Illinois (2-0) at Hawaii (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 16, 12:30 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: OC Sports. Home Record: Illinois 2-0, Hawaii 3-0. Away Record: Illinois 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Neutral Record: Illinois 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Conference Record: Illinois 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Series Record: Illinois leads, 6-0.
GAME NOTES: In advance of their appearance in the 29th annual Maui Invitational, the Illinois Fighting Illini make a stop in Honolulu where they will take on the Hawaii Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Illinois, which is under first-year head coach John Groce, is off to a 2-0 start after taking care of Colgate in the season opener, 75-55, at home as part of the regional action of the Maui Invitational, and then on Monday the Illini topped St. Francis by a more lopsided final of 89-64.
The Illini have won five straight non-conference road games, a streak that stretches all the way back to 2008's 69-63 triumph over Vanderbilt. The team has just one other true road game against a foe outside of the Big Ten Conference coming up next month against powerhouse Gonzaga.
For the Warriors, they are off to a 3-0 start for the second time in three seasons under head coach Gib Arnold. The team has kicked off 2012-13 with three wins by at least double digits, the first time that's happened since 2001-02 when the program went on to post a school-record 27 victories and earn an invite to the NCAA Tournament.
In a span of four days Hawaii topped Maryland-Eastern Shore (76-64), Arkansas- Pine Bluff (81-54) and Houston Baptist (73-60), the latter taking place on Monday.
The Warriors have never beaten Illinois, coming up empty in all six previous meetings. The Illini have won a total of four games in Honolulu, including a narrow 79-77 final back in 2007. Hawaii has a record of just 10-17 against opponents from the Big Ten Conference.
Against St. Francis, the Illini opened with 7-of-15 shooting from behind the three-point line in the first and finished 11-of-25 beyond the stripe in the comfortable victory. The squad also made good on 49.2 percent from the floor overall which helped to compensate for a lackluster 14-of-22 showing at the free-throw line. Four starters scored in double figures, beginning with Tyler Griffey who tallied 17 points, followed by Tracy Abrams with 15, Brandon Paul 14 points and Nnanna Egwu with 10. The team has scored 82.0 ppg over the first two outings, but the group has not been all that great at the charity stripe (.563) and that should be a concern for coach Groce. The unit is led by Paul with his 17.0 ppg and is he also tied for the lead with 5.5 rpg as they've spread the wealth in that department in order to top the competition by 10 boards per contest.
Less than eight minutes in against Houston Baptist, the Warriors had a double- digit lead and were able to keep up the pressure the rest of the way as they registered the 13-point victory at home. Vander Joaquim registered a double- double for the hosts with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Christian Standhardinger followed suit with 14 points and a game-high 11 boards as well. Brandon Spearman tacked on 15 points and Hauns Brereton 11 points, while Jace Tavita was held scoreless but still had input with his game-high eight assists. The Warriors had an awful time shooting the ball from three-point range (2-of-13) and turned it over 17 times, but at least they outscored the Huskies at the free-throw line, 17-7. In his first three games with the program, Standhardinger has been huge with averages of 17.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per outing, while Joaquim has delivered 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per outing while shooting 62.1 percent from the floor.
Obviously Standhardinger has pumped some new blood into the Warriors already, but his ability to defend top-quality foes like Illinois will be put to the test in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 77, Hawaii 72
11/16 10:32:00 ET