Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors take on undefeated UNLV on Wednesday

Everyone travels to Las Vegas prepared for excitement and wins against the odds. The University of Hawai’i basketball is looking for just that when it plays a non-conference game against UNLV on Wednesday.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

It is officially a “neutral site” game because it is being played at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nev. However, the UNLV campus and the famous Vegas Strip are each about a 15-minute drive away.

Wednesday’s game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i Time). It will be video streamed via UNLV’s YouTube channel and broadcast via ESPN Honolulu radio (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app).

The Rainbow Warriors are 5-2 following a home upset loss to Texas A&M-Commerce. The Runnin’ Rebels are 8-0 and one of 12 remaining undefeated teams in NCAA Division I. Among UNLV’s wins are then-No. 21 ranked Dayton, Minnesota, and Southern Illinois.

“They can pressure 1 through 5,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said, referring to UNLV’s ability to defend all positions. “And they have great depth and they have great strength, so they get turnovers in every which way you can.”

As might be expected for an 8-0 team, UNLV has some impressive statistics. The Rebels are out-scoring opponents by an average score of 80.0-60.2. They are led by an attacking defense that leads the nation in turnovers forced per game (21.9) and is seventh in the country in steals per game (11.5).

The Rebels also epitomize the modern formula for roster building in college basketball. Seven of their top eight players transferred to UNLV from other NCAA-I programs in either 2021 or 2022, including senior reserve guard Justin Webster. He was the leading scorer and captain of the 2020-21 Hawai’I team, and transferred to UNLV after that season.

UNLV’s leading scorer is Keshon Gilbert, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard who is averaging 14.6 points and 3.8 assists per game. He is also 14 for 24 (58.3 percent) from 3-point range.

Among the top transfer players are EJ Harkless (previously at CSUN/Oklahoma), Luis Rodriguez (Ole Miss), Jackie Johnson III (Duquesne) and David Muoka (Lamar).

Harkless, a 6-3 graduate transfer, is averaging 14.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Rodriguez, a 6-6 senior, is contributing 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 19 steals. Johnson, a 5-11 sophomore, is averaging 9.8 points per game as the team’s “sixth man.” Muoka, a 6-10 senior, is contributing 5.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game and leads the team with 13 blocked shots.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Hawai’i has also been strong defensively during this early season. The Warriors rank 13th in NCAA-I for points allowed at 57.3 per game. They are also seventh in the nation for 3-point field goal percentage allowed at .248.

The Warriors have not allowed an opponent to score more than 65 points this season; the Rebels have scored more than 65 in six of their eight wins.

Hawai’i is led by junior guard Noel Coleman, who is averaging 17.4 points and 3.0 assists per game, and also leads the team with 19 3-pointers. Junior forward/center Bernardo da Silva is averaging 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, and is shooting an efficient 58.6 percent from the field.

Hawai’i’s other starters are junior guard JoVon McClanahan (5.9 points, 2.7 assists), senior guard/forward Samuta Avea (9.0 points, 2.7 rebounds) and senior forward Kamaka Hepa (9.6 points, The Warriors have started the same five players in all seven games this season.

HAWAI’I (5-2) vs. UNLV (8-0)
Wednesday, December 7, 7:00 p.m. Pacific (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
Where: Dollar Loan Center, Henderson, Nev.
TV: None
Video streaming: UNLV YouTube
Radio: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)
Live stats: unlvrebels.com

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