Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors host Cal Poly on Saturday with win streak on the line

If there is such a thing as defensive fireworks, that might be the expected theme when the University of Hawai’i basketball team hosts Cal Poly in a Big West Conference game on New Year’s Eve.

Saturday’s game will have an earlier-than-usual start of 5:00 p.m. at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, and will be televised in Hawai’i on Spectrum Sports.

The Rainbow Warriors are on a five-game winning streak and have an overall record of 10-3 following a 74-66 Big West win over UC Davis on Thursday. The Mustangs are 7-6 overall and 1-0 in the conference following a 67-57 home win over CSUN on Thursday.

It is a matchup featuring two of the conference’s better defensive squads. Hawai’i is allowing its opponents to score an average of 60.6 points per game with a field goal percentage of .397; Cal Poly is allowing its opponents to score an average of 64.0 points per game with a field goal percentage of .422.

The Warriors also lead the conference in blocked shots with 4.4 per game. They had 12 blocks – one shy of the school record of 13 set in 2006 – in Thursday’s win over UC Davis.

In addition to its defensive discipline, Hawai’i has relied on balanced scoring from its starting five. Junior guard Noel Coleman leads the Warriors in scoring at 14.1 points per game, with senior forward Kamaka Hepa adding 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Hepa (26 3-pointers) and Coleman (23 3s) are also considered the team’s best shooters.

Senior forward Samuta Avea is contributing 9.8 points per game, and junior forward/center Bernardo da Silva is at 9.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Junior point guard JoVon McClanahan has raised his scoring to 8.9 points per game after averaging 15.3 points per game in the last four games. He scored a career-high 23 in the win over UC Davis on Thursday.

While Hawai’i starts a veteran lineup of three juniors and two seniors, the key reserves are sophomores Beon Riley and Justus Jackson, and freshmen Mor Seck and Harry Rouhliadeff.

Cal Poly also relies mostly on its older players. The Mustangs’ top two scorers are seniors Alimamy Koroma and Trevon Taylor. Koroma is an athletic 6-foot-8 center averaging 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He is shooting 52.0 percent from the field, and 78.0 percent on free throws. Taylor, a 6-6 guard/forward, is averaging 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Kobe Sanders, a 6-6 junior guard, had a season-high 17 points in Thursday’s win over CSUN. He entered that gave averaging just 5.6 points per game.

Chance Hunter, a 6-6 forward, is averaging 8.8 points per game and leads the team with 21 3-pointers. He is a graduate transfer from Cal Baptist.

With seven victories already this season, Cal Poly is almost assured of having one of its best seasons in recent history. The Mustangs’ final season records for the previous four seasons were 6-23 in 2018-19, 7-23 in 2019-20, 4-20 in 2020-21, and 7-21 in 2021-22.
Hawai’i has a couple of trends in its favor. The Warriors are currently at No. 111 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, while the Mustangs are at No. 253.

The Warriors have a 13-9 all-time record against Cal Poly, but are 9-3 against the Mustangs in games played in the Stan Sheriff Center. Since 2016, Hawai’i is 8-0 against Cal Poly in games played at the SSC.

HAWAI’I (10-3, 1-0) vs. CAL POLY (7-6, 1-0)
Saturday, December 31, 5:00 p.m.
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu
Tickets: Visit Etickethawaii.com
TV: Spectrum Sports (Channels 12/1012 in Hawai’i)
Video stream: ESPN+ (blacked out in Hawai’i)
Radio: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)

Saturday’s Big West Games
UC Irvine at CSU Bakersfield
UC Riverside at Long Beach State
CSUN at Cal State Fullerton
UC San Diego at UC Santa Barbara
Cal Poly at Hawai’i

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