Hawaii (9-5) at UC Irvine (7-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bren Events Center (5,000) -- Irvine, California. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Hawaii 8-4, UCI 4-1. Away Record: Hawaii 0-1, UCI 2-7. Neutral Record: Hawaii 1-0, UCI 1-1. Conference Record: Hawaii 3-0, UCI 1-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: Off to their best start in conference play in more than a decade, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors hit the mainland on Wednesday night to challenge the UC Irvine Anteaters in Big West Conference action at the Bren Events Center.
Back in 2001-02, the Rainbow Warriors began play in their former conference, the WAC, with six straight victories and now they are trying to better that, although they still have a ways to go with just three consecutive wins to open Big West action this year. Hawaii, which is heading to the mainland for just the second time this season, put up a 76-61 win over UC Riverside on Saturday for its fourth victory in the last five outings overall.
As for the Anteaters, they began league play with a 69-58 overtime victory versus UC Davis near the end of December, but since then the team has dropped back-to-back conference bouts. The most recent of those setbacks took place on Saturday when the squad was downed by Cal Poly, 72-67, on the road which means the team is now just 2-7 in true road dates in 2012-13.
The all-time series has been split evenly through the first six encounters dating back to the first meeting in 1972. More recently, the teams clashed in 2009 with UCI putting up an 80-70 victory at home.
At the Stan Sheriff Center, where the Warriors are 8-4 this season, the team shot 55.1 percent from the floor, including an impressive 10-of-16 beyond the arc, in the 15-point win over UCR on Saturday. Brandon Jawato came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points in just 21 minutes, thanks to a perfect 7-of-7 performance behind the 3-point line in the first half alone. Christian Standhardinger added 17 points and Isaac Fotu 10, while Vander Joaquim registered another double-double for the program with 11 points and a game- high 11 rebounds. Jawato, who was named the Big West Player of the Week for his efforts on the perimeter, set the Hawaii freshman record for 3-pointers in a single game and is now 12-of-15 from the outside in three league bouts. Also in league play, Joaquim is averaging 9.7 ppg and a team-best 11.3 rpg, leaving the bulk of the scoring to Fotu (18.3 ppg) and Standhardinger (16.3 ppg) who are both shooting better than 72 percent from the floor in those three tests.
Against Cal Poly, the Anteaters connected on an impressive 54.2 percent from the floor yet still found a way to land in the loss column. Part of the problem was that UCI collected only four offensive rebounds so even when the team was missing shots, the opportunities for second-chance points was minimum. Adam Folker did his best to give the visitors a shot at the win column as he tallied 16 points before fouling out, followed by Alex Young with 14 points, five assists and four boards, while Chris McNealy tacked on 11 points and three dishes off the bench. While he didn't show up as one of the double-digit scorers for the Anteaters in their recent setback, Daman Starring remains the leading scorer for the group with his 13.6 ppg, having knocked down an impressive 31-of-66 (.470) behind the 3-point line. Defensively, this is a group that has held the competition to only 37.3 percent success from the floor and 30.5 percent shooting on the perimeter, and yet UCI is still two games under .500.
Even though Irvine is outworking opponents by an average of almost six rebounds per game, the team has not had to go up against an opponent like the Rainbow Warriors who have three players capable of ripping down double-digit boards on any given night, which is enough of a reason to give the nod to Hawaii this time around.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 77, UC Irvine 70
01/09 10:39:52 ET