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Warriors host UC Riverside with magic number at 2

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The University of Hawai’i basketball team started strong, and will now have to finish strong if it wants to remain on pace to win its first Big West Conference regular-season championship.

The stretch run for this amazing season begins on Thursday night, when the Warriors host UC Riverside at the Stan Sheriff Center at 7:00 p.m. It is the second-to-last home game of the season, with “Senior Night” against CSUN to follow on Saturday.

Hawai’i’s magic number to clinch the Big West regular-season championship is two. In short, the Warriors need to win two of their final four games to take the title and No. 1 seed for the Big West Conference Tournament.

Hawai’i is 22-3 overall and 11-1 in the Big West, including an 80-71 win at UC Riverside on January 14.

The Highlanders are 13-15 overall and in seventh place in the Big West at 4-8. They will bring with them a bit of turmoil – a four-game losing streak and the recent dismissal of its top player.

Taylor Johns, a 6-foot-7 senior forward and a first-team All-Big West selection last season, was dismissed last week for what was described as a violation of team and athletic department rules.

Although Johns was averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot still considers the Highlanders a dangerous opponent.

“In the short term it’s always hard to deal with losing a guy, but now they’ve had a week to prepare for us,” said Ganot, noting that UCR’s last game was at home on Feb. 18, while Hawai’i played road games on Feb. 18 and 20. “They’ve probably made their adjustments and they’re going to be ready to go.”

Ganot also noted that Johns was not much of a factor in the first meeting with Hawai’i. Johns had perhaps his worst game of the season against the Warriors, as he finished with five points and four rebounds before fouling out early.

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UCR still has one of the nation’s top 3-point threats in senior guard Jaylen Bland. He is averaging 16.3 points per game and ranks fourth in the nation with 100 3-pointers. He also ranks among the Big West leaders for 3-point percentage (.413) and steals (42). He has scored 20 or more points in nine games this season, including 22 in the loss to Hawai’i in January.

Secean Johnson, a 6-5 junior, is averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He scored 21 in the loss to Hawai’i.

In contrast to the Highlanders, the Warriors have won six in a row (and 14 of their last 15), and are expected to be at full strength.

Junior center Stefan Jankovic is coming off a monster week on the road, and continues to lead the Warriors in scoring (16.0), rebounding (6.5) and field goal percentage (.572).

Junior forward Aaron Valdes, who did not play in the first meeting at UC Riverside due to a turf toe injury, is averaging 14.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt is cementing his place as the best all-around player in the conference with averages of 13.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game, as well as a team-leading 43 3-pointers and a free-throw percentage of .842.

Sophomore guard Isaac Fleming is averaging 10.3 points per game; junior forward Mike Thomas is averaging 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and had 15 points and nine rebounds at UC Riverside last month; senior guard Quincy Smith is averaging 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, and had 17 points, six assists and five rebounds at UC Riverside last month; senior forward Sai Tummala is averaging 6.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, and ranks second in the Big West in 3-point percentage at .449.

Hawai’i continues to lead the Big West in numerous categories, including scoring (78.3), field goal percentage (.463), rebounding (37.8), assists (16.1) and steals (7.9).

UCR is averaging 70.4 points per game, and ranks second in the conference in total 3-pointers (213) and 3-point percentage (.359).

HAWAI’I VS. UC RIVERSIDE // HAWAI’I VS. CSUN
When:
vs. UC Riverside on Thursday, Feb. 25; vs. CSUN on Saturday, Feb. 27; both games start at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: Lower Level – $26 for any available seats; Upper Level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens (ages 65-older), $5 for students (ages 4-18). Parking is $6.
TV: Both games live on OCSports (Oceanic channels 16 and 1016 in Hawai’i)
Internet video: Live streaming on www.bigwest.tv
Radio: Both games live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet audio: Live on www.espn1420am.com
Theme nights: Thursday is “Retro Aloha Shirt Night” and fans are encouraged to wear retro aloha shirts. Saturday is “Senior Night” and a “White-Out” – fans are encouraged to wear white shirts and stay after the game to honor the senior players.

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Wednesday’s Big West Results
at UC Irvine 90, Long Beach State 67

Thursday’s Big West Games
Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly
UC Santa Barbara at CSUN
UC Riverside at Hawai’i

Saturday’s Big West Games
UC Riverside at Long Beach State
UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton
UC Irvine at UC Davis
CSUN at Hawai’i

11 Comments

  1. Focus,focus,focus on game at hand (Let’s Go Warriors)

  2. This is a good chance for UH to make a big statement with a big win past Riverside. Hawaii favored by 15 on my sheet and I think smart money goes with UH. This really should be blowout with Riverside losing their inside man in Taylor. Janks could be looking at another 30 point game.

  3. Thanks for all the royal fan’s posts, concerns, supports…

    One at a time to run the table then, as NCAA competitor, knocked a couple rankers down…

    Legendarily became the first sweet-sixteen TEAM from the Aloha State!

    Tonight, Rod will picked-up his 7 STL, 11 RB, 3rd 30 PTS and, Taking that game-ball home!

    GOT TO HAVE A DREAM…

  4. With Johns out and AV fully healthy to shut down Bland, it’s going to be a blow-out. Looking forward to seeing 5-0 get some healthy playing time in! UCR does have weapons but they’re going up not only the best offense, but the best defense in the conference as well. Should be a fun game! Looking forward to seeing Fleming get back in his groove, as well as the rest of the team let loose and have some fun in the last week of the regular season at home. Let’s GO BOWS!!

  5. 10300 in house last 2 home games sell outs?Hope so!

    Be there! Warriors making history!!

  6. ‘Control’, Even ‘Shut Down’ Riverside…

    Practice Every-Day And Playoff Readiness, ‘Bows!
    Improve In Minimizing Turnovers and Making Free-Throws

    Tune-Up, Warm-Up, Start-to-PEAK-Performance Time
    For This Week, Next Week’s Road Trip AND “SEVERAL WEEKS” On The ROAD

    Take Care of Business …
    WIN TWO And The Conference Season THIS WEEK

    Ultimately…
    Just KEEP Winnin’!
    Go ‘Bows!

  7. Just Win Bows Just Win!!!

  8. We’re not playing well but the refs are obscenely bad!!

  9. Very disappointed. How do you lose at home to riverside.

  10. I know right? How the hell do we lose to a Taylor-Johns-less team that is actually pretty bad. Well, after watching the game live last night and again on tv after the game at home I’ll tell you how we lost. First, we missed too many free-throws, especially at crucial times at the end of the game. Second, UCR didn’t miss their free-throws and actually played a very good overall game making threes as UH missed a lot of 3’s. Overall, we lost because UH looked complacent like they expected to win. I didn’t see the same focus and intensity as the previous games.

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