Northern Arizona (10-16) at Hawaii (15-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: None. Home Record: NAU 5-5, Hawaii 11-5. Away Record: NAU 4-10, Hawaii 3-6. Neutral Record: NAU 1-1, Hawaii 1-0. Conference Record: NAU 7-9, Hawaii 9-6. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona is set for Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center as part of the BracketBusters event.
Hawaii, which now competes in the Big West Conference after moving over from the Western Athletic, is hoping to snap a two-game slide when it takes the floor this weekend in Honolulu. The team's latest setback came last weekend at Pacific in an 80-71 decision.
As for the Lumberjacks, members of the Big Sky Conference, they too have been out of action since last weekend, but the team has needed that extra time to rest following a 74-72 overtime win against North Dakota on the road. The victory snapped a brief two-game slide by the group, but still they are just 4-10 on the road in 2012-13, a mere 1-5 versus non-conference foes.
In a game that featured 11 ties and 20 lead changes, the Lumberjacks are the ones who came out on top during the meeting with North Dakota in Grand Forks last weekend. Gabe Rogers scored a team-best 24 points, followed by DeWayne Russell with 21 points, to go along with six rebounds and five assists, although the latter was also guilty of half of the team's 16 turnovers. Blake Hamilton chipped in with 11 points, seven boards and three steals off the bench.
The only player to have started all 26 games this season for the 'Jacks, Rogers leads the group in scoring with 17.7 ppg, thanks in large part to his 70 3-point baskets. However, Rogers is shooting just 38.4 percent from the floor overall which is the lowest among the players who have regularly been found in the starting lineup. Russell is responsible for another 14.7 ppg, thanks to his 101-of-134 effort at the free-throw line but still this is a team being outscored by almost eight points per game on the season.
On the mainland, the Rainbow Warriors have had their issues again this season and the team ran into another problem last weekend when it bowed to the Pacific Tigers at the Spanos Center. Granted, Christian Standhardinger tried to keep the visitors in the mix with his 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but it wasn't enough. Isaac Fotu added 12 points in just 14 minutes off the bench, followed by Vander Joaquim with 10 points.
Standhardinger has been huge for the Rainbow Warriors this season, leading the team in both scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor for a program that is connecting on 45.8 percent from the field at the moment. Joaquim checks in with another 13.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg to help give the squad a rebounding advantage of more than five per game, but that edge on the glass doesn't always equate to positive outcomes.
As long as Standhardinger and Joaquim can be the ones in control of the action in the paint the Rainbow Warriors have a good shot at taking care of business in their own building.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 73, Northern Arizona 65
02/23 10:33:45 ET