GAME NOTES: Appalachian State is hoping to win a road game for the first time this season, but faces a Duquesne squad on Thursday that is hitting its stride.
Although they have dropped all six of their true road tests thus far, the Mountaineers recently won back-to-back games for the first time this season with easy wins over Milligan and Bluefield College. In the latest victory, Mike Neal erupted for 23 points and made four of the Mountaineers' 10 3- pointers as they cruised to a 97-70 rout.
Appalachian State made 63.2 percent of its shots and basically led wire-to- wire, a stark contrast to the Mountaineers' slow start to the campaign when they were facing stiffer competition. The 3-point efficiency against Bluefield was a welcome change, as the club is making just 29.4 percent of its shots from behind the arc this season. Tab Hamilton is the best 3-point threat, as he his making 36.1 percent of his shots from long distance, which has him leading the team at 13.8 ppg.
Neal falls next in line at 12.6 ppg, while Tevin Baskin is right behind at 12.0 ppg. Chris Burgess has protected the ball well this season, averaging better than a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio while also chipping in 8.8 ppg. Michael Obacha is a solid rebounder on both the offensive and defensive glass and is pulling down an average of 9.9 boards each time out. Opponents though, are shooting 46.6 percent from the floor against Appalachian State, which is connecting on just 42.0 percent of its shots.
Duquesne is also allowing teams to shoot nearly 46.0 percent from the floor, but the Dukes have rattled off three consecutive road wins and held Texas-Pan American to 38.9 percent shooting in the second half of Sunday's 88-69 triumph. Ovie Soko led the team in scoring for the seventh time this season, notching 21 points, while Michael Mason delivered 14 thanks to 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.
The Dukes have a plethora of scoring options, as five players are averaging double digits on the season. Soko leads the way at 17.7 ppg and also pulls down 8.9 rpg. Mason, who recently returned to action after breaking his hand, is putting up just over 10 points per game, as is Dominique McKoy and Derrick Colter, while TraVaughn White is chipping in 13.4 per contest.
These teams will be meeting for the second straight year, with the Dukes picking up a 73-72 win last season. The only other time they played was in 2005, and Appalachian State won a close one, 71-68. Expect another tight game Thursday, and for Duquesne to pull out a squeaker over the road-weary Mountaineers.
Game Date and Time