VCU-Duquesne Preview

Duquesne’s Derrick Colter and VCU’s Briante Weber take excellent care of the ball. Colter’s problem this weekend is he’s the one facing the Rams’ famed "Havoc" defense.

The point guard matchup figures to be a major key as No. 17 VCU seeks a 10th straight victory Saturday at the CONSOL Energy Center.

Duquesne (6-9, 1-3 Atlantic 10) normally plays its home games on campus at the Palumbo Center but has shifted this contest one block up Magee Street to the home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins to try to end VCU’s longest win streak since a 13-game run Nov. 28, 2012-Jan. 19, 2013.

Any chance of an upset hinges on a strong effort from Colter, fourth in the A-10 with a 2.67 assist-to-turnover ratio. He averages a team-high 12.4 points and will have to deal with the bulk of the Rams’ pressure.

VCU (14-3, 4-0) forces a conference-best 17.9 turnovers per game to rank among the nation’s leaders behind Weber, who leads Division I with 4.0 steals per game and is second in the A-10 with a 2.96 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Weber needs 25 steals to tie former Providence star John Linehan’s NCAA career record of 385.

VCU has captured the last two meetings, winning 90-63 two seasons ago and 80-65 last season. The Rams forced 36 turnovers in those games, with Colter totaling 28 points to go with seven assists and eight turnovers.

Colter is shooting an A-10-best 53.5 percent on 3-pointers, though VCU has the ability to slow down top shooters. The Rams held Davidson’s Jack Gibbs and Tyler Kalinoski to 3-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc in a 71-65 victory Jan. 7. That duo is shooting 42.3 percent on 3s.

VCU rallied from nine points down with 9:04 left to snap upstart Rhode Island’s six-game win streak Tuesday with a 65-60 road victory. Treveon Graham scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half in a contest in which the senior sharpshooter was forced to the bench after crashing to the floor.

”We’ve been together for about 4 1/2 years,” Weber said. ”Knowing Treveon, he’s a tough player. If it wasn’t broken I was pretty sure he was coming back. I have belief in him no matter what."

Graham is tied for third in the A-10 with 17.1 points per game and is alone in third in 3-point shooting at 45.6 percent. He has 30 points in 47 minutes against Duquesne.

The Dukes fell 78-69 at Saint Louis on Wednesday. Micah Mason scored 12 and Colter added eight.

Duquesne shot 38.2 percent (13 of 34) on free throws for the third-lowest mark by a Division I team with at least 30 attempts over the last four seasons. Senior Dominique McKoy missed nine of 10 attempts.

"You can’t come on the road and shoot 38 percent from the foul line when you go 34 times," coach Jim Ferry told the Dukes’ official website. "You can’t let that happen."

These are the conference’s worst foul-shooting teams. Duquesne is second-worst in the country at 58.8 percent and VCU is at 62.1.