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Warriors take on nationally-ranked UNLV on New Year’s Eve afternoon

What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve then with some basketball fireworks?

Long-range 3-point bombs and high-flying dunks should be on display when the Hawaii basketball team hosts nationally-ranked UNLV on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors are just hoping to have most of the aerial displays work in their favor.

“They’re not good, they’re great,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said of the Rebels. “It’s going to be a great game. They’re ranked 19th and I think they’re even better than that, obviously. They beat (North Carolina), who was No. 1 at the time. I think they’re a top 10 caliber team.”

Hawaii is 8-5, and has won six of its last seven games, including three in a row.

UNLV, which is ranked No. 19 in the latest Associated Press Top 25, is 14-2 and on a five-game winning streak. The Rebels only losses this season have been on the road at Wichita State and at then-No. 14 ranked Wisconsin.

The Warriors and Rebels are both coming off exceptional performances. Hawaii reached defeated South Carolina State, 100-73, on Thursday night. It was the first time in nine years that a Hawaii team reached the century mark in points.

UNLV surpassed that, scoring a 124-75 romp over Central Arkansas on Wednesday night in Las Vegas. “They’re probably as good as anybody in America at running the ball,” Arnold said.

The Warriors have been relying on a balanced offense of late, with four players averaging double-figure points. Zane Johnson leads the way with 15.4 points per game, followed by Vander Joaquim at 11.8, Joston Thomas at 10.8, and Shaquille Stokes at 10.5.

Joaquim leads the team in rebounding with 9.5 per game, while Trevor Wiseman is contributing 7.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Hauns Brereton, who scored a career-high 22 points in the win over South Carolina State, is up to 6.5 points per game. He has reached double-digit points in each of his last three games.

“We have to get into the half-court,” Arnold said. “Defensive transition will probably be the biggest key – stopping them from scoring out of transition.”

The Rebels have developed a potent attack, and rank 12th in the country in scoring with 81.3 points per game. They are also second in the country in 3-pointers made with 140, yet are allowing just 65.1 points per game to opponents.

Chace Stanback, a 6-foot-8 senior wing, is the top scorer with 15.5 points per game. He is also among the national leaders with 41 3-pointers this season, including a 9-for-11 performance from long-range in UNLV’s recent romp over Central Arkansas.

The Rebels also have a solid post player in 6-8 sophomore Mike Moser, who is averaging 13.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

But UNLV is still considered a balanced team, as four other players are averaging between 8.0 and 9.9 points per game.

Kendall Wallace, the nephew of former Hawaii head coach Riley Wallace, is a shooting specialist off the bench for UNLV. He is averaging 3.9 points per game and ranks third on the team with 20 3-pointers.

Arnold and the rest of the Warriors are hoping for a packed Stan Sheriff Center to play a role.

“It’s easy to say that when we have more fans we’re going to be able to play harder and have more in the tank,” Arnold said. “They’ll help us win as well.”

Hawaii vs. UNLV

When: Saturday, January 31, 3 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: $26 for lower level, $18 for upper level, $16 for senior citizens in upper level, $5 for students in upper level
TV: Live on OCSports (channel 12 or 1012)
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

Here is a news highlight video of UNLV’s romp over Central Arkansas from 8NewsNow in Las Vegas:

9 Comments

  1. OK guys let’s put together a great 40 minutes game against UNLV. Gotta believe, man. Let’s pack the Sheriff tomorrow afternoon.
    GO WARRIORS!!!

  2. i believe we have a chance if we make no mistakes

  3. IF Hawai’i can get off to a Stronger, Faster Start than Xavier (which might have been an early psyche job) and play it close or even from ahead — maybe it doesn’t have to be as hard as Xavier or take “miracle” shots to get ahead …

    — UNLV always had “Talent” but has never been famous for being a smart or disciplined team — Smart Team Play can beat the individual flash (again) …

    i Do Expect both teams to apply Much Pressure on Defense — similar to Hawai’i’s second half against S.Carolina St., UNLV’s offense and quick score potential is triggered by its defense …

  4. Stanback is 41/82 on the season from three-point land. o_O Hopefully the team can step up the intensity and keep things close until the crowd-induced, second half magic kicks in. cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….. (to be continued)

  5. …it’ll be all about defense and being patient on offense…

  6. Good luck warriors! You have all the pieces now execute!
    Happy New Year to you all on the Islands! Wish we were
    there! Take UNLV Down!

  7. we don’t have what it takes to win this game and will lose by 10-15 points in a not so surprisingly let down

  8. yeah i bet you thought that same thing when we played Xavier…. You non-hawaiian fan pieceohpoooooo

  9. i knew we were gonna win that game..never said i was hawaiian bra

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