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Warriors host Nevada on Friday in battle of unbeatens

There are now fewer than 50 undefeated teams remaining in NCAA Division I basketball. Two of them will face each other in the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday night, when 3-0 Hawai’i will host 5-0 Nevada.

The early season showdown is scheduled to start around 8:00 p.m. as part of a UH basketball doubleheader. The Hawai’i women’s team will host Marist at 5:30 p.m., and fans with tickets to the men’s game can enter the arena early to watch both games.

The doubleheader is being promoted as a “Green Out,” and fans are encouraged to wear green shirts.

The Rainbow Warriors will be playing for the first time since November 13, when they beat Troy, 72-67 in overtime, to win the championship of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.

“Not a whole lot of time to rest when you’re preparing for a good team like Nevada,” forward Gibson Johnson said. “We know we have a tough challenge ahead of us, so just preparing for these guys, that’s all we’ve been doing.”

Johnson and fellow forwards Mike Thomas and Jack Purchase have emerged as the early statistical leaders for the Warriors. Thomas, a 6-foot-7 senior, is averaging 18.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game; Johnson, a 6-8 senior, is averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game; Purchase, a 6-9 junior, is contributing 11.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

It makes for an intriguing matchup with the Wolf Pack, who is also led by a trio of forwards.

Jordan Caroline, a 6-7, 230-pound junior, is averaging 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He is the top returning player from last season, and was named to the Preseason All-Mountain West Conference first team.

Twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin are in their first year of eligibility with Nevada after transferring from North Carolina State in 2016. Both players are listed as 6-7, 205-pound junior forwards.

Caleb is averaging 18.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 12 3-pointers; Cody is averaging 15.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

The Wolf Pack finished 29-6 last season, and won the Mountain West Conference regular season and conference championships. With two key starters returning and the Martin twins eligible this season, Nevada was the near-unanimous preseason pick to win the Mountain West again this season.

So far, Nevada is living up to its preseason hype with a 5-0 start, including three double-digit wins since November 15 (93-63 at Santa Clara on Nov. 15; 89-74 at Pacific on Nov. 18; 81-68 vs. Davidson on Nov. 21).

Besides Caroline, the other key returning starter is Lindsey Drew, a 6-4 junior point guard. He is averaging 7.8 points and 5.4 assists per game. He has 27 assists and just three turnovers in five games this season.

The Warriors have been going with a rotation of four guards in the backcourt – sophomore Leland Green (10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds per game), junior Sheriff Drammeh (10.0 points, 3.5 rebounds per game), junior Brocke Stepteau (8.7 points per game, .667 field goal percentage), and freshman Drew Buggs (4.0 points, 3.0 rebounds per game).

Nevada is averaging 10.4 3-pointers made per game, and shooting 43.3 percent from 3-point range. The Wolf Pack is averaging 87.8 points per game (while allowing 70.0), scored at least 81 points in each game this season, and is shooting 50.3 percent from the field overall.

The Wolf Pack has already made 52 3-pointers this season, including 17 in the win at Pacific on Nov. 18. By comparison, Hawai’i has made a total of 14 3-pointers in its three games this season.

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HAWAI’I (3-0, 0-0 Big West) vs. NEVADA (5-0, 0-0 Mountain West)
When: Friday, Nov. 24, 8:00 p.m. (Hawai’i Time)
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300), Honolulu
Television: Live on Spectrum Sports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV (Must be a Spectrum cable subscriber to stream in Hawai’i).
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KPUA on the Big Island, KTOH on Kaua’i, and KNWJ in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Audio Webcast: ESPN1420am.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com
Ticket Information: Lower Level – $30 for all seats; Upper Level (prices vary by section) – $18 or $20 for adults, $16 or $18 for senior citizens (65-older), $5 or $7 for students (ages 4 to high school). UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking is $6.
Doubleheader: The UH women’s team will play Marist at 5:30 p.m. Tickets purchased for the men’s game are also good for the women’s games.
Green Out: Fans are encouraged to wear green shirts.

1 Comment

  1. Stallworth leaving the program, per McInnis.

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