RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
The last time Hawaii faced UNLV, on Nov. 22, Julian Sensley was held scoreless for the first time in his UH career as the 'Bows fell 67-61 in Las Vegas. The teams face off again tomorrow, this time at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH wants loss to stay in Vegas
The Rainbows can avenge their road loss to the Runnin' Rebels at home tomorrow night
Although it was a night many on the Hawaii sideline would rather forget, memories of their trip to Las Vegas last month remain fresh in the minds of the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawaii vs. UNLV
When: Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Tickets: $25 (lower level); $20 (upper level, adult); $5 (upper level, students), $3 (upper level, UH students); $5 (Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs)
Promotion: "Green and White night." Fans sitting in sections behind the team benches are encouraged to wear green. Those opposite the benches are asked to wear white.
The 'Bows were still basking in the warmth of a season-opening upset of Michigan State when they suddenly went frigid in a 67-61 loss to UNLV on Nov. 22.
A couple of weeks have passed since that night in Nevada, and the Rainbows (2-1) hope to make the most of their second chance against the Runnin' Rebels (2-3) as they complete the home-and-home nonconference series between the schools.
"Now we know what to expect," forward Julian Sensley said. "As bad as we played, we only lost by six. If we come out and play like we usually play at home, we should be fine."
Tip-off for the rematch is set for 7:05 p.m. tomorrow at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Hawaii hit just one of 17 shots from 3-point range and went 6-for-18 at the free-throw line in its loss at UNLV, with Sensley going 0-for-11 from the field and being held scoreless for the first time in his UH career.
Sensley bounced back with a 22-point performance in UH's rout of Saint Louis four days later, and the Rainbows hope to continue their hot shooting at home in the rematch with the Rebels.
Hawaii is shooting 48 percent at the Sheriff Center, and made 21 of 46 3-pointers in home wins over Michigan State and Saint Louis.
"It's a lot different," said guard Matt Lojeski, UH's leading scorer with 15.7 points per game. "You're a lot more familiar with the background, the court, everything like that, so you're a little more confident. You've got your fans and your energy. That helped them a lot at their place."
Along with its struggles shooting the ball, UH also had difficulty countering UNLV's quickness on the perimeter and the inside presence of forward Louis Amundson, who finished with 22 points and 21 rebounds against UH.
The Rebels hounded UH's guards and disrupted the flow of the UH offense by crowding the passing lanes, particularly the entry passes from the guards to the big men that trigger their halfcourt sets.
"They did a good job of watching film and seeing how we start our offense," guard Deonte Tatum said. "By them taking away that first pass, that slows down a lot of our offense. We worked on getting open and not letting them take away stuff from us.
"We learned we can't let people take our bread and butter away. We have to come out and establish our game. We can't allow another team, whether we're on the road or whether we're at home, to take us out of what we want to do."
The Rainbows went to a zone defense in the second half against UNLV, which proved effective in slowing down the Rebels' offense but also gave Amundson room to track down rebounds.
UH forward Ahmet Gueye broke out for 21 points against the Rebels, but came away less than satisfied with his performance against Amundson.
"Watching the film, I didn't play good defense," he said. "People were telling me I did a good job, scoring 21 points, but to me I didn't have a good game. For me having a good game is playing defense."
Hawaii and UNLV were both Western Athletic Conference members for three years in the 1990s, before UNLV and seven other schools broke away to form the Mountain West Conference.
But with the schools entering into a deal to play each other twice this year and again next season, the series reminds the players of preparing to face a league opponent.
"That's exactly what it feels like," Tatum said. "I'm sure they went back and watched the film and saw some things they could have done better, just like we saw things we could have done better."
Where the Rainbows have had a week off to recharge heading into the rematch with UNLV, the Rebels haven't had much time to catch their breath lately.
Tomorrow's game is the third stop on a four-game road trip that takes them through Oklahoma, Oregon, Hawaii and Minnesota.