Rainbows looking to eliminate road misery
UH, which has lost 19 of its last 21 on the road, plays at Utah State tonight
A Hawaii basketball team already struggling on the road visits an arena tonight where guests rarely leave happy.
Utah State has won its last 13 games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, losing only nine times in their home arena in 117 games there during coach Stew Morrill's tenure.
Not the best news for a Rainbow Warriors squad that has lost 19 of its last 21 road games, including all five this season
The team pulled into Logan yesterday, stinging from its most lopsided loss of the season, a 73-55 defeat at Nevada on Saturday, and spent the evening working to adjust to the thin mountain air in preparation for tonight's Western Athletic Conference matchup.
"They labored through altitude," UH coach Riley Wallace said after the team's practice last night. "It's worse here than it is (in Reno) and last night kicked them in the butt hard. We pushed them through it, tonight."
Although the Rainbows (10-7, 4-3) are far from home, the game will be played on Hawaii time. The game's tip-off is 10 p.m. Mountain time, which is 7 p.m. in Hawaii, the regular starting time for UH's home games, and it will be televised on ESPN2 to cap the network's Big Monday lineup.
Wallace hopes the national attention helps spark the Rainbows tonight.
"They don't want people and the rest of the world to see them looking like they did the other night," he said.
The UH lineup could have a different look today depending on the status of guard Deonte Tatum's sprained ankle. The senior suffered the injury during Saturday's game.
Utah State (14-4, 5-2) is in contention for the WAC championship in its inaugural season in the league and entered today's play alone in second place, trailing league leader Louisiana Tech (7-1).
Hawaii spoiled Utah State's WAC debut with a 69-59 win at the Stan Sheriff Center on Dec. 17. Since then, the Aggies are 11-1, their only blemish a double-overtime loss at Fresno State.
The Aggies enter the game with one of the WAC's most productive attacks, led by forward Nate Harris and guard Jaycee Carroll. Utah State leads the conference in field-goal percentage and ranks among the WAC leaders in scoring offense.
"They run that motion offense that makes you work," Wallace said. "You have a lot of movement and that's a pretty good strategy because it wears you down."
Hawaii was responsible for one of Utah State's few home losses, earning an 85-74 win in the first round of the 2004 National Invitation Tournament.
The Rainbows started that game on fire from the field and were able to hold on for the program's first road win over a ranked opponent.
"The team that came in here (in 2004), altitude did not even affect them," Wallace said. "Part of it's mental, part of it's physical and how you handle it."
Although Logan's elevation might make it tougher to play an up-tempo game, the Rainbows won't look to slow down the pace against the Aggies after posting their second-lowest point total of the season against Nevada.
"We have to generate more offense," Wallace said. "They're one of the highest scoring teams, so you've got to produce yourself.
"We've got to get up and down the floor because we don't have enough offense just to rely on half-court offense. We've got to get some fast-break points and that comes off a better job rebounding."