Preview: Men’s basketball vs Duquesne

Media Credit: File photo by Madeleine Cook | Senior Staff Photographer

Sophomore guard Terry Nolan Junior prepares to take a free throw shot during last Saturday's game against Richmond.

Who: Men’s basketball
Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Sunday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m.

Men’s basketball (6-11, 2-2 A-10) returns to the Smith Center to host Duquesne (12-5, 3-1 A-10) in the first of two face-offs between the programs this season.

The Colonials most recently battled La Salle on the road and came back in the second half to beat the Explorers after a 14-point first half performance. The Dukes are coming in hot on a three-game win streak that was extended after Duquesne beat Richmond 74–68 in the Spiders’ home territory.

When the two teams met last season, Duquesne came away with a two-point win at the Smith Center early in January before rolling past the Colonials by 17 points in their second meeting on the road.

Case for the Colonials:

The Colonials head into Sunday’s game with a big win over La Salle under their belts. While the Explorers are one of the bottom-four teams in the league alongside GW, the comeback win showcased the young team’s ability to battle through tight games.

The duo of sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. and redshirt junior guard DJ Williams lead the Colonials with 12.9 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. Overall, the GW’s top-five scorers have a slightly higher combined points-per-game average than Duquesne’s, but the Dukes are far more efficient from the field, meaning GW will have to make every shot count. The Colonials will need to be picky with their shot selection Sunday to give themselves the best opportunity to keep up with Duquesne’s shooting.

The Colonials have put up above average rebounding numbers in three of their last four contests and will need to keep up that effort against Duquesne to limit extra possessions for the Dukes. Sophomore guard Maceo Jack has been effective for the Colonials under the glass behind Nolan and Williams, the team’s top-two rebounders. If the Colonials crash the glass with gusto, they should be able to earn crucial extra possessions.

Case for the Dukes:

Duquesne is coming off a solid win over Richmond, the same opponent that downed GW by 20 points on Jan. 12. Averaging 73.9 points per game, the Dukes are the third-highest scoring offense in the Atlantic 10 and average 43.4 percent shooting. Opponents score an average of 70.2 points per game against GW, and the Dukes should have no problem topping that mark. Duquesne is 12-5 on the season – but 10 of those wins had the team putting up at least 70 points.

Sophomore center Michael Hughes will be a dominating presence underneath the rim for Duquesne. Hughes ranks fifth in the conference averaging 1.5 blocks per game, but tallied four in the Dukes’ most recent win over Richmond. The Colonials had trouble penetrating the paint against La Salle early in the game and only managed four made field goals in the first 20 minutes of play against the Explorers. If Duquesne clogs the paint and forces GW to shoot from distance, the Dukes should be able to contain the Colonials’ shooting.

As GW’s primary ball handler, sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla turns the ball over almost as many times as he dishes out assists, and ranks second to last in the A-10 with an assist to turnover ratio of 1.2. With Duquesne’s defense leading the conference with 8.7 steals per game, the Dukes will likely be disrupting GW’s offensive possessions and picking up extra possessions and points. Freshman guard Sincere Carry has 50 swipes so far this season – tied for first in the conference – and will likely be a nuisance for GW on defense.

Bottom line:

Both teams are coming off big wins from last week but Duke beating Richmond does not bode well for GW. The Colonials will need solid passing and airtight defense to compete with Duquesne’s high-scoring offense and pickpocket-prone defense.

The Colonials were able to pull off a win against La Salle after a slow start Wednesday night, but if GW starts the same way against Duquesne, the Dukes will have the game in the bag. Duquesne is 5–1 in games decided by five points or fewer, so if GW can keep up with Duquesne’s offense and the game goes down to the wire, the odds will be tipped in the Dukes’ favor.

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