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Not a fair fight

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Duquesne simply not ready to make the City Game a rivalry

PITTSBURGH - The Duquesne and Pitt basketball relationship is a big brother/little brother one. Big brother dominates, but every once in awhile there is hype around the little brother.

But big brother didn’t get to be big brother by letting little brother win, and that’s what happened at the Consol Energy Center Friday night.

Pitt’s 96-75 thrashing was a wake-up call for Duquesne. The Dukes may have been 6-1, but Pitt was better.

“We came in very confident about today,” senior guard Micah Mason said. “We just didn’t get the job done.

Mason will graduate from Duquesne losing by a combined 52 points in his three City Games.

In 1988, Duquesne beat Pitt 80-76 to take a 29-28 series advantage. Since then, Pitt is 25-2. Duquesne hasn’t won since 2000. Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon has never lost to the Dukes.

This year looked like it could have been the slump-buster for Duquesne. They entered with a better record (6-1 to 4-1), more points per game (86.7 to 83.2) and their much-talked about senior backcourt of Derrick Colter and Mason. And with Duquesne sleepwalking to a win Tuesday and Pitt losing at home, Vegas started to take notice too, cutting the spread from 10.5 points to seven.

Then Pitt took a 25-6 lead eight minutes in and all the air was let out of the balloon. To add insult to injury, Duquesne was given a free throw attempt on a Pitt technical before tipoff. The Dukes were spotted a point and were being blown away before the second time out.

Colter called his team’s defense “soft.” Ferry said it was their worst defensive performance of the season.

“We just couldn’t stop them,” Ferry said.

Mason was invisible. Duquesne couldn’t stop James Robinson (18 points) or Sterling Smith (16 points, 11 rebounds in 29 minutes). The Dukes tried to run their offense through Darius Lewis early and it was disastrous, having to wait until 14:23 to get their first field goal.

Anyone who watched the game could continue to give a laundry list of things the Dukes did wrong, but the short answer is “Duquesne still isn’t ready to make this a real rivalry again.”

Pitt’s Smith and Rafael Maia, both graduate transfers in their first season with the Panthers, said their was extra motivation to prepare for Friday because of the history of the game. Jamie Dixon complimented Duquesne multiple times during his press conference and said that they had a good team. But none of that matters if only one team wins year after year. Steelers-Browns is still labeled as a rivalry, but it’s lost its pizazz because the Steelers consistently win. Why should this be any difference? What is the reward for the players or fans to watch a game that Duquesne was losing by double-digits for over 35 minutes?

The Dukes are on the right track, but losing in this fashion is a tough pill to swallow. They’re still 6-2, and a 10-13 finish down the stretch would give them a winning record, which would be a huge step in re-legitimizing the program.

Until then, the City Game will remain big brother picking on little brother.

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