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Warriors host UNLV in Diamond Head opener on Saturday afternoon

The most wonderful time of the year begins Saturday for the University of Hawai’i basketball team. If the Rainbow Warriors want a chance to unwrap a championship trophy on Christmas Day next Tuesday, they’ll first have to play nice against UNLV on Saturday.

Hawai’i hosts UNLV in an opening round game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center. The game will be starting earlier than usual – 12 noon is the scheduled start time – due to the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl football game later on Saturday night. It will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

The Warriors are 5-4; the Runnin’ Rebels are 6-4. The Diamond Head Classic, which has been held during Christmas week every year since 2009, is a three-day, eight-team tournament with every game televised nationally on one of the ESPN stations.

Based on records and statistics, the Warriors and Rebels appear to be evenly matched. Example: Hawai’i is averaging 73.5 points per game and UNLV is at 73.2; the Warriors are allowing an average of 68.2 points per game and UNLV is at 68.7.

Both teams have been relying on balanced scoring, and have recently bounced back from rough stretches.

Hawai’i had a three-game losing streak on the road earlier in the season, but has since won two straight at home, including a 76-51 romp over Mississippi Valley State on Sunday.

Eddie Stansberry, a 6-3 junior, leads the Warriors in scoring with 11.8 points per game. He also leads the team 30 3-pointers, and is shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc.

Jack Purchase, a 6-9 senior forward, is contributing 11.4 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game. Brocke Stepteau, a 5-9 senior guard, is averaging 11.1 points and 3.1 assists per game; Zigmars Raimo, a 6-7 junior forward, is averaging 10.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, and leads the team with a .629 field goal percentage; Drew Buggs, a sophomore point guard, is contributing 8.7 points and 5.4 assists per game.

Senior guard Sheriff Drammeh did not appear in Hawai’i’s last game due to a violation of team rules. He returned to practices this week.

UNLV ended its three-game losing streak with a 92-90 overtime victory over BYU last Saturday. Kris Clyburn, a 6-6 senior guard, scored a career-high 21 points in the win. He leads the Rebels in overall scoring at 12.3 points per game.

Amauri Hardy, a 6-2 senior guard, also scored 21 in the win over BYU, and he is currently averaging 11.6 points per game.

Joel Ntambwe, a 6-9 freshman forward, has emerged in recent weeks. He is averaging 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds for the season, but had a total of 40 points and 18 rebounds in just the last two games. Cheikh Mbacke Diong, a 6-11 sophomore center, is averaging 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and leads the team with a .667 field goal percentage.

As the last two names above suggest, UNLV has an African influence on its roster. It includes two players from Cameroon, and one each from Congo, Mali and Senegal. All five of those players are 6-8 and taller.

UNLV senior forward Shakur Juiston (10.8 points, 8.8 rebounds) is not expected to play due to a knee injury.

— — — — —

2019 Diamond Head Classic field is announced

On the eve of the 2018 Diamond Head Classic, the eight-team field for the 2019 Diamond Head Classic was announced.

The teams for next year are Ball State, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Hawai’i, Houston, Portland, UTEP and Washington.

— — — — —

HAWAI’I (5-4) vs. UNLV (6-4)
When:
Saturday, December 22, 12 noon
TV: Live on ESPNU
Streaming Video: watchESPN.com
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 – $18 or $20 for adults, $16 or $18 for senior citizens (ages 65 and older), $5 or $7 for students (ages 4 through high school). Upper level prices vary by section. Parking is $6. ber 22, 12 noon

Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic Schedule
Saturday’s Games

10:00 a.m. – Colorado vs. Indiana State
12:00 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. UNLV
5:00 p.m. – Rhode Island vs. Bucknell
7:30 p.m. – TCU vs. Charlotte

Sunday’s Games
*11:30 a.m. – Semifinal game 1
*2:00 p.m. – Consolation game 1
5:00 p.m. – Semifinal game 2
7:30 p.m. – Semifinal game 2

Tuesday’s Games (Dec. 25)
*8:00 a.m. – 5th or 7th place game
*10:00 a.m. – 5th or 7th place game
*1:30 p.m. – 3rd place game
*4:30 p.m. – Championship game

* Potential Hawai’i game

3 Comments

  1. UNLV looks pretty solid. They got athletic bigs and guards.
    Need to limit turnovers and fouls. Hopefully we can take them out of their game.

    Go Bows!!

  2. UNLV squashed uc riverside this year. It’s going to be a good test for us.

  3. Good to hear that Drammeh is back. I think we will need him in this tournament for his defense.

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