hawk Hill in The Palestra on the University of Pennsylvania's campus. A free videocast of the game is available at channelsurfing.net.

According to AmericasLine.com, Duquesne started out getting nine points; the disadvantage is now seven.

The Palestra was the home court for all Big 5 (La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph', Temple, Villanova) games for many years until it became advantageous to play intra-conference games in a campus facility.

SJU's Alumni Fieldhouse, which is undergoing renovations and is set to reopen in 2010, seats 3,200 -- the capacity of The Palestra is 8,722. St. Joe's crowd's are averaging 5,915. The Hawks are 3-3 through six games at this facility. The losses were to Creighton, Siena and Drexel. The only A-10 game was last Wednesday's 92-86 triple overtime win over Rhode Island.

The Hawks, who have a four-game winning streak, were 2-3 in November, 3-4 in December and are 4-0 this month.

Saint Joseph's starts one sophomore, two juniors and two seniors who could be in contention for an Iron Hawks moniker. Each averages at least 28.6 minutes of play, led by 6-foot-9 preseason All-A-10 first teamer senior Ahmad Nivins at a league-leading 39.1 mpg.

The guards, all of whom can run the point, are 6-foot-1 junior Darrin Govens (13.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.9 apg), 6-foot-4 senior Tasheed Carr (12.6, 4.6, 3.6) and 6-foot-5 junior Garrett Williamson (5.1, 3.4, 5.3). At forward are Nivins (19.6, 11.0, 1.1) and 6-foot-7 sophomore Idris Hilliard (8.5, 5.5, 1.3)

Nivins is the only A-10 player averaging a double-double; he's at number one rebounding and #3 scoring.

Three bench players see about 10 minutes a game: 6-foot-8 freshman Bryant Irwin (3.0, 1.6, 0.3), 5-foot-11 sophomore Charoy Bentley (1.7, 0.6, 0.4) and 6-foot-1 freshman Chris Prescott (2.8, 0.5, 0.4). The reserves have accounted for just 127 points out of 1,084, 11.7 percent of the total points scored.

The Hawks' opponents are averaging 64.6 ppg: Duquesne's average is 79.0 ppg.

Duquesne averages 34.9 rebounds per game to SJU's 33.7. The Dukes have a plus 0.3 rebounding margin; St. Joe's is minus 1.6 on the boards.

Coach Phil Martelli has a 14-year record at 270-159 at SJU, the second most wins at the Philadelphia main line school. He was an assistant coach on John Griffin's staff when named head coach in 1995-96.

This is one team that is getting it done at the free throw line. St. Joe's leads the league with a 72.1 percent average; the Dukes come in at 68.8%.

In other news, two Duquesne recruits were named athletes of the week by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Senior Jocelyn Floyd from Washington High School recorded three consecutive triple doubles in a trio of Little Prexies' victories last week. And junior T.J. McConnell of Chartiers Valley H.S. averaged 21.7 points in three games last week. He scored 30 points in the Friday's 92-52 win over Montour and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career.

Finally, today's Trib reports that DU senior Aaron Jackson's bruised tailbone might keep him out of the lineup. We expect he will see action, probably should not meet his 34.9 mpg average. But won't be surprised if he does.

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