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Warriors take on No. 21 BYU

The Hawaii basketball team will need all of its energy to forge an upset solution in the EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday

The Warriors will take on their toughest task of the season so far when they play No. 21-ranked Brigham Young on Saturday at Salt Lake City. The game will be played at EnergySolutions Arena – home of the NBA’s Utah Jazz.

“You have to approach a game like this a little bit loose,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “We’re going in with the mindset that we can be competitive with anybody, but we also know it’s going to take a great effort on our part.”

BYU is 7-0, including victories over Saint Mary’s, Utah State and Creighton.

Hawaii is 5-1 following a controversial 54-53 loss at Cal Poly on Wednesday. The Warriors traveled to Salt Lake City on Thursday, so they have had two days to prepare for the Cougars – and forget about the heartbreaking first loss of the season.

“We’re young,” Arnold said. “The guys bounced right back and they’re looking forward to this game. They realize what kind of opportunity this is.”

The Cougars have one of the top point guards in the nation in 6-foot-2 senior Jimmer Fredette. He is averaging 23.1 points and 4.6 assists per game.

“The guys is an All-American, one of the best offensive players in the country,” Arnold said. “He’s already seen a lot of different defenses, so he knows how to get his shots up no matter what you throw at him. You just have to try to limit his touches.”

Arnold was quick to note that BYU is one of the top-scoring teams in the country with 83.4 points per game, and one of the best rebounding teams with 43.7 per game. By comparison, Hawaii is averaging 72.0 points per game and 36.2 rebounds per game.

“We have to rebound well and our transition defense has to be great,” Arnold said. “There are a lot of things BYU does well, and it’s not just one guy we have to be careful of.”

Hawaii has four active players averaging double-figure points: Joston Thomas (12.7), Hiram Thompson (12.5), Bo Barnes (11.5) and Zane Johnson (11.3). Sophomore center Vander Joaquim is the leading rebounder with 6.3 per game.

The team’s leading scorer and rebounder will remain sidelined. Senior forward Bill Amis, who is averaging 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, is on the trip but will not be in uniform due to an injured foot.

The Warriors will also have to address their turnover issues. They committed 27 in the loss at Cal Poly, and are averaging 19.2 turnovers per game.

BYU also happens to be one of the top teams in the country at creating turnovers. The Cougars rank No. 15 in the nation with 73 steals.
The game will not be affected by weather, but Arnold said it doesn’t help the Warriors that temperatures are in the 30s with snowfall in Utah this week.

“The minute I stepped off the plane I wished we were playing this game back home,” Arnold said.

NOTES

Arnold said he will “sit down and talk” with junior point guard Anthony Salter when the team returns to Honolulu next week. Salter did not accompany the team on the road trip because Arnold granted him time to deal with personal matters.

Arnold said he does not plan to file appeal or protest of the team’s 54-53 loss at Cal Poly. Video evidence appears to indicate that the final basket by Cal Poly’s Chris O’Brien came after time expired. “There’s nothing we can do now to get somebody to change the outcome,” he said. “That’s not going to make or break our season and there are a lot of other things we could have done during the game to change the outcome ourselves, so we’ll just move on and learn from it.”

Hawaii has lost 13 consecutive away games, a streak dating to the 2008-09 season. Hawaii has an all-time road record of 1-27 against nationally-ranked teams.

1 Comment

  1. Wow. Talk about a big road test. I guess this is it. But you never. Crazy things have happened before.

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