Coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season, a 21-point drubbing of Big West leader Long Beach State, the Hawai’i Warriors welcome the UC Irvine Anteaters to Honolulu for tonight’s midnight tip.
The Warriors and Anteaters are separated by just a game and a half, making this one important, with both teams jockeying for postseason positioning. It’s also a chance at redemption for the Warriors, who suffered a loss at the hands of the Anteaters, 68-64, in early January.
For the Anteaters, who come in following a loss to lowly Cal State Northridge, it all starts with senior Daman Starring. The leading-scorer for Irvine, Starring is also one of the best three-point shooters in the Big West, knocking down 42.6 percent of his attempts. The rest of their offense is average so for them to remain in the game, they’ll have to get it done on the defensive end and keep this one in the 60s. UC Irvine is, however, one of the best rebounding teams in college basketball (39.1 rpg), so if they can win the battle on the boards, it’ll keep them close.
Hawai’i is slightly better on the boards, averaging 39.7 rpg. The Warriors put up their second-highest point total of the season (94) last time out and need to keep this one up-tempo to account for their lack of defense–they’re allowing 72 points per game, just 2.2 ppg less than they score.
Junior Christian Standhardinger, the reigning Big West Player of the Week (Feb. 4), is coming off this third double-double (20 points, 13 rebounds) in his last four games, all wins, so the Anteaters will need to find an answer for Standhardinger. He’s shooting 62 percent during the four-game winning streak.
After seeing what Hawai’i did to the Big West leader two nights ago, I like their chances of picking up a fifth-straight win and snapping their four-game skid to the Anteaters.