No Mamadou, no problem?
UC Irvine (8-9, 1-0 Big West) is still a formidable opponent in the BWC ranks. Hawaii (6-8, 0-1) is up for a challenge tonight at the Bren Events Center as the Rainbow Warriors seek their first road and league win of the season.
Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. HST and will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. With a cable subscription, you can watch it streaming here.
UH has started off Big West Conference play 0-2 only once — in 2013-14, when the ‘Bows rebounded to go 9-7 in league play. Of course, all UH victories that season were retroactively vacated by the NCAA.
Irvine, which beat Long Beach State by 15 on Wednesday, is favored by 9.5 points. BWC first-teamer Luke Nelson is back from a hamstring injury and Jaron Martin, a former bench player, is his new backcourt mate as the new Alex Young.
UCI center Ioannis Dimakopoulos may not be the rim-protecting presence Mamadou Ndiaye was, but he is still very large — 7 feet 2 — and is very capable of burning teams from beyond the arc, where he shoots 50 percent.
Will this be the game Noah Allen busts out of his funk? The senior has missed his last 16 field-goal attempts, so perhaps he’s due.
Leland Green in particular has been assertive of late, making up for some — but certainly not all — of what the team is missing with Allen struggling. Green is coming off a season-high 12-point effort in Thursday’s 67-64 loss at Cal State Fullerton.
UCI is the best defensive team in the league. Hawaii’s had some well-chronicled struggles scoring the ball. On paper, it’s not a recipe for success. But you never know — UH has stunned the ‘Eaters on their home court twice, in 2013 and 2016.