Duquesne Basketball is 9-3 through the non-con campaign and is fully healthy to start league play. What do they need to do to beat UMass on the road?
After a 38-point win over NAIA program Cleary, Duquesne Basketball has won 5 of 6 games ahead of a matchup with the UMass Minutemen to open A-10 play. Coach Frank Martin's team was a disaster last season but so far, they've been better than expected. They're 9-3 as well, including wins over South Florida and West Virginia.
As road underdogs, the Dukes will need some things to go their way in order to win. Here are three keys I'm watching out for in this contest.
1. Deal with the star frontcourt dup of Cohen and Cross
Duquesne may have the most depth of any A-10 frontcourt but UMass has arguably the best players not named DaRon Holmes. Saint Francis (PA) transfer Josh Cohen leads the team with 18.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg, while Matt Crossarguably, one of the few pieces who stuck around, is averaging 16.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg.
Not only are these two efficient from the field but they combine for 13 FTA on the season. The good news is that the Dukes have plenty of depth to counter them, with the recent returns of Dusan Hahorcic and Tre Williams back, along with David Dixon (1.9 bpg) being one of the top shot-blockers in the nation. As long as the Dukes don't get into too much foul trouble, it could be a nice matchup for them overall.
2. Run Rahsool Diggins off the 3-point line
On the season, UMass ranks 203rd nationally from 3PT with 33% on 7.3 makes a game. But only two players have more than 11 made shots on the roster in freshman Robert Davis Jr. (18/53) and Rahsool Diggins (27/69). Diggins averaged 4.7 ppg last season after transferring over from UConn but has been a lead guard this time around, scoring 11.5 ppg on 39% shooting from both the field and deep.
With the bigs getting all of the attention inside, Duquesne can't afford to allow the Minutemen make shots from deep. If they can keep Diggins in check, that'll go a long way in the matchup.
3. More from Kareem Rozier
One obvious key for Duquesne Basketball winning the game will be the star guards playing well. Dae Dae Grant (19.1 ppg) and Jimmy Clark (16.5 ppg and 3.8 apg) have had big games but can be inefficient. Plus, the Dukes don't have any other real offensive threats in the backcourt outside of sophomore guard, Kareem Rozier.
On the season, Rozier is averaging 7.6 ppg and 2.8 apg on 43% shooting from the field on 46% from deep. But the 5'9 guard hasn't had much of an impact on offense after his 16-point outing versus Nebraska, scoring 27 combined points in the last six games. With the frontcourt having its hands full and Grant/Clark only able to do so much, Duquesne will need Rozier to come through to get this road win.