Streaking Spartans welcome rematch with Rainbows


POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hawaii and San Jose State have moved in opposite directions in the last 11 days.

That's how long it's been since the Rainbow Warriors bested the Spartans on two Hiram Thompson free throws with 2.1 seconds left for a 68-67 victory in Manoa, and moved into a tie with SJSU at 2-3 in the Western Athletic Conference standings.

Both teams had the misfortune of hosting the top two teams in the league, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, in back-to-back games since that time.

Where UH (9-11, 2-5) missed out on precious chances to climb in the standings with narrow losses to the Bulldogs and Aggies last week, SJSU (11-8, 4-3) used the same opportunity to make some noise with victories over both. The Spartans got a career-high 39 points from junior guard Adrian Oliver to snap a 10-game LaTech winning streak in dealing the Bulldogs their first WAC loss. NMSU fell to SJSU in a high-scoring affair two days later.




HAWAII (9-11, 2-5) AT SAN JOSE STATE (11-8, 4-3)

        When: Today, 5 p.m.

Where: The Event Center


TV: None


Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM




Thus, the Rainbows hunt for their first road win of the season—they're 0-3 in away games—against a Spartans team riding some serious momentum at 5 p.m. today in the 5,000-seat Event Center at San Jose, Calif.

UH arrived in San Jose on Tuesday, but wasn't able to get in a scheduled practice that night because of some in-flight delays on the team's swing from Honolulu to Los Angeles to San Jose. UH coach Bob Nash elected to go to films and consolidate the energy for yesterday's practice in preparation for the hot Spartans.

“;They obviously got to have a huge confidence boost beating two of the top teams in our league with LaTech and New Mexico (State), beating the undefeated team in our conference in LaTech,”; Nash said. “;But we're going in there with confidence. We've had success against them. They have some great players, but we think our guys are pretty good too.”;

If Hawaii is to pick up a road victory this season, it might have to be now. SJSU is the only team in the WAC which UH has shown it can win consistently over on the road, having won five of the last six in San Jose. The remaining road stops for the Rainbows this season are on Saturday at Nevada in an ESPN2-televised game, at LaTech and NMSU next month, and at Idaho and Boise State in March.

The Rainbows won't be without support. Two of the five UH starters, point guard Hiram Thompson and forward Brandon Adams, have friends and family within driving distance of the Bay Area.

“;It's always good to play in front of family and friends who I kind of haven't seen in a while,”; said Thompson, of El Dorado Hills, a couple of hours away. “;It'll be good to see familiar faces.”;

Adams, projected to start his fifth straight game, could put on a show for his fans. The senior has played increasingly well over the last couple of weeks, capped off with his best night of 20 points and nine rebounds in the 65-60 loss to LaTech.

“;We need to come out harder, to not let that game become really close like we did down here,”; Adams said. “;So we just have to come out hard, never let up, and just believe.”;

Oliver had the game-winning free throws with 3.8 seconds left in the Spartans' home win over UH last season. Ironically, the 88 percent foul shooter missed some key free throws late vs. UH in Honolulu on Jan. 17, but came back to make all 12 against Tech. The WAC's top scorer at 21.9 points per game was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

“;(Last week) Coach (George Nessman) said we had an opportunity that most people don't have to play the two top teams in the league,”; Oliver said in an SJSU release. “;We could go to the bottom of the league or the top. Personally, in big games, I try to step up big. I stepped up and a lot of my teammates stepped up.”;

A UH season sweep of the Spartans would help immensely in staving off Idaho (1-6) and Boise State (1-7) at the bottom of the WAC standings. The last-place team after 16 league games is left home from the WAC tournament in Reno, Nev.