Duquesne-West Virginia Preview

A lengthy layoff didn’t hurt West Virginia when the new AP poll

was announced this week. It’s hoping its next opponent won’t pose

much of a risk to the team’s highest ranking in more than 27

years.

The sixth-ranked Mountaineers look to stay undefeated Wednesday

night when they host Duquesne.

West Virginia (5-0) hasn’t played in a game that’s counted since

an 84-66 win over Portland in the 76 Classic championship game in

Anaheim, Calif., on Nov. 29. Having maxed out the number of

non-conference opponents they can face, the Mountaineers scheduled

an exhibition game against the University of Charleston on

Saturday, beating the Division II school 81-48.

West Virginia shot 53.6 percent and was led by Deniz Kilicli,

who scored a game-high 18. The freshman forward is ineligible to

play in the first 20 games after the NCAA determined he violated an

amateurism rule.

Forward Devin Ebanks started and finished with two points –

attempting just two field goals – over 18 minutes. Ebanks missed

the first three games because of undisclosed personal problems.

An all-Big East rookie selection as a freshman, Ebanks has

scored 14 points in each of his first two games off the bench, but

he shot 4 of 13 against Portland.

“Devin’s not Devin yet,” coach Bob Huggins said.

Kevin Jones continues to step up for West Virginia, averaging

12.6 points and 7.0 rebounds. He finished with 14 points and seven

boards in 18 minutes against Charleston.

While the win over Charleston didn’t count in the standings,

West Virginia still moved up from No. 7 in the poll. It’s the

highest ranking for the Mountaineers since Feb. 23, 1982, when they

were also ranked sixth.

West Virginia is looking to improve to 7-0 for the first time

since winning the first 10 games of the 2004-05 season.

Duquesne (6-2), which opened the season with four straight wins,

is coming off a 58-44 victory over Savannah State on Saturday,

bouncing back from a 67-58 double-overtime loss to Pittsburgh three

days earlier.

Eric Evans scored 17 while Damian Saunders added 15 for the

Dukes, who outscored Savannah 27-13 in the first half.

Evans went 6 of 9 from the field after shooting 17.6 percent (3

of 17) in the loss to Pittsburgh. The sophomore guard, averaging

9.0 points, is shooting 27.3 percent.

“We really got an efficient game from Eric,” coach Ron Everhart

told the Dukes’ official Web site. “We’re trying to get him to

understand that no matter what the numbers are, you have to be

efficient.”

After losing Melquan Bolding to a fractured right wrist in the

season opener, Duquesne has been led by Bill Clark, who is

averaging 17.4 points. The Dukes, though, rely primarily on their

defense, holding opponents to 61.6 points and only allowing one to

shoot better than 40 percent.

Last season, Duquesne beat its first top-10 team since 1992 when

it defeated then-No. 9 Xavier 72-68 on Feb. 7.

West Virginia has won six straight over Duquesne, taking the

last three at home by an average of 16.0 points. The Mountaineers

lead the all-time series 48-36.