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Warriors shooting for historic win in Reno

The Hawai’i basketball team will try to stay hot on the road on Saturday. That won’t be so easy to do in the cold climate of Reno, Nev., and against a Nevada team that is even hotter.

The Warriors will play at Nevada, in what is essentially an early battle for first place in the eight-team Western Athletic Conference. Hawai’i has won eight of its last 10 games and is 10-6 overall and 2-0 in the WAC. The Wolf Pack has won 10 straight and is 13-3 overall and 3-0 in the WAC. New Mexico State at 2-0 is the only other WAC team that has not suffered a defeat yet this season.

“I hope we can stay there (at the top),” Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold said. “That’s obviously the goal.”

The game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. (Hawai’i time) at the Lawlor Events Center. A Hawaii victory would be historic, as previous Warrior teams are 0-14 against Nevada in Reno.

The teams are definitely wary of each other.

“I think Nevada does have the best talent, 1 through 5, in this conference,” Arnold said. “I think their starting five is as good as any team on the West Coast.”

Nevada head coach David Carter said of the Warriors: “Hawai’i is a very physical team. We know they’re very talented … we have our work cut out for us. We have to control the defensive rebounds and can’t allow them to get too many offensive rebounds. We almost have to control the tempo. They like to play more half-court and get it inside to their big guys.”

The Wolf Pack is coming off an impressive 81-57 rout of San Jose State on Thursday. Nevada hit a school record 16 3-pointers in that game, and it was also the seventh time this season that it held an opponent to 60 points or fewer.

Nevada has used the same starting five in every game this season – Deonte Burton and Malik Story at guards, Jerry Evans Jr. and Olek Czyz at forwards, and Dario Hunt at center. Those five have accounted for 81.7 percent of the team’s scoring, and 67.1 percent of the rebounding this season.

Burton, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, is averaging 15.4 points and 4.9 assists per game, and is a leading contender for WAC Player of the Year honors. Story, a 6-5 junior, is contributing 14.0 points per game and is the team’s top shooter with 46 3-pointers. Hunt, a 6-8 senior, is averaging 9.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as Nevada’s top post player.

In contrast, Hawai’i has a rotation of 10 players, and each of those players has started at least two games this season. No Hawai’i player has started in every game. Arnold hopes that kind of depth works in favor of the Warriors.

“I like our chances because I think we have a pretty deep bench,” Arnold said. “We talk about waves, and I think that second wave is pretty good, and they’ve done a good job this year.”

Zane Johnson scored 24 points and drained six 3-pointers in the Warriors’ overtime win at Fresno State on Thursday, and he leads Hawai’i in scoring with 15.3 points per game and 49 3s. Junior center Vander Joaquim, who had 23 points and 16 rebounds at Fresno State, is averaging 13.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Junior forward Joston Thomas is next at 11.8 points per game.

“They’re definitely contenders for the WAC title,” Nevada’s Czyz said of the Warriors. “They’re dangerous and they’re big.”

HAWAI’I AT NEVADA

When: Saturday, January 14, 5 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Lawlor Events Center, Reno, Nev.
TV: None
Internet streaming: www.nevadawolfpack.tv (requires a subscription fee)
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM

(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Charles Simmons)

And here is a highlight/interview clip from the KTVN news in Reno, featuring Nevada’s victory over San Jose State:

7 Comments

  1. 10-15 point loss

  2. You know that you’ve really made it as a message board when you get a troll who won’t leave you alone.

  3. I think the first game wore a few guys out so hope to see the other fresh legs such as Brereton, Miles, Rozitis, and Stokes putting in at least 10 minutes each. We will be in there if we can stay close throughout the game and keep the productive players legs fresh for the big push at the end. For us to win this one it will need to be an all-team effort. It is a gamble to have your bench playing for such a long time but I think that’s the only way we will come out with a win here. Ya they could blow us out early but in this game we gotta roll the dice and hope the bench will come through.

  4. Happy for the win last game UH. Good luck on the next one!
    #21 Hauns Brereton You got fans at St. Jude watching/ listening for you!
    Go University of Hawaii!

  5. If there’s anything this team has proven all year is that when no one believes is when they’re the most dangerous..

    But truth be told, this one is going to be tough.. This one might just have to end up being one of those moral victories.. But.. any given Saturday!

  6. Great Pictures!

  7. Great Battle !
    77-74

    Lead Most of the Second Half … Moral Victory ?

    Keep Improving Team Hawai’i !– The Vegas “line” was 13 point underdogs (even Fresno was 7/8 — Obviously we’re improving faster than they (or 09) can keep up…)

    The Next level is Winning on the Scoreboard — On the Road …Consistently
    (.500 with both games Solid is Good for Starters!)

    Keep Improving and More Wins Will Follow …

    The Next Level would be Winning Anywhere …

    Then Controlling Most or All of the Game — Rarely or Never in Doubt … Which Might Seem a little Less Challenging … but i think we can happily accept that … kinda like some of our more dominant teams …(in other sports)…

    Go Warriors! [Catch Nevada the Next TWO Times+]

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