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Warriors host UC Santa Barbara in Big West battle

The University of Hawai’i basketball team got tested on Thursday; UC Santa Barbara got rested. Those two teams will meet on Saturday in a Big West Conference game 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 Cal State Fullerton in the first game at 5:30 p.m. Fans with tickets to the men’s game can arrive early to watch both games.

The Rainbow Warriors are 11-6 overall and 2-1 in the Big West following a tougher-than-expected 65-61 home win over Cal Poly on Thursday. The Gauchos are 12-5 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Their last game was a 55-52 home loss to Long Beach State on January 11.

They are two of the five Big West teams that currently have one loss in conference play. UC Irvine at 2-0 is the lone unbeaten team atop the standings.

“It’s a huge game,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “It’s a tight turnaround, in league play, against a team that’s picked to compete for a league championship that a lot of teams think has the most talent, and they have the most returning.”

Although this is just the second week of conference action, Hawai’i and UCSB already share a common opponent in Cal Poly.

The Warriors opened strong against Cal Poly on Thursday, and led by as many as 16 points. The second half was a different story, as Hawai’i struggled and allowed the Mustangs to cut the deficit to one in the closing minutes.

UCSB defeated Cal Poly 63-45 on January 8 at San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The Gauchos can attack from all angles, with four players averaging double-figure points. JaQuori McLaughlin, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, is averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. Amadou Sow, a 6-9 sophomore forward, is averaging 14.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Max Heidegger, a 6-3 senior guard, recently returned to action from the injury list and is averaging 12.7 points per game. Matt Freeman, a 6-10 graduate transfer from Oklahoma, is contributing 10.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 29 3-pointers.

Hawai’i is led by senior guard Eddie Stansberry, who ranks second in the Big West for both scoring (17.0) and 3-pointers (52).

The question mark for the Warriors entering this game is junior forward Samuta Avea. He sat out the closing minutes of the win over Cal Poly with what appeared to be a back injury. He is averaging 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Junior point guard Drew Buggs is averaging 9.6 points per game and leads the Big West in assists at 5.4 per game. Senior forward Zigmars Raimo leads the Big West in rebounding at 7.6 per game, and is also contributing 8.9 points and 3.7 assists per game.

UCSB swept the home-and-home series last season, winning 75-54 in Honolulu, and then 79-61 in Santa Barbara.

HAWAI’I (11-6, 2-1 Big West) vs. UC SANTA BARBARA (12-5, 1-1)
When: Saturday, Jan. 18, 8:00 p.m.  HT
Where: 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: $5-$30. UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Available for purchase online. Saturday is “Hometown Heroes Day” and all First Responder (EMTs, Firefighters, and Police) will receive 50% off select adult tickets (maximum of eight). A valid identification card is required when purchasing tickets at the Stan Sheriff Center Box Office. Supplies are limited and other restrictions may apply.
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.
Promotions: California Hotel & Casino is the sponsor and will award a Vacations Hawaii trip for two to the newly renovated California Hotel & Casino to the winner of the “Shaka Nene” contest at intermission. Fans can register to participate at the sports marketing table located at Gate A.

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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