Duquesne (8-7) at Virginia Commonwealth (13-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Siegel Center (7,617) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Duquesne 5-4, VCU 8-0. Away Record: Duquesne 3-2, VCU 2-2. Neutral Record: Duquesne 0-1, VCU 3-2. Conference Record: Duquesne 1-2, VCU 1-1. Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Commonwealth Rams will attempt to stay unbeaten at the Siegel Center on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Duquesne Dukes to town for an Atlantic 10 Conference bout.
Since opening its A-10 slate of games with an 87-81 victory versus Fordham on Jan. 8, Duquesne has followed that up with back-to-back losses against La Salle (75-56) and at Saint Joseph's (84-75). The Dukes are now 8-7 overall this season and have faired pretty well on the road, winning three out of five.
VCU is also coming off a loss in its most recent contest, as it fell at George Washington on Tuesday night, 76-66, to snap a five-game winning streak. The Rams, who are 13-4 on the campaign and 1-1 in league action, have won all eight games at home this season and have claimed 13 in a row at the Siegel Center dating back to last season.
In the first-ever meeting between the teams last season, No. 22 VCU downed Duquesne in Pittsburgh, 90-63.
The Dukes fell behind Saint Joseph's at halftime of their most recent game by 32 points, and even after improving their first goal percentage from .222 in the first half to .488 in the second stanza, the deficit proved to be insurmountable. Derrick Colter and Jerry Jones were both solid in the loss with 14 points apiece, with the duo combining to shoot 8-of-15 from 3-point territory. Ovie Soko and Dominique McKoy also chipped in with 10 points each.
On the season, Duquesne has established a theme of piecing together strong offensive performance (.450 FG percentage, 77.9 ppg) while showing an inability to stop anyone on the other end (.455, 75.5 ppg). Soko is the catalyst with 17.9 ppg and 8.1 rpg, and while his .440 field-goal percentage is less than ideal for a forward, he has been active and effective from the free-throw line (97-of-134). Tra'Vaughn White (11.3 ppg), McKoy (10.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Colter (10.1 ppg) round out the team's double-digit scorers.
VCU fell behind George Washington by seven at the half of its latest contest and was never able to recover on its way to the 10-point loss, as it shot just 36.8 percent from the field (including 9-of-28 from 3-point range) while allowing GW to make good on more than 56 percent of its tries from the floor. Rob Brandenburg paced the losing effort with 17 points, while Treveon Graham and Melvin Johnson chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively.
It was a rare performance for the Rams, who, despite shooting just 41.8 percent from the field compared to 44.2 percent for their opponents, score 75.1 ppg, while allowing just 64.9 ppg. The main reason for the strong scoring margin is due to their relentless pursuit of the passing lanes, as they rank first in the nation in both steals per game (12.9) and turnover margin (+8.1). No one is better at swiping the ball than Briante Weber (8.7 ppg), who leads the nation with 3.8 spg. Graham scores a team-best 15.5 ppg, while adding 6.6 rpg, Juvonte Reddic (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) is usually the team's only starting forward and Johnson (10.5 ppg) and Brandenberg (9.8 rpg) bring added balance to the squad.
Duquesne has been far from a pushover this season, as it has shown with its solid road record, but VCU has been infallible on its home floor and should have no problem continuing that trend here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 82, Duquesne 68
01/18 10:26:38 ET