SCOUTING THE DUKES
Head coach Ron Everhart, a Fairmont, W.Va. native, uses a six- to seven-man rotation. Starting point guard Eric Evans (5-11, 200 lbs.), a Detroit native, started all 34 games last year as a freshman. He will shoot it from anywhere on the floor, and though he has struggled thus far (27.3 shooting from the field, 13.6 3pt.FG) he has the ability to get hot at any time. He will try to take foes off the bounce and either finish toward the rim or kick the ball back out to the hotter shooters. His lower body strength will help him push past defenders, and he will be the strongest player Truck Bryant has matched up with yet this year. Shooting guard Jason Duty (6-1, 180 lbs.) entered last year as a walk-on, but was awarded a scholarship at the end of last season. The senior averages six points and three rebounds, and has taken the second-most three-pointers (40) on the team thus far. He had made just 11, however, and is struggling to find his range early in the year. Duty isn't a great defender, and he doesan't rebound on the offensive end. His assist-to-turnover numbers are solid, though, and he won't make individual mistakes. Swingman B.J. Monteiro (6-5, 190 lbs.) ranks third on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game. The sophomore has significantly polished his skills on the offensive end over the offseason, and is now shooting 50 percent. He hits the glass decently, and can cause issues with some offensive rebounding. Monteiro isn't a major threat from the outside, and he has fouled out twice this year. He likely won't be able to handle Da'Sean Butler on defense, and it seems WVU has an individual edge here.
Forwards Bill Clark (6-5, 205 lbs.) and Damien Saunders (6-7, 210 lbs.) are the top two scorers. Clark averages 17.4, with Saunders a close second at 15.1. Clark can score inside and out and has made 21 of 62 three-pointers this year. He is solid on the line, shows good game awareness and plays tough on-ball defense. The Oak Hill (Va.) product has played in all 72 collegiate career games, and had offers from Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Utah, Nebraska and Providence, among others. Saunders, Everhart's best player, shoots 54 percent and has already amassed more than 100 rebounds this year. His 13.3 rebounds per game average puts him at a double-double each contest, and the Atlantic-10 All-Rookie pick must be slowed if the Mountaineers are to control the game. Saunders averages more than five offensive rebounds an outing, and his putback points are a significant part of his game. He isn't great from three-point range, but his defense (27 steals, 24 blocks) is stellar and his length will push West Virginia. Saunders doesn't have the raw ability of Devin Ebanks, but the battle between the two will be one to watch as this unfolds.
Sixth man Sean Johnson (6-2, 175 lbs.) plays 13 minutes a game and can sub at both guard spots. The freshman can shoot but isn't a natural a scorer. Out of storied Christ the King in Queens, Johnson was the MVP of New York's Catholic High School Athletic Association. Johnson is instant energy off the bench, but is still adjusting to the college game. Everhart is trying to use him as much as possible, but Johnson needs some more time for maturation. Only one other player, Andre Marhold, has played in even seven of the eight games, as Everhart works with a short bench. Marhold (6-6, 205 lbs.) will sub at forward, but averages just 7.7 minutes per game. He is an inside-based player and has yet to take a three or a free throw. Overall, this is a talented but extremely limited squad in numbers. It has the starting skill to beat any Atlantic 10 team, but has such little numbers that it is expected to tire as the season progresses.
Head coach Bob Huggins has noted that Duquesne isn't as big as some of the other non-conference teams West Virginia will play, but the Dukes are long and they play a bit longer than they are. That could make rebounding more of an issue than it has recently been, with Everhart starting forwards of 6-5 and 6-7. That's not huge, but both are lanky and athletic. WVU must get a body on foes and needs to contest shots within the arc. The three taller starters are the scorers, and can drive it and have decent range. There's a smattering of young talent and experience on the roster, and though this Dukes' team isn't as talented as the Mountaineers, it is the best collective group in Everhart's tenure and the best Duquesne team to face West Virginia in a decade. Just one team has shot better than 40 percent against the Dukes this year, and Duquesne is flashing the ability to score from all over. DU played Pitt well, but it has not seen the rugged physicality that Huggins will challenge it with tonight. Look for West Virginia to use its superior skill to disrupt Duquesne's offensive sets, and for its shooting and transition points to win it on the offensive end.
|Wed. Dec. 9
7:00 p.m. EST
WVU 5-0, 0-0
DU 6-2, 0-0
Big East Network
WVU - 2
DU - 88
WVU: Joe Mazzulla (Shoulder) Will Play, Devin Ebanks (Hand) Will Play, Casey Mitchell (Knee) Questionable
DU: Melquan Bolding (Fractured Wrist) – Out.
West Virginia is looking for its 28th consecutive home December win. The Mountaineers have won 26 home non-conference games in a row, and are winning home games by an average of almost 20 points under Huggins.
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Huggins is 3-0 against Duquesne and 3-0 against Everhart. Two of the three head-to-head coaching victories came at WVU. The other was at Cincinnati in 1995, when Everhart was at McNeese State.
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The Dukes have lost 13 in a row to Big East teams. Seven of those losses were to Pitt; six were to West Virginia. Duquesne is trying to finish with a winning record for the third consecutive season under Everhart, who has made win improvements of seven and four, respectively, in the last two years. Name the most recent consecutive trio of winning seasons at Duquesne. Answer at end of preview.
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This will be just the fourth meeting between the schools when West Virginia is ranked. The Dukes have lost the previous three, in 1982, '94 and '97. The Mountaineers were rated 11th, 19th and 23rd, respectively. Duquesne did win its last game against a Top 10 ranked foe, beating No. 9 Xavier on Feb. 7, 2009. A win against WVU would give DU back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams for the first time since 1962.
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Answer: The Dukes have not pieced together three straight winning seasons since 1968-73, under head coach Red Manning. After that six-year streak, Duquesne has not managed three consecutive winning seasons in more than 40 years.