Duquesne features a pair of swingmen who complement each other nicely. Elijah Palmer (6-7, 225) and Jimmy Tricco (6-8, 205) lead the Dukes in scoring with averages of 15.3 and 12.5 per game, respectively. Tricco is the outside threat, hitting 40% of his three-point attempts, while Palmer provides inside punch, gathering eight rebounds per game.
At center, big Ron Dokes (6-8, 255) is only recording eight points and two boards per contest, but he had a monster game against the Mountaineers last year (see more in our matchup section).
Backups along the front line include Jon Pawlak (6-9, 205) and Kieron Achara (6-9, 240). Pawlak sat out last season as a redshirt, and contributes 6.8 points per game, while Acahara, in limited action, adds 3.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.
The backcourt features a pair of solid starters in Bryant McAllister (6-3, 185) and Martin Osimani (6-4, 205). McAllister has only four turnovers in 101 minutes of action, and tosses in 8.3 points per game. Osimani averages just four points, but runs the offense adequately and leads the team in assists with more than four per contest.
The top sub off the bench is Ryan Tricco, the younger brother of Jimmy. Tricco scores 5.3 points per game, and is another threat to be watched from three point land.
West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle vs. Duquesne center Ron Dokes
Last year, WVU couldn't begin to stop the bullish Dokes, who put up 29 points and seven rebounds against the Mountaineers in an 86-82 Dukes win. While Dokes figures to do some damage again, it's up to Pittsnogle to offset it in a couple of different ways.
|Sat 12/13 7:00 p.m.|
WVU 3-2, 0-0
DU 2-2, 0-0
WVU - 53/92
DU - 274/259
|Margin: WVU +21|
In the reverse matchup, Kevin must be more aggressive in going after the ball, whether it's when Dokes is shooting or the ball is coming off the glass. While it's not fair to expect him to push Dokes around or physically dominate him, Kevin must use his superior height to bother Dokes' shot and keep a few rebounds away from him.
Head coach John Beilein notes that he is willing to give up points on one end in matchups of this type, so long as they are countered, or exceeded, on the other end of the floor. Last year Dokes outscored Pittsnogle by ten. If that margin can be equalized, WVU should be in good shape in this long-standing rivalry.
WVU: Nick Patella (Concussion) Questionable
Other than Plamer, who gets a number of close in shots, Duquesne doesn't shoot the ball particularly well. Tricco is a three-point threat, but he shoots almost as well from that distance as he does from elsewhere on the court.
West Virginia does not fare well in opponent field goal percentage, but much of that is due to the fact that the Mountaineers give up so many close in shots, especially after offensive rebounds. Other than D'or Fischer and Tyrone Sally, WVU's defense in the paint is often very passive, so opponents tend to get a good look at the basket. That's an area that the Mountaineers must improve upon. They don't have to block shots. They simply need to put some pressure on shooters that are close to the hoop.
If West Virginia can keep Duquesne from having another career night on the boards, the Mountaineers should be in good shape to start this important homestand off right.
WVU is scoring more points in its losses (74.0 per game) than in its wins (72.7).
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Duquesne has played WVU more times (78) than any other team except St. Bonaventure (91).
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If the numbers are any guide, this should be a ballhandlers' game. Duquesne averages just 12.5 turnovers per outing, while WVU, with a reputation for protecting the rock, has just over 15 per game.
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George von Benko, the first host of the Statewide Sportsline radio show, is the color commentator for Duquesne.
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Nine of the 16 players on Duquesne's roster are from Pennsylvania. The Dukes also feature two international players, who, like WVU's Pittsnogle and Joe Herber, played for their national teams. Center Keiron Achara (Scotland) and junior transfer Martin Osimani (Uruguay) both played for their countries this past year.