Lamar Basketball: Previewing the Duquesne Dukes

Lewis II, Mike (7)
Sophomore Mike Lewis II and the Duquesne Dukes come into Tuesday night having won five straight games, and will look to make it six straight against Lamar. (Source: The Duquesne Duke)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — One of Tuesday’s best games will take place in Pittsburgh, as the red-hot Duquesne Dukes welcome the Lamar Cardinals to town in a Campus Game associated with the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.

It marks the second of two campus games for both teams. The Cardinals fell on the road to the Southern Illinois Salukis in their last outing, while the Dukes notched their fifth straight win with a defeat of the North Carolina A&T Aggies.

Lamar will take part in the Visitors’ Bracket of the event, while Duquesne will be in the Host’s Bracket. The 2017 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic will take place on December 22nd and 23rd.

Tuesday presents both teams with another opportunity to keep up their positive momentum. Both Lamar and Duquesne have five game winning streaks this season, and the Dukes come in looking to extend their current streak to six games. Lamar is looking to get back on track after seeing their streak come to an end against the Salukis.

Here’s everything you need to know in advance of Tuesday’s tilt in the Steel City.Scouting Report

Duquesne enters Tuesday night with a 7-3 record, and they’ve played all of their games on their home floor. They’ve found a groove on their home floor as of late, having won five straight games. All five wins have come by at least 14 points, and all seven of their wins on the season have been by double figures.

Four of their five wins over their current winning streak have come against teams from the MEAC or SWAC, which aren’t the strongest conferences out there. However, it takes talent to win five straight at the Division I level, regardless of your opponent, and the Dukes are one of the hotter teams in the NCAA right now.

Guard Mike Lewis II leads the way for the Dukes, averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting 42.0% from three point range on the season. After a strong freshman campaign in 2016-17, Lewis has picked up right where he left off in 2017-18, and has become the face of the Duquesne program in his second year.

Add in the veteran presence of Rene Castro-Caneddy, and the emergence of freshman Eric Williams Jr., who is one of just five freshmen across the country averaging a double-double this season, and the Dukes have one of the more underrated back courts in the country.

As for Lamar, they saw their five-game winning streak come to an end against Southern Illinois in their last outing. They’re looking to bounce back with a big road win, and end the Dukes’ winning streak in the process.

The Cardinals enter with an 8-2 record on the year, and have looked like a top contender for the Southland Conference title, as many projected them to be before the season tipped off. They have a wealth of experience across the roster, and when you factor in the talent that goes with the experience, it becomes a dream scenario for the coaching staff.

Leading the way for Lamar is senior forward Colton Weisbrod, a First Team All-Southland selection last season and our Preseason Southland Conference Player of the Year. The native of Nederland, TX is one of four Lamar players to average double-digit points per game, posting a team-high 14.7 points to go along with 9.0 rebounds. Against the Salukis, Weisbrod went for 14 points and 19 rebounds in the Cardinals’ 10-point loss, and has scored in double-figures each time out this season.

On the back end, the Cardinals have their own talented trio that will look to negate the attack of the Dukes’ rotation. Nick Garth (11.7 ppg, 2.8 apg) is one of the top reserves in the nation, and Zjori Bosha (11.0 ppg, 3.0 spg) is one of the top defenders in the country. Add in Joey Frenchwood, and the Cardinals boast a veteran back court that impacts the game on both ends of the floor.

Tuesday marks the first-ever meeting between Duquesne and Lamar on the hardwood, and fans will be in for a treat come Tuesday night.


Players to Watch

Lamar – Josh Nzeakor

Junior forward Josh Nzeakor may not grab the headlines for the Cardinals, but he’s been a consistent presence inside over the Cardinals’ first 10 games of the season. He has scored in double figures on seven occasions, and has a pair of double-doubles on his resume this season. Nzeakor has scored at least eight points in each of his last nine games, and has at least five rebounds in nine games. Against the Dukes, the 6’8” Nzeakor and the rest of the Cardinals will look to take advantage of a Duquesne front court that isn’t known to produce a whole lot on either end of the floor.


Duquesne – Mike Lewis II

On any given night, sophomore guard Mike Lewis II is a threat to go off for a 20-point game and carry the Dukes to a victory. He already has four 20+ point performances to his name this season, including a 29-point outing against the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks. Lewis and freshman Eric Williams Jr. give the Dukes one of the top young guard tandems in the Atlantic 10, and they already have Duquesne flying high. If Lewis can get hot early on against the Cardinals, the Dukes could put some distance between themselves and Lamar before the break, and that could be the difference when the game is said and done.


Prediction

Both teams have similar statistics on both ends of the floor this season. Lamar is averaging 78.9 points per game on offense, while the Dukes are averaging 75.4 points. On defense, Duquesne is holding opponents to an average of 62.6 points per game, while Lamar isn’t far behind, at 63.7 points per game.

The Cardinals are among the nation’s best in terms of steals, ranking sixth in the NCAA with an average of 11.0 steals per contest. Lamar is active on the defensive end, and that causes problems for their opponents. Tuesday’s tilt will be a close one, but the Cardinals’ ability to disrupt opposing offenses will lead them to a narrow victory on the road.

Lamar: 66
Duquesne: 62

– T. Bennett