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Big West Showdown, Part II: Hawai’i at UC Irvine

Bobbitt1_UCI

IRVINE, Calif. – The setting will be different, but the stakes will still be high when the University of Hawai’i plays UC Irvine in part II of a showdown for first place in the Big West Conference.

The Warriors would like nothing better than to follow the same script that produced an epic 74-52 victory over the Anteaters on February 11 at the Stan Sheriff Center. That win put Hawai’i alone in first place in the Big West, and another win on Saturday would create a two-game separation. A UCI victory on Saturday would create a tie for first place.

Hawai’i is 21-3 overall and 10-1 in the conference. The Warriors have won a school-record five consecutive road games. The Anteaters are 20-7 overall and 9-2 in the conference.

The game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time) at the Bren Events Center, and it will be televised on ESPNU (channels 221 and 1221 in Hawai’i).

“I’m excited to play them again; Irvine is a good team,” senior forward Sai Tummala said. “I know they’re going to be ready to go after how we beat them at home. It’s going to be a fun game. I think the environment is going to be great, and it’s about first place, so let’s get it.”

The Warriors should have their full rotation of players available for the first time in more than a month.

Starting forward Aaron Valdes sat out Thursday’s 69-63 win at CSUN with flu-like symptoms. He practiced with the team on Friday afternoon at the Bren Center, and said he is feeling well enough to play on Saturday. How much he plays and whether he starts or plays a reserve role remains to be seen.

“When I got off the plane (on Tuesday), I didn’t feel good,” Valdes said. “Something didn’t sit well in my stomach when I ate Burger King, or whatever it was, but I’m feeling a lot better. I’m feeling 100 percent, almost, so I’m ready to play.”

Valdes2_UCI

Valdes is averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and had 16 points and nine rebounds in the win over UCI in Honolulu.

Sophomore guard Isaac Fleming did not play in the first meeting with UCI due to an ankle injury. He returned to action on Thursday at CSUN, and is expected to once again play the sparkplug role off the bench on Saturday.

Junior center Stefan Jankovic scored a career-high 34 points on 12-of-13 shooting at CSUN, and he continues to lead the Warriors in scoring (15.7), rebounding (6.6) and field goal percentage (.571). He had a season-low four points in the previous win over UCI, and he was limited to 13 minutes due to foul problems.

The Warriors tied a school record with 14 3-pointers in the previous win over UCI, and senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt led the way with six 3-pointers and 23 points. He is currently averaging 13.2 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

Junior forward Mike Thomas is averaging 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Tummala, who alternates game minutes with Thomas, is averaging 6.4 points per game and leads the team with a .427 percentage from 3-point range.

Senior guard Quincy Smith is averaging 7.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Hawai’i is the top statistical offensive team in the Big West, averaging 78.4 points per game with a .463 field goal percentage. The Anteaters are averaging 70.0 points per game with a .452 field goal percentage.

UCI is the top statistical defensive team in the Big West, limiting its opponents to 65.5 points per game and a .385 field goal percentage. Hawai’i is not far behind, limiting opponents to 66.0 points per game and a .394 field goal percentage.

The Anteaters feature the nation’s tallest player in 7-foot-6 junior center Mamadou N’diaye. He is averaging 12.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game, and has a .654 field goal percentage. He was limited to 10 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes in the first meeting with Hawai’i.

Tummala1_UCI

Perhaps more crucial to UCI’s success is the play of starting guards Luke Nelson and Alex Young. Nelson leads the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game, and is also contributing 3.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game; Young is averaging 9.9 points, 4.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.

In the loss at Hawai’i, Nelson (11 points, 0 rebounds, 2 assists) and Young (7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) both had subpar games, while shooting a combined 7 for 22.

Since scoring a season-low 52 points in the loss at Hawai’i, UCI has come back with a vengeance by scoring consecutive season highs of 93 and then 96 points in wins over CSUN and Cal State Fullerton.

A capacity crowd of 5,000 fans is expected at the Bren Center, and it is being promoted as a “White Out,” with 3,000 white rally towels being distributed.

HAWAI’I AT UC IRVINE
When:
Saturday, February 20, 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Bren Events Center, Irvine, Calif.
TV: Live on ESPNU (Oceanic channels 221 and 1221 in Hawai’i)
Internet video: Live on www.watchespn.com
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet audio: Live on www.espn1420am.com
Live stats: www.hawaiiathletics.com

Screen shot 2016-02-18 at 11.49.35 PM

Saturday’s Big West Games
CSUN at Cal Poly
UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
Hawai’i at UC Irvine, 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

24 Comments

  1. Mahalo for the video, Dayton and to the Schmidt Ohana! Great to see the guys relaxed, but I know the coaching staff will have them prepared and focused for UCI. GO BOWS!

  2. THIS GAME TONIGHT IS HUGE!

    A win tonight would all but guarantee post season play and give the Bowz a 2 game advantage on the rest of the league with only 4 games left.

