’Bows look to reverse fortunes at Nevada
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There's a first time for everything -- at least the Hawaii basketball team hopes that'll be the case today.
Hawaii (10-11, 6-3 WAC) at Nevada (14-8, 6-3)
When: Today, 1 p.m.
Where: Lawlor Events Center
Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
The Rainbow Warriors are 0-9 all-time in Reno, Nev., and take another shot at winning in the World's Biggest Little City today when they face Nevada at the Lawlor Events Center.
The game is set for 1 p.m. Hawaii time and will be televised on ESPN2.
Since dropping a 77-59 decision to the Wolf Pack in Honolulu on Jan. 12, the Rainbows (10-11, 6-3 Western Athletic Conference) have reeled off five wins in six games, including the last three.
They've had a full week to prepare for the game against Nevada (14-8, 6-3), which put a 38-point beating on San Jose State on Thursday.
"We've had time to get ready for them but it only means something if we come out and give great effort," UH coach Bob Nash said. "We've had the time to get ready, we've had good practices. Now we've got to transfer that into a great performance in the game."
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The Hawaii basketball team's itinerary during its visit to Reno doesn't allow much time for indulging in the attractions -- and distractions -- the northern Nevada town has to offer.
The Rainbow Warriors had an early wake-up call for yesterday morning's practice and are scheduled for 8 a.m. shootaround today leading up to their afternoon meeting with Nevada in a nationally televised contest at the Lawlor Events Center.
And the closest they've come to the slot machines downstairs in the Silver Legacy hotel was walking through the lobby to the team bus.
"This is strictly a business trip and everybody's staying on task and I've been pleased with how the guys have traveled so far," said UH coach Bob Nash, who declared the casino off limits to the team.
"(Today) is a business day and we have to go out and try to take care of business."
Tip-off for the Western Athletic Conference game is set for 1 p.m. Hawaii time. The game will air nationally on ESPN2.
Both the Rainbows (10-11) and Wolf Pack (14-8) enter the game at 6-3 in WAC play and are tied for fourth place, a half-game behind New Mexico State.
Today's contest begins a three-game stretch that will determine whether the Rainbows can hang with the conference leaders or continue to linger in the middle of the pack.
The Rainbows practiced at 9 a.m. (7 a.m. Hawaii time) yesterday to get adjusted to today's early schedule.
Another reason behind the morning practice was to give the 'Bows a chance to push through the effects of the altitude with a hard workout while leaving themselves ample recovery time before the game.
"We knew there was going to be altitude and the thing we talked about is, we want you to feel it and if you get into a run-and-shoot game early on with this team then that's what it's going to feel like," Nash said.
"Once you start to get that, your mind goes a little and before you get your second wind that's when errors start to happen. We can't afford to be that way. We have to play at our pace as opposed to playing at their pace, and I think our guys got that message loud and clear once we got up and down a little bit."
The Rainbows face a Nevada team that handed them an 18-point loss in Honolulu on Jan. 12. They've won five of six since and bring a three-game winning streak into today's league encounter.
But Nash said revenge isn't a motivation entering the game.
"So many things have changed since that game," he said. "We've gotten better as a team, they may have gotten better. So we can't be stuck thinking about what happened back in January, we have to move on and think about what we have to do now to be successful, not what happened back then."
UH struggled through its second-worst shooting night of the season in the first meeting, when the 'Bows made 38 percent of their shots from the field. During their current streak, they're shooting 51 percent while averaging 18 assists.
"We're taking what the defense gives us," said senior guard Matt Gibson, who can join UH's 1,000-point club if he reaches his season average of just over 16 points per game today.
"Really, we're just making shots now, where we weren't earlier. Our shooters are more confident and shooting the ball better."
While containing Wolf Pack guard Marcelus Kemp -- who dropped 29 points on UH last month -- will be a priority, handling Nevada's size inside will be among the keys for the Rainbows. Seven-foot Nevada center JaVale McGee is averaging 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds.
The Rainbows are without one of their top big men in senior P.J. Owsley, who didn't make the trip due to a knee injury, leaving Nash with a nine-man rotation.
"We have to be a smarter team," Nash said. "We can't just go out and foul needlessly, because we just don't have the numbers."