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Warriors host Cal Poly on Thursday in Big West home opener

At this time a week ago, there was one team that appeared to be the clear choice for last place in the Big West Conference: Cal Poly.

Much has changed in one week, and the University of Hawai’i basketball team will go into Thursday’s home game against Cal Poly knowing that there will be no easy wins this season.

The Rainbow Warriors will host the Mustangs in a battle of 1-1 Big West teams at the Stan Sheriff Center. The game is scheduled to start around 8:00 p.m. as part of a UH basketball doubleheader. The UH women’s team will host UC Riverside at 5:30 p.m., and fans with tickets to the men’s game can arrive early to watch both games.

Hawai’i is 10-6 overall after splitting games on a road trip last week – win at Cal State Fullerton, followed by a loss at UC Irvine. Cal Poly is 4-12 overall after splitting home games last week – an 18-point loss to UC Santa Barbara, followed by an 18-point win over CSUN.

The Mustangs surprised the conference with their 74-56 victory over CSUN, in part because it was only their second win over a NCAA Division I opponent this season. What’s more, Cal Poly finished last season with a 2-14 Big West Conference record, although one of those wins came against Hawai’i.

Cal Poly has a new coach this season in John Smith, who was previously an assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton.

Smith has been relying on a team approach, with 11 different players averaging between 11.4 and 24.1 minutes per game, and only one of them (6-3 sophomore guard Junior Ballard) averaging double-figure points at 11.1.

Tuukka Jaakkola, a 6-10 sophomore forward from Finland, is the only player who has started all 16 games for Cal Poly. He is averaging 7.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, and had 17 points and six rebounds in the win over CSUN.

Ballard had 15 points and five rebounds in the win over CSUN. Malek Harwell, a 6-5 grad transfer from Boise State, added 10 points in that win. Harwell is averaging 9.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

Colby Rogers, a 6-5 freshman, is contributing 8.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 23 3-pointers. Kyle Colvin, a 6-6 freshman, is added 7.9 points and a team-high 4.6 rebounds per game.

Mark Crowe, a 6-5 junior forward, was a starter last season, but is playing a reserve role this year. He is averaging just 2.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game, but had a total of 20 points and 10 rebounds in two games against Hawai’i last season.

The Warriors beat the Mustangs, 75-54, last season in the Sheriff Center, but then got upset at Cal Poly, 88-80, just nine days later.

Eddie Stansberry, a 6-3 senior guard, leads Hawai’i in scoring at 17.0 points per game, and 3-pointers with 49. Both of those statistics rank second in the Big West. Junior forward Samuta Avea, ranks second for the Warriors in scoring (11.5), rebounding (4.2) and 3-pointers (31).

Junior point guard Drew Buggs is contributing 9.9 points, a Big West-leading 5.4 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game.

Senior forward Zigmars Raimo leads the Big West in rebounding at 7.3 per game, and is also contributing 8.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. He averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the two games against Cal Poly last season.

Freshman Bernardo da Silva and sophomore Dawson Carper have been sharing time at the center position, and are averaging nearly identical numbers. Da Silva is at 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game; Carper is at 5.6 poinnts and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Carper could be a wildcard factor against Cal Poly. He averaged 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 10 for 12 from the field as a reserve in two games against the Mustangs last season.

Interesting statistic: When Cal Poly scored 70 or more points this season, its record is 4-2. When the Mustangs scored less than 70, their record is 0-10. Hawai’i is averaging 70.9 points per game, while Cal Poly is averaging 63.2.

HAWAI’I (10-6, 1-1 Big West) vs. CAL POLY (4-12, 1-1 Big West)
When:
 Thursday, Jan. 16, 8:00 p.m.  HT
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) – Honolulu, HI
Television: 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 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
Ticket Information: Lower level – $32; Upper level (prices vary by section) – $22 or $15 for adults, $18 or $13 for senior citizens, $8 or $5 for students. Free for UH Manoa students with ID. UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking is $7.
Doubleheader: Fans can use their same ticket to arrive early and watch the UH women’s team vs. UC Riverside at 5:30 p.m.
Military Appreciation Night: Active, DOD civilians, reservists, and retired members of the military will receive 50% off regularly priced tickets in select areas through GovX. Qualifying military members may log in or sign up on www.govx.com for exclusive ticket discounts. Tickets are in special sections and supplies are limited. Other restrictions may apply.  
Promotions:  Hawaiian Airlines is the sponsor on Thursday and will distribute Foam Shakas along with awarding other great prizes throughout the night.

Big West Conference
Wednesday’s Results

UC Irvine 74, at Cal State Fullerton 61

Thursday’s Games
CSUN at UC Riverside
UC Davis at Long Beach State
Cal Poly at Hawai’i, 8:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

Saturday’s Games
UC Davis at CSUN
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
UC Riverside at UC Irvine
UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i, 8:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

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