    Playing again in front of a national audience would certainly help in recruitment and with their success this year should also have an impact on the remaining players’ decision about next season.

    It is going to be battle tonight and UC Irvine will be looking for some payback on the near perfect performance UH played at home last week.

    GO BOWZ…finish strong the whole State will be watching you.

  3. JUST WIN BOWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. It’s still payback time for last year’s BWC tournament final. Play hard, Warriors.

  5. This is it – the chance of a lifetime for your very-own memory.

    We fans love you!

  6. These guys have comedic talent and Dayton draws them out.

  7. I want a close game down to the buzzer. Somebody’s got to come up big. Who’s going to make the big shot or play. Somebody you don’t think about in crunch time. A starter. A rebound and a put back, Mike Thomas. UH 70, UC Irvine 68. Ganot, coaches, and players do it again. I’m dreaming again.

  8. It’s great to see the great dynamic that the guys have with each other. This is why they are a team, because they can laugh together and play hard together! Good luck tonight.

    Thank you to Dayton who took time out of his schedule and away from his family to support the team and Warrior Nation! Go Bows!

  9. Our amazing TEAM and we fans are appreciative to both of you for this wonderful and always improving Warrior Insider as ever!

    Please keep going with your total support.

  10. Refuse to lose Warriors! Bring it tonight !

  11. I was here for northridge game, and just flew the mini-me in on the red eye for tonight’s game! Couldn’t let the team’s biggest fan miss this showdown! We are locked and loaded and ready to win the game, but lose our voices tonight! Go bows

  12. Warriors healthy shoot well. They should beat

    Irvine by 8 to 10 points. Think they are odds on

    favorite. Either way very excited for game. Think

    UCI cannot handle UH defensive presure.

    Go Warriors!

  13. The implications of tonight’s game are HUGE. Regular season championship, big west tournament seeding, post-season play, even national ranking. And yes, Irvine are looking for payback from when we smoked ’em at home, but they beat us THREE TIMES last year, including killing our NCAA tourney bid. NEVER forget! We STILL OWE them! Let’s GO BOWS!!!!!

  14. JUST WIN, ‘BOWS!

    Cannot Over-State!
    HUGE Day! Huge Game…HUGE Opportunity!
    For ‘Bows to Take This Conference By-The-Throat!
    Last Week Thursday…Huge HIT!
    Shook The Defending Champs!
    Tonight Knock-Down
    Regular Season Championship ‘Controlling LEAD’ to The Winning ‘Bows!
    ‘LAST Chance’ Home-Court Opportunity (Really Second-to-Last w/BWC Tourney
    Irvine is o Close to BWC it IS Like a Home Court for Them))
    Back-Against-the-Wall Opportunity for The Injured(?) Home Team
    Know That Their FIERY Coach is Calling Out EVERY Single One of His Players
    SO Really the Pressure IS On Irvine, BUT They’ve Responded Well in The Last Couple of Years
    Knock Down, Drag Out, Control & WIN
    Dominate And Declare The ‘Bows ARE The Better TEAM!

    BEST TEAM Headed Into Tourney Could Be Decided Tonight
    OR TIE
    WHO Likes Ties?

    A New Higher Level (Again) For The Ptogram!
    How Ever…

    JUST WIN ‘BOWS!

  15. Valerie Schmidt,

    Huge thanks for making this site possible and for sponsoring Dayton’s trips. Warrior Insider is one of a kind. I’m sure it’s a factor in recruiting, especially for out of state players and their families.

    Dayton,

    Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to cover these games!

    WeBleedGreen and OAKLAND510,

    Make some noise for our Warriors!!!

  16. TAVS, funny you mention us and rod’s dad in same sentence, cuz we are usually seated next to them at road games (see the pic holding the sign at riverside game…and I was next to rods family, without son, at northridge).
    Let’s get this one tonight bows! Just win!!!

  17. Yes Warrior Insider is the best! Thank you for the videos!

    Gonna be a great game! Go Bows!!

  18. WeBleedGreen,

    Nice! Just looked at the picture from the Riverside game – that’s awesome! Love the commitment!

  19. It is good to see these guys nice and loose but I also hope and pray they are focused for this big game! Aaron don’t look sick at all in the video but I remember the last time he missed games with his toe injury and came back and was very rusty.

    UH beat UCI by 22 points the last time but the Vegas bookies got UCI favorite by 4. That is almost hard to believe. Is UCI that good at home? This is just one more reason for this UH team to beat UCI again!

  20. UCIrvine – The way we lost to them last game, hurt and it’s more of a revenge game. They beat us pretty bad. A must win game, we’ve found our rhythm.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6Hn_KiAWPo

  21. above words from some UC Irvine players.

  22. Bananas, wow laulau.

  23. great comeback win!

  24. This team is all heart.

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