Duquesne will start conference play this season on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., as they travel to take on A-10 foe UMass in Amherst.
The Dukes and Minutemen both come into this matchup with a 9-3 record. Each team did well in the month of the December, with the Dukes going 4-1 and the Minutemen finishing 6-2, giving them momentum with the most important part of their schedule about to begin.
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Duquesne is coming off a win against NAIA school Cleary on Saturday, in an easy blowout, 95-47. Senior guard Jimmy Clark III and graduate student forward Dusan Mahorcic led with 15 points each, while sophomore forward David Dixon added a season-high 12 points in the victory.
Their last game against a Division I opponent was an 81-73 loss to Santa Clara in Las Vegas on Saturday, Dec. 23. Duquesne had a 64-56 lead with nine minutes remaining but shot 1-for-14 from the field and 7-for-13 from the foul line the rest of the way, allowing Santa Clara to make a comeback. Senior guard Dae Dae Grant scored a career-high 32 points and tied a career-high with seven 3-pointers in the loss.
Duquesne won the three other games they played last month, which includes an away victory over Marshall on Dec. 6, a home victory against Saint Peter’s on Dec. 8 and then a last second win over Bradley at Lebron James Arena in Akron, Ohio on Dec. 18.
UMass defeated South Florida and UMass Lowell at home, but lost to Towson to begin December. They got a big win over West Virginia in the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Mass. on Dec. 16, before traveling to Hawaii for the Honolulu classic. They lost a close match to Georgia Tech, but got good wins over Portland and Old Dominion to close out the tournament. UMass defeated Siena in their last matchup last Saturday, to close out December with their sixth win of the month.
The teams met twice last year, with each team winning at home. The Minutemen defeated the Dukes at the end of January, 87-79, while Duquesne won its regular season home finale against the Minutemen 88-79.
Grant has been the best player for the Dukes this season, leading the Atlantic-10 with 19.1 points per game. He is also second in the conference shooting 94.7% from the foul line and averages 2.9 3-pointers per game, tied for third most.
Clark joins Grant as two of the top guards in the conference and a great duo for the Dukes to have. He is No. 8 in the conference scoring 16.5 points per game, No. 19 with 1.9 3-pointers per game and No. 25 shooting 71.7% from the line. Clark is also a great distributor for the Dukes, with his 3.8 assists per game and 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio tied for No. 11 and No. 19 in the A-10, respectively.
Sophomore guard Kareem Rozier is another important part of Duquesne’s offense, ranking No. 6 in the Atlantic-10 shooting 45.7% from 3-point range and his 1.8 3-pointers per game tied at No. 20 in the conference. His 2.8 assists per game, tied for No. 23 in the A-10 and second best on the team, shows his versatility and growth in his second collegiate season.
Graduate student forward Andrei Savrasov has come to Duquesne from Georgia Southern for his final collegiate season. The Russian is third on the team with 8.6 points per game and ranks No. 19 in the A-10 shooting 51.3% from the field.
Dixon and fellow sophomore forward Halil Barre have led the Dukes with their blocking this season, as the team ranks No. 6 in the conference with 4.58 blocks per game. Dixon averages 1.9 blocks per game, tied for No. 6 in the A-10, while Barre averages 1.0 blocks per game, tied for No. 13 in the conference.
Duquesne will benefit going forward with the return of the 6-foot-10 Mahorcic, who made his season debut against Santa Clara and played his first full-length game against Cleary. The Serbian is strong in the paint, making shots and grabbing rebounds, as he averaged 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds at NC State last season.
The Minutemen counter the Dukes with a forward duo who have starred for them so far this season in graduate student Josh Cohen and senior Matt Cross.
Cohen transferred in from Saint Francis (Pa.), coming in off last season where he earned NEC Co-Player of the Year honors. He is second in the A-10 scoring 18.0 points per game, just behind Grant, and is third in the conference averaging 61.8% from the field.
Cross is in his second season with UMass after starting with Miami his first season and then playing for Louisville the season after. The preseason All-Conference Third Team selection has shown his talent so far, sixth best averaging 16.7 points per game, No. 12 shooting 53.5% from the field and No. 22 shooting 75.0% from the foul line.
