By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team hosts Big West Conference leader UC Santa Barbara this Friday and Saturday at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM/1420 AM) will bring you both games, with Bobby Curran calling the action. The Rainbow Warriors have won three straight games, but beating the Gauchos (winners of eight straight games) will be a challenge. Here are some things to know about UC Santa Barbara:
♦ The Gauchos are currently 12-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big West. (They also beat conference newcomer UC San Diego twice, but those games do not count in the official league standings.) One hopeful note for Hawaii fans: The Gauchos are “only” 3-2 on the road.
♦ The Gauchos have yet to play in the month of February. Their Feb. 5 and 6 home games against Long Beach State were canceled after a COVID-19 positive test within the LBSU program.
♦ The team is led by 6-4 senior guard JaQuori McLaughlin, who is averaging 16.6 points per game on 52 percent shooting (41.1 percent from beyond the arc). He also averages 5.2 assists. McLaughlin has already been named “Big West Player of the Week” three times this season.
♦ Another key player for UC Santa Barbara is 6-9 junior forward Amadou Sow, who has been a consistent thorn in the side of the Rainbow Warriors. Last season in a Feb. 6 victory over Hawaii, Sow recorded 30 points and 6 rebounds. Sow is currently averaging 11.1 points and 8.4 boards a contest.
♦ Overall, the Gauchos are a prolific team offensively, averaging 78 points per game in the conference (tied for first with Cal State Fullerton). They’re also tops in the Big West in field goal percentage (.492).
♦ Fourth-year head coach Joe Pasternack has guided the Gauchos to three consecutive 20+ win seasons. The only other time this feat was achieved at UC Santa Barbara was from 1987-90. Pasternack got his start in college basketball as a team manager for Bob Knight at Indiana.
♦ The Gauchos have won four of their last five meetings against UH and lead the overall series, 13-10. On the other hand (again, hope!), Hawaii has won four of the last five home meetings with the Gauchos.
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