At home again after sweeping a three-game road swing, the Duquesne men's basketball team closes the non-conference portion of its schedule tonight by playing host to Appalachian State (4-8).
The Dukes (6-5) defeated the Mountaineers, 73-72, a season ago.
Appalachian State's high-octane offense has registered point totals of 100 and 97 in their past two games, victories against Milligan and Bluefield College, respectively. The Mountaineers, who are 0-6 on the road this season, average 73.4 points per game.
"They're extremely talented," second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said of Appalachian State. "They're really talented, they're really deep, and they're huge. This will be a big challenge for us."
And what's more, Ferry added, "their best player hasn't even played yet this year." But that player, junior forward Jay Canty, is back and will make his season debut today.
Canty, sitting out because of academic problems, averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game a season ago, his first at Appalachian State after transferring from Xavier.
Canty had 15 points and 10 assists against Duquesne last year.
"He's a big-time scorer," Ferry said. "We're going to have to guard him with the whole team. ... [His return] just adds more talent to a really talented team."
In Canty's absence, the Mountaineers have relied on a balanced scoring attack. Three players average double-figure points -- forward Tab Hamilton (13.8 ppg), guard Mike Neal (12.6) and forward Tevin Baskin (12.0).
"It's not like we can go in and say, OK, take this one kid away and we can win," Ferry said. "You've really got to guard as a team. We're going to have to do a great job of conversion defense, and we're going to have to do a great job on the glass to give ourselves a chance."
Appalachian State center Michael Obacha hauls in 9.9 rebounds per game. He will do battle against Duquesne forwards Ovie Soko (17.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and Dominique McKoy (10.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg).
The Dukes, already thin in frontcourt depth, might be without freshman forward Isaiah Watkins, who has a sprained ankle and is a "game-time decision," according to Ferry.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.