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Duquesne: Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

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Dukes travel to Brooklyn to take on St. Lous Wednesday at 9 PM

Duquesne (11-18, 6-12, 11 seed) and Saint Louis (11-20, 3-15, 14 seed) will meet for a rubber match in the first round of play-in games at the Atlantic 10 Championship tournament Wednesday night in Brooklyn.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry said. “Our guys should have confidence going in.”

Duquesne enters the tournament playing some of the best basketball they have all season. Winners of three of their last five, Duquesne came into the regular season finale against Davidson a win away from earning a bye from the first round of play in games. Duquesne hung with the eventual Atlantic 10 champions throughout most of the first half, but the Wildcats’ offense was relentless, leading Duquesne to surrender a season-high 107 points in the loss.

Saint Louis comes in on a four-game losing streak that started with its loss to Duquesne on Feb. 25. The Billikens’ season started off on the right note, opening 8-4, but a 3-15 conference record sunk them to the bottom of the Atlantic 10 standings.

Both teams have struggled away from home this season, posting identical 2-11 records in away/neutral site matches, but Duquesne guard Micah Mason is optimistic about Duquesne’s abilities to adapt in the team’s second neutral site game of the year.

“It’s easier for us to get used to the game (in a neutral site),” Mason said. “There’s no real advantage (for either team).”

In their first game at Saint Louis on Jan. 14, the Dukes went 13-for-34 at the free throw line, including 5-for-16 in the second half. Saint Louis was led by guard Ash Yacobou, who grabbed 10 boards and had a game high 18 points, while Mason was the only Duke to reach double-digits.

Duquesne would get their revenge at home on Feb. 25, with Mason leading the Dukes’ offense again, this time with 20. Four Dukes reached double digits, due in part to a much better 16-for-20 performance from the line. Milik Yarbrough led Saint Louis with 20 points.

Tip-off is Wednesday at 9 p.m. The winner will advance to play No. 6 seed George Washington (20-11, 10-8), a team Duquesne beat earlier this year and Saint Louis lost to by just three points.

Players to watch:
Duquesne forward Domonique McKoy
Duquesne’s lone senior, McKoy comes into the tournament on a hot streak, averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds and a .667 shooting percentage in his last three contests, but in Duquesne’s loss to Saint Louis on Jan. 14, he made only 1 of his 10 free throw attempts. He redeemed himself in the second contest by making 6 of 8 free throws, but another poor performance at the line may be costly.

Saint Louis forward Milik Yarbrough
The Billikens will need to rely on their 6-6 freshman to grab the tough rebounds if they expect to win. Saint Louis as a team only averaged 30.4 boards a game, far less than Duquesne’s 36.1. Yarbrough also turned the ball over four times in Saint Louis’ loss to the Dukes, and for a team that averaged 14 turnovers a game, maintaining possession will be key.Duquesne Micah Mason

What to watch for:
Duquesne: Guards
Mason and his backcourt partner Derrick Colter have developed into one of the best 3-point shooting duos in the A-10. Mason is a career .487 shooter from downtown, while Colter shot at a .439 clip this year from. But the two have not shot as well away from home, going a combined .319 from behind the arc on the road this year. Still, Colter’s 13.2 PPG and Mason’s 79 buckets from 3-point range show that they are Duquesne’s best shooting options.

Saint Louis: Bench
Only one player for Saint Louis averaged more than 25 minutes per game this season (Yacoubou with 26.2). For a team that features 13 underclassmen to just four upper, Saint Louis is going to need to get quality minutes from its backups, who are not experienced in tournament play. In the two matchups earlier this season, wing Mike Crawford was the one who delivered off the bench, scoring a combined 23 points and picking up six assists in 39 minutes. The Billikens could use another clutch performance from the sophomore.

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