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Saturday, January 31, 2004



[ RAINBOW BASKETBALL ]


Road trip can still be
a success for Rainbows


Although the Hawaii men's basketball team saw its winning streak end with a road loss earlier this week, the Rainbow Warriors still have a chance to return home happy.

Hawaii and Tulsa renew their Western Athletic Conference rivalry today at the Donald W. Reynolds Center with the Rainbows looking to salvage a split of their road trip and maintain at least a share of first place in the conference heading into the second half of the WAC schedule.

"I'd look at it as a successful trip, because you're still in first place, we've got three in a row at home and you've been in two of the tougher places to play," UH coach Riley Wallace said.

Hawaii (14-4, 6-2 WAC) had its six-game winning streak broken by Rice on Wednesday, but remains in the three-way tie with the Owls and Fresno State for first-place in the WAC.

Tulsa, the defending WAC tournament champion, enters the game with sub-.500 records overall (7-10) and in the WAC (3-5) and is tied with Boise State for seventh place. It's an unfamiliar position for a program that has posted at least 19 wins in each of the last 10 seasons and has not had a losing season since going 8-20 in the 1987-88 campaign.

Today's game will feature a duel between the WAC's top two scorers in Hawaii's Michael Kuebler (19.7 points per game) and Tulsa's Jason Parker (18.7), and both teams are coming off their best shooting performances of the season.

Hawaii shot a season-high 63 percent from the field in its 76-73 loss to Rice, but was hampered by turnovers (24) and struggled defensively. The Rainbows have worked on protecting the ball against pressure after Rice swiped 16 steals -- two short of a UH opponent record -- on Wednesday.

"We shot the ball great, we just didn't get into our offense because they forced us into 16 steals and got 35 points off of it," Wallace said.

"We have to play much better defense, because these guys are quick too. I'd say they're pretty much the same kind of team (as Rice)."

Kuebler has maintained his hold on the WAC scoring lead by draining 26 of 41 shots (63 percent) over the Rainbows' last three games. Forward Julian Sensley is coming off a career-best 20 points against Rice.

Tulsa hit 66 percent of its shots and went 14-for-19 (74 percent) from the field in the second half of an 86-70 win over San Jose State on Thursday.

Parker, Tulsa's lone senior, was the Golden Hurricane's leading scorer as a junior and considered leaving for the NBA last year. But he withdrew his name in time to return this season and posted 30 points in a loss to Fresno State last week and 25 against SJSU on Thursday.

Wallace said Hawaii point guards Logan Lee and Jason Carter will draw the defensive assignment against Parker, while Kuebler will match up with 6-foot-4 guard Seneca Collins.

After watching Rice forward Michael Harris put up 18 points on Wednesday, Hawaii's post players will again face an athletic front line today. Junior forward Jarius Glenn is the Hurricane's second leading scorer (12.5 ppg) and sophomore center Anthony Price can give defenders fits with his quickness in the paint.

"They've got some good quicks and they really transition well," Wallace said. "We'll have to keep them outside -- we didn't do that against Rice."

Rebounding has been a sore spot for Tulsa, which ranks last in the league in rebounding margin as its opponents snag nearly five more boards than the Golden Hurricane per game.

"I think if we can get that fixed we have the type of team that's close to being really good," Tulsa coach John Phillips said earlier this week.

Tulsa lost a chunk of its scoring and experience with the departure of senior starters Kevin Johnson, Dante Swanson and Charlie Davis last year. The Golden Hurricane entered this season with 10 freshmen or sophomores on the roster and fell into a hole by starting 0-3 in the WAC. But they're now 6-2 at home and have won their last three at the Reynolds Center.

Short shots: The Rainbows return to Honolulu tomorrow and will begin a three-game homestand next Saturday against San Jose State. ... Today's game marks the middle of a stretch of three games in six days for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane end the run against Nevada on Monday. ... Parker was a third-team Verizon Academic All-American last year and earned a degree in management information systems in three years. He is now working on a second degree, this time in economics. ... Lee played with Tulsa forward Guilherme Teichmann at South Plains (Texas) College last year.


Hawaii at Tulsa

When: Today, 10 a.m.

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

TV: Live, KFVE-TV

Radio: Live, 1420-AM

Internet: uhathletics.hawaii.edu


WAC men's standings


Conference All games

W L Pct. W L Pct.
Hawaii 6 2 .750 14 4 .778
Rice 6 2 .750 14 5 .737
Fresno St. 6 2 .750 10 7 .588
UTEP 5 3 .625 14 4 .778
Nevada 5 3 .625 11 6 .647
Louisiana Tech 4 4 .500 10 8 .556
Boise St. 3 5 .375 11 7 .611
Tulsa 3 5 .375 7 10 .412
SMU 2 6 .250 8 10 .444
San Jose St. 0 8 .000 5 13 .278

Today (Hawaii time)
San Jose State at Rice, 9:05 a.m.
Hawaii at Tulsa, 10:05 a.m.
SMU at Boise State, 11 a.m.
Louisiana Tech at UTEP, 4:05 p.m.
Fresno State at Nevada, 5:05 p.m.

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