Duquesne gets a second shot at playing against a high-profile opponent tonight at Consol Energy Center.
The Dukes host Big 12 Conference opponent West Virginia, but are hoping things go much better for them this time around than their first trip to the venue.
In fact, they are hoping their first game at Consol against a high-profile opponent -- a 21-point loss Wednesday to Pitt -- was merely a dress rehearsal and that they will be much more comfortable in the building this time.
"We definitely want to play much better than we did," senior guard Sean Johnson. "We want to put on a better performance than we did last week against Pitt and really it is just a matter of getting back into the gym and working on some things.
"The key for us, as always, will be rebounding. West Virginia is bigger than us and most teams are bigger than us, so we have to make sure we hold true to our fundamentals and box out and compete for rebounds."
Duquesne (5-4) vs. West Virginia (4-3), 7 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
CBS Sports Network; WPBG-FM (104.7)
Has played West Virginia 86 times, which makes the Mountaineers the Dukes' second-most common opponent behind Saint Bonaventure. ... Had played the Mountaineers 38 years in a row before a season ago when the two teams did not play. ... Is outrebounding opponents by 5.3 rpg. ... Sean Johnson scored his 1,000th career point Saturday against New Orleans and has 1,016 for his career. ... Sophomore Kadeem Pantophlet is averaging 5.4 ppg and 5.2 rpg.
- West Virginia:
Leads series 50-36. ... Has won eight in a row in series, including previous four in Pittsburgh. ... Lost previous game at Consol Energy Center - to Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament in the spring. ... Is 49-7 in previous 56 December games. ....West Virginia has won 63 road or neutral-site games under coach Bob Huggins. ... Deniz Kilicli (10.4 ppg), Aaric Murray (10.4) and Juwan Staten (10.3) are leading scorers.
- Hidden stat:
Duquesne is 2-2 in home games at Consol Energy Center (games vs. Pitt are considered neutral-court games).
Although the Mountaineers are the Dukes' second noteworthy opponent at Consol, they will be the third team from a major conference the Dukes have played this season.
Duquesne played Nov. 11 at Georgetown, and unlike the Pitt game, the Dukes competed with the Hoyas, pushing them to the limit before falling, 61-56.
The Dukes were competitive against Georgetown on the glass and were only outrebounded by four (as opposed to 16 by Pitt). They also forced more turnovers than they committed.
Those are the same kind of numbers Duquesne will need against the Mountaineers in order to have a chance to win, but it also will need to shoot much better than it did against the Hoyas and the Panthers.
Duquesne made only 7 of 28 3-point attempts against Georgetown, and against Pitt, it made only 5 of 21 (23 percent) from beyond the arc.
Johnson said the Dukes shooters should be better this time at Consol, as they will be more comfortable in the building now that they have played there once.
"I think our guys just need to get some confidence back and we've worked on that this week," said Johnson, who is Duquesne's leading scorer with 12.9 points per game and has made 10 of 32 3-point attempts.
"But guys just have to get comfortable with the shots they know they can make and take those shots and we should be fine. I think having been in that building last week, you start to settle into it a little bit and hopefully that will be an advantage for us."
Johnson said the atmosphere at Consol is excellent and is a big reason the team looks forward to playing games there -- even if they are always against the best teams on the Dukes' schedule.
Duquesne will play four games at Consol this season -- Pitt, West Virginia, VCU (Jan. 19) and Xavier (Feb. 9) -- and athletic director Greg Amodio said he hopes to find more games that make sense to play there in the future.
"I love games there and I know the young guys got their first taste against Pitt and they love it, too," Johnson said. "The atmosphere is great, the fans are great, it is a big, wide-open court. There is really nothing to not like about playing there.
"Now it is just up to us to have a better showing this time around and hopefully that will get us going in the right direction again."
NOTE -- Former Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart, who was fired by Amodio in the spring, is on the Mountaineers' staff under Bob Huggins.
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @paulzeise.