Warriors take road momentum to Fullerton
Fueled by the momentum of two straight road wins, the Hawai’i basketball team will now test itself in the fast lane for its next game.
The Warriors will conclude their four-game road stretch with a Big West Conference game on Saturday night against the run-n-shoot Cal State Fullerton Titans. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. (Hawai’i time) in Titan Gym at Fullerton, Calif., and it is being promoted as “Homecoming Night” for the Titans.
The Warriors are 12-9 overall and in third place in the Big West at 6-4. The Titans are 11-10 overall and in seventh place at 4-5.
The teams have already met once, and it was a thriller in Honolulu. Garrett Jefferson dribbled the length of the court and drained a running shot from 12 feet away as the final horn sounded to give the Warriors a 90-88 win.
Such high-scoring games are commonplace for the Titans, who rank third in the nation in scoring at 82.2 points per game. They are also among the top 10 nationally in both free throw percentage (.777) and 3-point field goal percentage (.403).
Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold has described the Fullerton guards as “one of the best backcourts in the West, if not the best.”
D.J. Seeley, a 6-foot-4 senior, ranks second in the Big West in scoring with 19.3 points per game, and is also contributing 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Vaughn, a 6-3 senior, is third in the conference in scoring with 18.2 points per game, and is also averaging 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
Seeley had 22 points, five 3-pointers and eight rebounds in the loss at Hawai’i last month; Vaughn had 26 points and five rebounds in the loss.
But the Titans run the equivalent of a four-guard offense that features several other options.
Sammy Yeager, a 6-foot-4 senior, is averaging 15.3 points per game and leads the team with 54 3-pointers and a .462 percentage from 3-point range. Alex Harris, a 6-1 sophomore, is contributing 9.8 points per game, and 6-7 junior forward Deuce Johnson is averaging 6.7 points with a .636 field goal percentage.
The Titans are 5-4 at home, but have lost their last three home games, including a 92-86 loss to last-place Cal State Northridge on Thursday.
Although Jefferson was the hero for Hawai’i in the previous win over Fullerton, it was freshman Isaac Fotu who was the star. Fotu, a 6-8 forward, had his best game of the season against the Titans, finishing with 29 points on 13-of-16 shooting, and nine rebounds.
More recently, though, the Warriors have been riding the hot hand of junior Christian Standhardinger. The 6-8 forward averaged 27.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in the last two road wins. He currently leads the team in scoring at 15.9 points per game, and is second in rebounding at 7.8.
Senior center Vander Joaquim is averaging 13.8 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game, and junior guard Brandon Spearman is contributing 9.5 points per game.
Hawai’i’s advantage will be in the post. Fullerton usually relies on just seven players, and the 6-7 Deuce Johnson is the tallest. In contrast, the Warriors have five players 6-8 or taller they can use – Joaquim, Standhardinger, Fotu, 7-foot Davis Rozitis and 6-8 Ozren Pavlovic.
The Warriors lead the Big West in rebounding with 39.7 per game, while the Titans are last at 31.0 per game.
GAME INFORMATION: Hawai’i (12-9, 6-4 Big West) at Cal State Fullerton (11-10, 4-5 Big West)
When: Saturday, Feb. 2, 6:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Titan Gym (4,000) – Fullerton, Calif.
Streaming Video: Available on BigWest.tv
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM will carry the game live. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, and KTOH on Kaua’i.
Audio Webcast: Available on espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at FullertonTitans.com
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For those in Hawai’i, here is the latest ticket deal from UH:
HONOLULU – The University of Hawai`i Athletics Department is conducting a special “4-for-2” online ticket promotion for the men’s basketball team’s last four Big West games and freshman phenom Isaac Fotu is the face of the promotion.
Playing off Fotu’s name, UH is offering fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online to the final four (4) Big West home games for the price of two (2) contests.
The total cost per package is $42 and is only available online A total of 500 upper-level seats will be available for the limited-time promotion which begins at noon on Monday, Feb. 4, and ends at noon on Thursday, Feb. 7, or while supplies last.
UH’s final four conference games at the Stan Sheriff Center include matchups against Long Beach State (Feb. 7), UC Irvine (Feb. 9), UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 28) and the team’s home finale versus Cal Poly (March 1).
For more information, visit eTicketHawaii.com or call the UH Ticket Office at (808) 956-4482.