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Warriors host UTEP in Diamond Head Classic opener

If the Christmas season is about tradition, then perhaps it is fitting that the University of Hawai’i basketball team is hosting UTEP on the opening night of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

The former conference rivals will meet on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center. It will be the fourth game of the opening day of the eight-team tournament. It will also be televised nationally on ESPN2.

The Rainbow Warriors are 7-3, including 7-1 in the Sheriff Center. The Miners are 8-2 and have already matched their win total from all of last season, when they finished 8-21.

From 1980-2005, Hawai’i and UTEP were members of the Western Athletic Conference. They played each other 52 times during those years, with the Miners earning a 35-17 advantage. Sunday will be the first meeting between the teams since UTEP departed the WAC in 2005 for Conference USA.

The Warriors are relying on sharpshooting and sharp passing this season. Eddie Stansberry, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is averaging 19.7 points per game and ranks among the national leaders with 38 3-pointers. He is shooting 42.7 percent from 3-point range, and has scored 20 or more points in seven of 10 games.

Samuta Avea, a 6-6 junior forward, is also proving his worth as a scorer. He is averaging 11.1 points per game and ranks second on the team with 21 3-pointers while shooting 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Drew Buggs, a 6-3 junior point guard, is averaging 10.9 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. Led by Buggs, the Warriors are averaging 15.2 assists per game.

Zigmars Raimo, a 6-9 senior forward, has been an all-around contributor. He is averaging 9.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Dawson Carper, a 7-foot sophomore center, is contributing 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and is shooting 71.7 percent from the field.

It should make for an intriguing matchup with the Miners who have been solid on defense so far this season. UTEP is allowing just 61.2 points per game, and opponents are shooting 39.1 percent from the field.

UTEP is led by a standout player in Bryson Williams, a 6-8 junior forward who is averaging 19.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He is shooting 60.7 percent from the field overall and 61.9 percent from 3-point range (13 for 21). Williams played his first two seasons at Fresno State, then transferred to UTEP to follow head coach Rodney Terry.

Terry was the head coach at Fresno State for seven seasons, and is now in his second season at UTEP.

Souley Boum, a 6-3 sophomore guard, is averaging 11.7 points per game and is the only other Miner averaging double-figure points. Another key contributor is Daryl Edwards, a 6-3 senior guard who is averaging 9.5 points per game and leads the team with 17 3-pointers. He is a graduate transfer from LSU.

HAWAI’I (7-3, 0-0 Big West) vs. UTEP (8-2, 0-0 Conference USA)
When:
Sunday, December 22, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: ESPN2
Streaming video: WatchESPN.com / ESPN App
Radio:  Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast:ESPN1420am.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats:StatBroadcast.com
Ticket Information: Lower level – $30 for all available seats. Upper level – $18 for adults, $10 for senior citizens (65-older) and students (ages 4 through high school). Parking is $7.

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2019 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
Stan Sheriff Center
Sunday’s Games

10:00 a.m. – Houston vs. Portland
12:00 p.m. – Boise State vs. Georgia Tech
4:30 p.m. – Ball State vs. Washington
6:30 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. UTEP

Monday, December 23
11:30 a.m. – Consolation game
2:00 p.m. – Semifinal game
6:30 p.m. – Semifinal game*
8:30 p.m. – Consolation game*

Wednesday, December 25
8:30 a.m. – 7th place game*
10:30 a.m. – 5th place game*
1:30 p.m. – 3rd place game*
3:30 p.m. – Championship game*

*Potential Hawai’i game



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