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Warriors want to stay hot in cold Flagstaff

The University of Hawai’i basketball team will try to stay hot, even in the freezing temperatures at Flagstaff, Arizona.

Snowfall and temperatures in the teens (not to mention the thin air at 7,000 feet above sea level) are expected to hit Flagstaff on Saturday, when the Warriors play Northern Arizona. The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. (Hawai’i time) at Walkup Skydome.

The Warriors are 5-2 and on a three-game winning streak; the Lumberjacks are 2-6 and on a three-game losing streak. This is a “return” game from last season, when Hawai’i routed Northern Arizona, 84-50, in Honolulu.

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“They only have a couple of returners – (Max) Jacobsen and (Gaellan) Bewernick are the only returners,” Hawai’i assistant coach Brandyn Akana said. “Other than that, they got a whole new team. They have a young team, a lot of JC transfers, so they’re a whole different team. We didn’t look at last year’s film.”

This will be only the second home game for the Lumberjacks. Their only previous home game was an 83-59 victory over San Diego Christian, which is a NAIA program.

Northern Arizona is 1-5 against NCAA Division I competition, with the only victory coming at Texas-San Antonio. The Lumberjacks have suffered close losses on the road at USC (67-63) and Fresno State (71-67).

Akana, who was in charge of scouting the Lumberjacks, described Northern Arizona as a team that “looks to get the ball in the paint, whether through the pass or dribbling.”

The Lumberjacks have used the same starting lineup in each game this season – 6-foot Aaseem Dixon and 6-5 Quinton Upshur at guards, 6-6 Gaellan Bewernick and 6-7 Jordyn Martin at forwards, and 6-8 Max Jacobsen at center.

The Lumberjacks like to get the ball in the post to Jacobsen, as he is their leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, and also the most efficient with a .609 field goal percentage. He had just six points and two rebounds in the loss at Hawaii last season.

The other top scoring threats are Upshur and Dixon, though both could be considered high-volume shooters. Upshur is averaging 14.8 points per game, but is shooting just 36.5 percent from the field, and 27.8 percent (15 for 54) from 3-point range. Dixon is averaging 11.1 points per game, but is shooting just 34.9 percent from the field, and 32.6 percent from 3-point range.

The Warriors will counter with a starting lineup that features four players averaging double-figure points: 6-8 senior forward Christian Standhardinger (18.4), 6-8 sophomore forward Isaac Fotu (13.3), 6-2 junior guard Garrett Nevels (12.6) and senior guard Brandon Spearman (11.5). The fifth starter, junior point guard Keith Shamburger, is averaging 9.4 points and 4.3 assists per game.

Standhardinger had 21 points and nine rebounds in the win over Northern Arizona last season, while Fotu contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

“The key for us is our defense,” Akana said. “We have to stop them from doing what they like to do, which is driving and getting wide-open shots. We have to contest their shots. And we have to run. Those are all keys for us. Our defense will turn into our transition offense.”

Game 8 Tipoff Notes
Who:
Hawai’i (5-2, 0-0 Big West) at Northern Arizona (2-6, 0-0 Big Sky)
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
Time: 5:00 p.m. MT
Where: Walkup Skydome (7,300) – Flagstaff, Ariz.
Television: Fox Sports Arizona
Streaming Video: Avaialable at www.nau-tv.com or www.watchbigsky.com
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona and KTOH on Kaua’i.
Audio Webcast: Live audio streaming on espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at NAUAthletics.com

2 Comments

  1. Guys, stay , warm, by playing great team defense. Running when you can., take care of the ball, knock down your Free Throws, and shoot well from field. All 14 of you guys. Get the W. So very important, knowing you can win on the Road!
    Make sure, hands are moist enough to handle ball, at elevation, sometimes, ball is dry, hard to handle.
    Go get the win against the Lumberjacks, Gib and team. Hawaii pulling for you and the athletes.
    If this team has effort, like against Missouri, in first half, UH can win the game. No let downs, NAU will be tough in their own arena!

  2. Continue TO Improve On D
    Improve Rebounding Margins
    Turn that into Offensive Opportunities
    Surpass All/Most of Your Team Goals
    Work Hard in Your System
    Win in System
    Win, ʻBows!

    Keep On Y-Our New Traditions
    Playing Like Champions
    Winning Like Champions

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