The play of the duo is a large part for why UMass is currently No. 1 in the A-10 averaging 84.1 points per game. The duo also are the reason that UMass ranks both No. 4 in total rebounds, 38.5 per game and No. 1 in offensive rebounds, 13.5 per game, in the A-10.
Cross is grabbing an average 8.3 rebounds per game, tied for No. 2 in the A-10, and is No. 2 with 3.1 offensive rebounds per game, while Cohen averages 6.7 rebounds per game, tied for ninth best in the conference.
The Minutemen also rank No. 1 in the A-10 with a 4.17 turnover margin and No. 3 with a 1.58 assist-to-turnover ratio. This comes from ranking No. 1 in the conference with both 18.0 assists and 9.92 steals per game, respectively.
Cross is second best in the A-10 averaging 2.2 steals per game and No. 15 with 3.4 assists per game. Sophomore guard Keon Thompson averages 3.3 assists per game, tied for No. 16 best in the conference, and 1.7 steals per game, tied for No. 17 in the A-10. Thompson is also best on UMass and No. 8 in the A-10 with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Two other contributors for the Minutemen include guards in junior Rahsool Diggins and first-year Jayden Ndjigue. Diggins makes 2.3 3-pointers per game, tied for No. 6 in the conference, and 1.3 steals per game, tied for No. 17 in the A-10 with Thompson. Ndijgue makes 1.4 steals per game, second best on the team and tied for No. 14 in the A-10.
Duquesne themselves are also a great team when it comes to forcing turnovers, ranking No. 3 in the Atlantic-10 with 7.83 steals per game. Clark leads the conference with 2.3 steals per game, while Sarasov is second on the team and averages 1.2 steals per game, tied for No. 23 in the A-10.
First-year guards in Robert Davis Jr., Marqui Worthy and Jaylen Curry have played all 12 games so far for UMass and will likely feature against Duquesne Wednesday night. Sophomore forward Daniel Hankins-Sanford, a transfer from South Carolina, leads UMass with 0.8 blocks per game, tied for No. 18 in the A-10, all while coming off the bench.
Duquesne has two twins on the team in graduate transfers from La Salle, Foussenyi Drame and Hassan Drame. Foussenyi Drame leads the team and is No. 19 in the A-10 with 6.0 rebounds per game, while Hassan has played in all 12 games. First-year forward Jakub Necas from the Czech Republic has also come off the bench in every game this season, showing his potential and averaging 10.2 minutes per game.
Keys to Victory for Duquesne
UMass is poor from behind the arc, shooting 33.2%, third worst in the A-10, and averaging 7.3 made 3-pointers per game, second least in the conference. They also shoot poorly from the foul line, 68.6%, third worst in the A-10, and their opponents shoot a conference high 73% from the free throw line themselves.
The Minutemen also allow 72.1 points per game, third worst in the conference, something that the Dukes should look to take advantage of, as they average 77.8 points per game themselves, tied for fourth best in the A-10.
The Dukes will need to force the Minutemen to either take 3-point shots and to the foul line as well, without allowing Cross and Cohen to dominate as they have done this season.
Good performances from Clark and Grant, along with a strong defensive approach from the forwards in Dixon, Savrasov and Barre should give Duquesne a great chance to start off with a win in conference play.
Duquesne vs. UMass Odds
UMass is the favored team to win this matchup. BetRivers, ESPNBet and FanDuel both have UMass as the -1.5 favorite, while DraftKings has UMass as a one-point favorite. BetRivers, ESPNBet and DraftKings have the spread at 155.5 points, while FanDuel has it at 156.5 points. The money line, or wager for the team to win, is the same on both BetRivers and FanDuel, with a -125 for UMass to win and +104 for Duquesne to win. On DraftKings and ESPNBet it is EVEN or +100 for Duquesne to win and -120 for UMass to win.
How to Watch
ESPN+ will broadcast the game for fans to stream everywhere. Fans in the Pittsburgh area have the ability to watch the game on television, as SportsNet Pittsburgh is broadcasting the game. Fans in the New England area with NESN also will have the chance to watch it on NESN (New England Sports Network), the sister network of SportsNet.