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Warriors host 49ers in Big West home opener

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Is Long Beach State still woozy from that ridiculous pre-conference schedule, or are the 49ers going to emerge as the team that was predicted to win the Big West Conference?

The University of Hawai’i basketball team will have to be prepared either way on Saturday, when it hosts the 49ers in a conference game at the Stan Sheriff Center. It is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m., and will be televised in Hawai’i on OCSports (Oceanic channels 16 and 1016).

Hawai’i is 6-9 overall and 0-2 in the Big West following two road losses last week. Long Beach State is 6-13 overall and 1-2 in the conference, including an 89-82 home loss to CSUN on Wednesday. Essentially, both teams need a win to start some momentum in the conference season.

The 49ers are 1-11 in road games this season, with the only win at Oregon State (71-67) on December 16. However, most of the other road losses came via “bodybag” games, which involve LBSU playing at top-ranked opponents in exchange for an appearance fee. Among those road losses are North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA, Washington, Kansas and Texas.

Still, the 49ers remain a dangerously talented team, by Big West standards, even without their best inside player, Gabe Levin, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury. Levin, who is averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, probably won’t be ready to play at Hawai’i.

Evan Payne, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who transferred from Loyola Marymount, leads LBSU in scoring at 14.0 points per game. He also leads the team with 32 3-pointers and a .372 percentage from 3-point range.

The key player for the 49ers, however, might be 5-8 junior point guard Justin Bibbins, who is averaging 11.1 points, 4.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.

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In the absence of Levin, juniors Temidayo Yussuf and Roschon Prince have become the 49ers’ primary players in the post. Yussuf, who is 6-7 and 255 pounds, is averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game; Prince, who is 6-6 and 235 pounds, is averaging 7.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Other key contributors for the 49ers include shooting specialist Noah Blackwell (6.7 points per game, 25 3-pointers), 5-8 freshman guard Loren Jackson (4.8 points per game), 6-3 freshman guard Jordan Griffin (4.5 points per game) and 6-8, 255-pound sophomore forward Mason Riggins (2.3 points, 2.5 rebounds per game).

While the rest of the conference played on either Wednesday or Thursday, the Warriors have had a full week to recover from an 0-2 road trip last week and prepare for the 49ers this week.

Hawai’i has been in an offensive funk for the past month, and currently ranks last in the Big West in scoring at 64.0 points per game, and is second to last in field goal percentage at .389. However, the Warriors are surrendering just 66.0 points per game, which ranks second in the conference for points allowed.

Gibson Johnson, a 6-8 junior forward, now leads the Warriors in scoring at 10.8 points per game, and is second in rebounding at 4.8.

Noah Allen, a 6-7 senior, is averaging 10.4 points and a team-high 5.0 rebounds per game, but has struggled since moving to a reserve role in the last four games. Through the first nine games of this season, Allen was averaging 14.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He had a total of two points and one rebound in the two road losses last week.

Sophomore forward Jack Purchase is averaging 10.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 33 3-pointers and a .359 percentage from 3-point range. Sophomore guard Sheriff Drammeh is contributing 9.8 points per game, and sophomore guard Brocke Stepteau is averaging 7.3 points and 2.6 assists per game.

The latest contributor has been freshman guard Leland Green, who is averaging 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game since he was re-inserted into the starting lineup four games ago.

HAWAI’I (6-9, 0-2 Big West) vs. LONG BEACH STATE (6-13, 1-2 Big West)
When:
Saturday, January 14, 7:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Television: OCSport (Oceanic channels 16 and 1016)
Streaming Video: BigWest.tv
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM
Audio Webcast: espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Statbroadcast.com
Ticket Information: Lower level – $30 all seats; Upper level – $18-$20 (adults); $16-$18 (senior citizens); $5-$7 (ages 4-high school); UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking is $6.

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Saturday, January 14
Cal State Fullerton at UC Irvine
Cal Poly at UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis at CSUN
Long Beach State at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

2 Comments

  1. Rapid fire articles. Bloggers don’t have a chance to post comments.
    I hope the UH comes out with rapid fire shots. Cut that shot clock in half, and run away from the other team. Don’t let them settle in. Don’t trade baskets. Come out hot, and stay hot through the game. Start strong and finish strong.
    Run. Go Bows!

  2. Tonight the Warriors can send a statement to Monsen and his boys. This is our House and you will go home licking your wounds and we will protect the house We are the defending conference champs and will start playing like it starting tonight
    It’s time to get some nasty under the basket. I don’t care who we play or what we have in our roster Start playing with a new mindset !! Losing gets habit forming. Come on. !

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