Dukes seeking rare third win in row on road

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Duquesne will aim to close 2013 with a perfect three-game road trip when the Dukes square off against Texas-Pan American for the first time tonight in Edinburg, Texas.

The Dukes beat Massachusetts Lowell, 95-77, in their previous outing Dec. 21, a victory that marked Duquesne's first back-to-back road wins since the 2010-11 season. Now, the Dukes have a chance to make it three in a row.

Scouting report
Matchup: Duquesne (5-5) vs. Texas-Pan American (4-9) , 3 p.m. today, UTPA Fieldhouse, Edinburg, Texas.

Radio, Internet: WPGB-FM (104.7), RedZoneMedia.com.

Duquesne: Senior F Ovie Soko (17.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg) is on pace for a school record for free-throw attempts per game (9.7). He has hit 33 of 39 in the past four games. ... Sophomore G Micah Mason returned to score 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in a victory Dec. 21 against Massachusetts Lowell after missing a month with a broken hand.

Texas Pan-American: Has lost five consecutive games. ... Is scoring 64.8 ppg and allowing 68.3. ... Is whistled for 22.1 fouls per game, a favorable statistic for Duquesne. ... Leading scorer Javorn Farrell (16.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) is a graduate transfer from Dukes Atlantic 10 Conference rival Massachusetts.

Hidden stat: Duquesne set Jim Ferry-era highs for points (95), field goals (33), field-goal percentage (.623), 3-pointers (13) and assists (27) in its previous outing.

Both teams will have to shake off some rust after lengthy holiday breaks.

Ferry gave his players four days off before the team reconvened for practice Thursday night at Palumbo Center. The team flew out Friday morning for Duquesne's fifth game in Texas.

"Hopefully, we're back in shape and sharp," Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. "These are always tough games right after Christmas. They're usually a little bit sloppier. There's been time off, some time away, and it'll come down to playing hard, playing aggressively and fighting through some of the mistakes."

Texas-Pan American, loser of five consecutive games, is led by 6-foot-5 guard Javorn Farrell, who averages 16.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Farrell, a graduate transfer from Massachusetts, had 20 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in a win against Duquesne in the first round of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.

"He's a big guard with a scorer's mentality," Ferry said of Farrell. "Really, really aggressive player who attacks the basket. He's tough to guard. We've got to contain him and make sure he doesn't go for big numbers."

The Broncs will test the Dukes' shaky defense with a motion offense, one dependent on screens, spacing and constant player movement.

"Teams just aren't used to seeing the motion offense much now like they did 10 years ago," Ferry said. "It's difficult to guard because it's not easy to prepare for. We've got to be ready for it. We've got to lock in. We've got to defend with a purpose on every possession."

Duquesne returned sophomore guard Micah Mason to the starting lineup last week after he had missed a month to a broken right hand. He hit 5 of 7 shots from the field, including 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, and had 14 points.

"He's a really cerebral basketball player that can really shoot the basketball," Ferry said. "He makes us significantly better on both sides of the ball. It was a very needed return, and, hopefully, we can keep him healthy."

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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