Preview: WVU - Duquesne

West Virginia returns home for the first of a string of must wins -- this one against Duquesne.


Three newcomers are plaing a big role as starters for Duquesne through two games this year. Juco guard transfer Tra'Vaughn White (Jr., 5-10) leade the team with 19 points per game, continuing the scoring prowess he displayed a year ago at independence CC. Fellow juco Dominique McKoy (F, Jr., 6-8) has been strong in both socring (12.0 ppg) and rebouding (7.5), while ex-UAB Blazer Ovie Soko (F, Sr., 6-8) is tallying a double-double with 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Two returnees wo played big minutes as true freshmen round out the starting lineup, giving Duquesne consistent threats across the lineup. Jeremiah Jones (F, So., 6-3) started 22 games a year ago and is averaging seven points per outing this year, while Derrick Colter (G, So., 5-11) has blossomed as a scorer with 17.5 points per game.

Off the bench guard Micah Mason (G, So., 6-2) is also averaging seven points per outing, but more importantly has recorded eight assists against no turnovers. That has helped the Dukes post a team 2-1 assist to turnover ratio -- a number that only the better individual ballhandlers typically approach.L.G. Gill (F, Fr., 6-7) provides support up front off the bench with 4.0 rebounds per contest.

Like West Virginia, the Dukes underwent a massive offseason overhaul after a disappointing 2013-14 season. Only three scholarship players return from last year's squad out of a total of ten that had eligibility remaining. That said, Duquesne does look to have a flexible mix of forwards and guards that can score from different areas on the court. Rebounding could be an issue, however.


West Virginia was dealt a painful lesson in continuing effort in its loss to Virginia Tech -- will the Mountaineers make that part of their makeup going forward, or will it fail to sink in?
Game Info
Sat 11/17
4:00 PM E

WVU 1-1, 0-0
DU 1-1, 0-0
WVU 50-37
Root Pitts
Sirius/XM: NA
WVU - 284
DU - 288
There's no doubt, at least in the mind of Bob Huggins, that his team's intensity dropped after boiling out to a 17-point first half lead. While a similar start can't be predicted in this game, it will be interesting to see how WVU's effort and execution play out over long stretches, especially among the newcomers. For most of those players, a 15-point lead in high school or junior college meant a win was coming, and that the heavy lifting was done. That notion was rudely rejected, much like 13 of WVU's shot attempts, against the Hokies.

Another aspect of the game to watch is fouls. Although this topic has been beaten to death over the first week of the season, it bears scrutiny in this game because Duquesne hasn't fouled that much. DU has committed only 33 total fouls in its first two games, while the Mountaineers have ahcked and bumped their way to 44.

For a team that doesn't have a great deal of depth, this is a key issue. Not only has WVU seen two players foul out this season, it has also had almost all of its big men facing foul trouble in both games. That keeps them from playing as aggressively as they might like, and also contributes to some of the defensive breakdowns that have plagued the Mountaineers in both of its games to date.

It's tempting to say that West Virginia should win this game, but that would be based on perceptions not necessarily based in reality. The Mountaineers do have a size advantage, but the WVU bigs didn't display a great deal of athleticism last week, so smaller players with some bounce might be able to offset that height advantage. West Virginia has failed to outrebound both of its opponents to date, and if it can't outjump its opponents, it has to do a better job of boxking them out and keeping them away from second chances on the offensive end.


Remi Dibo showed why Bob Huggins recruited him as a shooter, as he made five threes against Tech to keep WVU in the contest. He won't be expected to maintain that rate every game, but if he can make a couple each time out he can provide court balance for Nathan Adrian, who can also shoot over defenders from distance on the opposite side of the court. That combination can keep West Virginia in games that it couldn't stay in a year ago.

On the flip side, defense is still an issue for Dibo and the Mountaineer newcomers. Help against penetrators has especially been lacking, and must be improved dramatically if WVU is to come out on the plus side of the win column in November and December.

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Duquesne has only faced one team more times than West Virginia, and contrary to the most obvious first guess, it's not Pitt. The Dukes have squared off against St. Bonaventure 110 times, followed by WVU (87) and Pitt (81).

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Juwan Staten holds a 6.5 to 1 assists-to-turnover ratio so far, whcih puts him third in the league in that category. He's also first in minutes played (39.5), having sat out less than a minute against Virginia Tech.

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Duquesne was founded in 1878 by the Holy Ghost Fathers, also known as the Spiritans or Congregation of the Holy Spirit.

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