Hawaii (15-12) at Louisiana Tech (14-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 4:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas Assembly Center (8,000) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: ESPN Regional. Home Record: Hawaii 10-5, LaTech 10-4. Away Record: Hawaii 4-6, LaTech 3-9. Neutral Record: Hawaii 1-1, LaTech 1-1. Conference Record: Hawaii 6-5, LaTech 4-7. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 13-9.
GAME NOTES: Coming off their worst beating in two years, the Hawaii Warriors try to bounce back this afternoon as they challenge the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Western Athletic Conference action at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston.
Before getting to Ruston the Warriors made a stop in Las Cruces to take on the New Mexico State Aggies, a move which resulted in an awkward 115-73 loss for the visitors. The 115 points allowed were the most given up by Hawaii since surrendering an incredible 126 points to TCU back in 1998. The defeat was the second in as many games for a Warriors team which is now fourth in the league standings at 6-5.
Over on the other side, the Bulldogs are coming off a lopsided outcome of their own two nights ago, but in their case they were the ones who delivered the 75-49 decision over San Jose State. The victory was the third in a row for LaTech, but the only one in conference play after defeating the likes of North Dakota and Central Arkansas last week. As a result, Tech is still just 4-7 in league play.
LaTech won the first meeting of the season last month by a score of 74-70 on the road in Honolulu, which means the all-time series now numbers 13-9 in favor of the Bulldogs. Raheem Appleby led all scorers with 28 points for the visitors, while Hawaii failed to capitalize on 51.1 percent shooting from the floor because it shot just 3-of-13 behind the three-point line and turned the ball over 18 times.
Still winless in seven trips to the Pan American Center, the Warriors suffered their fifth loss by double digits on Thursday, but this was no regular setback as they fell by a whopping 42 points. Joston Thomas accounted for a team-best 13 points before fouling out, followed by Trevor Wiseman and Shaquille Stokes with 12 and 10 points, respectively, but the threesome also logged eight of the team's 24 turnovers as well. Vander Joaquim, credited with seven points and six rebounds before he too picked up his fifth personal foul, had led the team in scoring in three straight games prior to the stop at NMSU and is still first on the team overall with his 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. However, the gap has narrowed some with Zane Johnson and Thomas checking in with 14.1 and 14.0 ppg, respectively.
Scoring 13 points in the first half, Romario Souza set himself up for a big night on Thursday against San Jose State as he tallied a career-high 19 in the 26-point win. Souza, who shot 8-of-11 from the field, also pulled down eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, his efforts in the paint limiting the Spartans to a mere five second-chance points. Raheem Appleby chipped in 17 points and four steals for the hosts, followed by Trevor Gaskins who contributed 15 points off the bench. Continuing to feed his teammates the ball was Kenneth Smith who logged seven assists. Kenneth Smith keeps putting his own scoring aside and places the interests of the team overall first, which is why he is posting a mere 3.3 ppg and has handed out 122 assists, or maybe it has something to do with the fact that he has shot just 29.3 percent from the floor. Appleby (14.2 ppg), Gaskins (10.4 ppg) and Cordarius Johnson (10.3 ppg) make up for Smith's lack of scoring.
The loss to NMSU surely had to be demoralizing for the Warriors, but they can't afford to keep their heads down because this last stretch of games will go a long way in deciding where they sit in the WAC Tournament. Expect both of these teams to come back to normal, which means Hawaii has a fighting chance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 69, Louisiana Tech 65
02/25 11:35:27 ET