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Warriors face big road test at Illinois on Monday

The University of Hawai’i basketball team will play its first road game of the 2019-20 season on Monday, and it will be quite a test.

The Rainbow Warriors will play at Illinois on Monday, November 18, at the State Farm Center (formerly known as Assembly Hall) in Champaign, Ill. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Central Time (3:00 p.m. Hawai’i time), and it will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

Hawai’i is 3-1 after its four-game homestand to open the season. Illinois is 2-1, with its only loss being a 90-69 road loss at then-No. 21 Arizona.

The Warriors departed Honolulu early on Saturday morning, just a few hours after an 83-75 home win over Portland State. Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini have not played since their road loss at Arizona on November 10.

“No excuses,” UH acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “We want the opportunity to go on the road and beat a really good Illinois team, beat a high-major team on the road. To have a chance to do that, any time you get that opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.”

Hawai’i has won its last two games, thanks in large part to the play of senior Eddie Stansberry. The 6-foot-3 guard scored 26 and 28 points in the respective wins over Pacific and Portland State. He is averaging 20.0 points per game for the season, and leads the team with 14 3-pointers and a .500 percentage from 3-point range (14 for 28).

Samuta Avea, a 6-6 junior forward, is averaging 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and is second on the team with 12 3-pointers. Junior point guard Drew Buggs is contributing 11.8 points and 4.7 assists per game. Senior forward Zigmars Raimo is averaging 8.8 points per game and leads the Warriors with 7.3 rebounds per game.

Raimo, Avea and 7-foot centers Dawson Carper and Mate Colina will need to be at their box-out best against an Illinois team that ranks fourth in the nation with a plus-17 rebounding margin. The Fighting Illini are averaging 44.3 rebounds per game while allowing opponents to grab 27.3.

The early-season surprise for Illinois has been Andres Feliz, a 6-2 senior guard who is originally from the Dominican Republic. He is averaging 19.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game through the first three games. Last season as a junior, he averaged 8.3 points per game as a reserve.

Ayo Dosunmu, a 6-5 sophomore guard, is averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season, and was named to the Big Ten Preseason All-Conference Team prior to this season.

Much of Illinois’ early-season buzz has focused on Kofi Cockburn, a 7-foot freshman center. He is averaging 14.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and is shooting 60 percent from the field. Cockburn is originally from Jamaica, but was recruited to Illinois out of the renowned Oak Hill Academy prep basketball program.

Brad Underwood is in his third season as head coach at Illinois, and the team is expected to make improvements this season. The Fighting Illinois finished 12.21 overall last season and placed 10th (out of 14 teams) in the Big Ten. They were predicted to finish seventh in this year’s Big Ten Conference Preseason Poll.

The last, and only, time Hawai’i played a road game at Illinois was during the 2008-09 season, when Bob Nash was the head coach and Eran Ganot was an assistant coach. The Fighting Illini won that game, 68-56. Ganot remains on an unspecified medical leave of absence as head coach of the current Warriors.

Hawai’i is 0-7 in career games against Illinois, with the most recent loss coming at Honolulu in 2012.

HAWAI’I (3-1) at ILLINOIS (2-1)
Where:
State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
When: Monday, November 18, 7:00 p.m. CT (3:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
TV: Live on ESPNU (Spectrum channel 221/1221 in Hawai’i)
Live streaming: ESPN.com/WatchESPN App
Radio: Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com

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