Saturday, February 2, 2002
[ UH BASKETBALL ]
Bows feed off"Be like Mike."
Mikes hot streak
Hawaii looks to get past UTEP
with the help of more outstanding
shooting by McIntyre
By Cindy Luis
It's not just reserved for the Michael Jordan pretenders. It's become the feeling around the Hawaii basketball team.
For the 18-3 Rainbows, it's "Be like Mike ... McIntyre." The senior guard has come off the bench to lead by example, igniting Hawaii's last three victories over Rice, Tulsa and Boise State with his 3-point shooting and his defense.
"We have seven starters and the problem is, only five can play at one time," said senior forward Mindaugas Burneika, Hawaii's seventh man. "You see him shoot well and you want to be like Mike.
"I don't mind not starting. It's easier because you know your job. You make the shots, you stay in. If you don't, you go back to the bench."
Hawaii will need a team effort tonight against Texas-El Paso. The Miners' 8-12 record is deceptive, according to Rainbows coach Riley Wallace.
"On any given night, they can play with anyone in the league," said Wallace. "Some teams match up better and they obviously do with us.
"We had a tough game at their place earlier, won by two. They have three starters back from a team that beat us twice last year. They're a better offensive team than Boise, so we know we have to be ready for them."
Thursday night, the Miners fell behind by 22 at halftime at San Jose State. Junior forward Roy Smallwood scored nine points as UTEP opened the second half with a 17-2 run, but it wasn't enough to prevent his team from losing its 11th consecutive road game, 67-62.
On Jan. 3, Hawaii opened its conference road schedule with a 70-68 victory at UTEP, just the fourth win in 22 games at what is now the Don Haskins Center. Senior guard Predrag Savovic scored 29 points, hitting five 3-pointers, in the victory.
Savovic has had several big games against the Miners. Last year, he scored his career high (31) against them and, as a sophomore, he had a combined 45 points in the two games with UTEP.
"They're just another team, but they are a good team," said Savovic. "I enjoy playing against good teams. It's just another game, but we need to keep winning."
Hawaii, 9-1 in Western Athletic Conference play for the first time, is two wins away from what would be Wallace's fourth 20-win season. It would be the first time since 1997-98 that the Rainbows reached that milestone.
"A 20-win season is always good, but we have to think better than that," said Wallace. "We've put ourselves in this position and we want to get in (the NCAA Tournament) on our own merits at the end.
"Some might say that our record is due to strength of scheduling. But this is the same (WAC) schedule as before and we didn't win those games. We've got a good team, one that plays better against better teams."
If there is a downside to the Rainbows, it's their tendency to play down to the level of their competition. Hawaii has struggled against the bottom teams in the WAC, most recently Thursday against Boise State.
"But the difference with this year's team is how we play in tight games," said Burneika. "Last year's team got down if it was close at the end. This year, when it's tight, you know you're going to win.
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE-TV (Channel 5)
Radio: Live, 1420-AM
"I hope tomorrow we will play better because UTEP is a better team than Boise. They have more experience and they know our offense. They also beat us twice last year."
UTEP was the only WAC team to defeat Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center last season, pulling out a 79-71 victory. Since that defeat, the Rainbows have won 19 of their last 20 at home.
Wallace only used seven players against Boise State on Thursday. He hopes to be able to work several others into the rotation tonight, most notably junior forward Paul Jesinskis and freshman forward Tony Akpan.
"I'd like to play everybody, but when a game is close, I'll play it close to the vest," he said.
Conference Overall W L Pct. GB W L Hawaii 9 1 .900 -- 18 3 Tulsa 8 2 .800 1 17 4 La Tech 6 3 .667 2 12 7 SMU 6 3 .667 2 11 8 Fresno St. 6 4 .600 3 14 8 Nevada 5 5 .500 4 12 8 UTEP 3 7 .300 6 9 13 Boise St. 2 8 .200 7 8 12 Rice 2 8 .200 7 7 13 San Jose St. 2 8 .200 7 7 14
UTEP at Hawaii, 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center
Boise State at San Jose State
Fresno State at Rice
Louisiana Tech at SMU
Nevada at Tulsa
STARTING LINEUPSHAWAII (18-3, 9-1)
Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast. G Carl English (So.) 6-5 13.7 4.6 3.9 G Mark Campbell (Jr.) 6-4 4.0 2.0 4.1 G Predrag Savovic (Sr.) 6-6 19.0 4.4 2.0 F Phil Martin (So.) 6-8 9.3 5.1 0.7 C Haim Shimonovich(So.) 6-10 8.3 6.8 3.4
UTEP (9-13, 3-7)
Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast. G Eugene Costello (Sr.) 5-10 12.9 4.0 3.2 G Chris Neal (Sr.) 6-2 8.4 1.4 1.9 F Roy Smallwood (Jr.) 6-4 13.3 6.7 1.9 F Justino Victoriano (So.) 6-0 6.1 3.2 0.9 C Brian Stewart (Jr.) 6-9 6.9 5.2 1.3
Notes: UTEP leads the series 31-13. The Rainbows have swept the season series three times, the last in 1994. ... Hawaii coach Riley Wallace is in his 15th season (234-201). ... The Rainbows are coming off a 67-56 win over Boise State on Thursday to run their best-ever WAC record to 9-1. In their nine WAC wins, the Rainbows have hit at least seven 3-pointers in each contest. They are averaging 8.3 per game, shooting at a 44 percent clip. ... In his last three games, senior guard Mike McIntyre has hit a combined 14 3-pointers. He and senior guard Predrag Savovic are tied for the team lead at 39. Savovic (142) needs 20 3-pointers to pass Alika Smith for the school's all-time record. McIntyre needs 27 to pass Smith. ... UTEP coach Jason Rabedeaux is in his third year (45-37). The Miners were 23-9 last season and were picked to finish fourth in the WAC preseason poll. ... UTEP had won three of four before falling at San Jose State on Thursday, 67-62. It was the Miners' 11th consecutive road loss, dating back to last season; they are 0-8 this year. In the loss, Roy Smallwood became the 18th player in UTEP history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in a career. ... The Miners are averaging 68.5 points per game this season after a school-record 80.3 last year. ... After registering eight wins when trailing at the half last year, the Miners are 2-10 when behind at the break this season.
Ka Leo O Hawaii