After his career-best night against North Dakota, forward Mike Thomas had some final thoughts on how his team can go 3-0 in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic by beating Troy tonight.
“We gotta defend for a full 40 and not put guys on the line,” said Thomas, who went for 29 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 12-for-16 against the Fighting hHawks. “We’re still committing little silly fouls, hand fouls. They’re calling it pretty tight. To start the year, they do every single year. … We just gotta play our game. We’re a really good team.”
Then, he added, “We owe Troy.”
When UH faced Troy — the Sun Belt team of the namesake town in Pike County, Alabama — last year, it played out in somewhat similar fashion to UH’s game Sunday night against North Dakota, won 81-78 by UH (2-0) after the Rainbow Warriors led by as many as 22 in the first half.
Troy jumped out to a 16-0 lead, led 33-24 at the break and held on for a 65-63 win after UH had a chance to win it in the final seconds. However, Noah Allen was unable to convert.
The Trojans’ main two threats from that game, forward Jordon Varnado and guard Wesley Person, remain the same. They’ve averaged a combined 38.5 points through the first two games this year. They each put in 14 against UH last year. Jack Purchase scored 21 in that one.
As it might be every night this season, UH’s rotation could be different. Against UND, Sheriff Drammeh returned from an illness absence and freshman Samuta Avea didn’t get into the game after playing 12 minutes and looking promising in the opener.
Troy (1-1) fell in narrow fashion to UND, 83-80, on Friday and blew out Arkansas-Pine Bluff by 24 on Sunday. UH needs to win to secure the outright tourney title; if Troy beats UH, it goes to a three-way tiebreaker between Troy, UH and UND, with the winner being the team that allowed the fewest points in the tournament. Troy has the edge there, having allowed just 57 points to Pine Bluff.
UND beat UAPB 80-71 in the first game today.