Key statistics: A good night from the foul line helped the Shockers survive other shortcomings. WSU made a season-high 28 of 36 free throws (a season-best 77.8 percent). In a gym where teams fear Island referees, WSU outscored the home team by 11 points from the line.
Records: WSU 10-1, UH 9-4
How the game turned: WSU trailed 49-42 with 15:08 remaining and Hawaii had the ball. The Rainbow Warriors committed four turnovers, most against WSU’s press, and the Shockers took a 51-49 lead with 12:27 to play. The game turned again when the Shockers blew a seven-point lead, setting the stage for overtime.
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: The Shockers outscored Hawaii 17-6 on second-chance points.
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Stat that might surprise you: WSU guard Ron Baker missed nine of 11 three-pointers and is 4 for 16 in the Diamond Head Classic.
Next up: vs. George Washington, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Diamond Head Classic (ESPN2)
▪ The Shockers lose to Hawaii if they don’t get their turnovers fixed after a miserable first half. WSU turned the ball over 11 times, giving Hawaii eight points and keeping the game close. After two turnovers in the first 2:30 of the second half, WSU didn’t give the ball away again.
Hawaii is quick and aggressive — ratty, in Gregg Marshall’s terms — and it took the Shockers a half to adjust to the quickness and the schemes. Hawaii’s aggressiveness also led to foul trouble. And on many nights, Baker and Tekele Cotton make a few more of those open three-pointers given up by gambling, scrambling defenders.
“We got into them pretty good at the under four-minute timeout (in the second half) for the turnovers,” Marshall said. “We had talked about that being a key, because they’re very handsy.”
The Warriors play four guards and they want a helter-skelter game that plays to their quickness. The Shockers gave away some soft turnovers in the first half, and some where they went too fast, before they calmed down.
“We were just learning from playing the game,” Baker said. “We knew Hawaii was going to be scoring a lot of baskets off turnovers, as we saw against Nebraska. We needed to take care of the ball and we did a better job of that.”
▪ Marshall called WSU’s press in the second half a plus, although the Warriors did attack it effectively at times. With so many ball-handlers, they can make plays when they handle the ball.
“There were a couple times where they beat it and dunked it in our basket,” he said. “We were selling out there, we’re aggressive, we’re full-court press. It’s a give and take.”
▪ WSU’s starting backcourt combined to shoot 4 of 19 from three-point range. Darius Carter scored 10 points in 27 minutes, limited action because of fouls. So the Shockers won, despite lower-than-expected production from it four top scorers. That fits the definition of grinding out a win.
“We’ve got to shoot the ball better,” Marshall said. “I think the shots were good. They’re shots they’ve been making their whole career.”
▪ Hawaii entered the game shooting 29.5 percent from three-point range. It made 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) on Tuesday. That is what happens on road games. Hawaii’s multi-guard lineup is difficult to defend. The Warriors don’t do much post play; it’s all driving, drawing fouls, three-pointers and fast breaks.
“When you’ve got guards penetrating the gaps like they do and guards on the outside that can shoot, it’s a pretty good combination,” Baker said.
▪ Marshall took the opportunity to lobby Hawaii’s administration to hire coach Benjy Taylor permanently. He is the acting head coach after taking over for fired Gib Arnold in October.
“They’re passionate, and it starts with him,” Marshall said. “He’s got a wonderful rapport with his team. They reflect the energy that he exudes. They beat Nebraska. They beat Pitt. They easily could have beaten us. What is going to take for him to get the job? I know good basketball. That team could win a game in the NCAA Tournament or two. I hope they give him a real long, hard look.”
▪ According to kenpom.com, WSU had about a 26-percent win probability when it trailed 77-75 with 54 seconds to play in overtime and slighty less than that when it trailed 79-78 with 18 seconds to play. Against Alabama, it dipped under 10 percent when WSU trailed 51-40 late in the second half.
▪ Arizona went on the road and lost to UNLV 71-67 on Tuesday. UNLV’s RPI jumped from No. 110 to No. 82 to No. 36 in the past three weeks. Hawaii’s RPI is No. 157. Ken Pomeroy’s ranking has them a little more equal — UNLV No. 118 and Hawaii No. 162. It is hard to win on the road and the Shockers picked up another decent road win, despite poor shooting and foul trouble that limited Carter’s stamp on the game.
WSU has played three road games, equaling VCU, Virginia, Wisconsin and Northern Iowa as the most for the top-10 RPI teams. Of that group, WSU and UNI have played the fewest home games (five).
▪ George Washington is No. 29 in the RPI, largely because its three losses are at Virginia, Seton Hall and Penn State, all top-40 RPI teams. The Colonials played a lot of 1-3-1 zone against Colorado, although coach Mike Lonergan called that a bit out of character.
The Colonials rebound hard, limit teams to 39.4 percent shooting and rarely foul. The same five players started all 11 games and six play 20 minutes or more. No other player averages more than 10 minutes a game.