UH vs. UHH, an annotated history

The first meeting between Hawaii and Hawaii Hilo, on Feb. 23, 1980, was an anticipated affair that sold out the Blaisdell Arena. But Dane Pineau and the Rainbows slam dunked the Vulcans by 24. / Honolulu Advertiser file

We’re approaching mid-December, which can mean only one thing.

It’s time for the Hawaii-Hawaii Hilo grudge match!

In all seriousness, this now-annual series has not been competitive, even as Division I-II crossover games go — the average margin of victory is 25 points for Manoa in the last six meetings. Manoa’s little brother Hilo is here for the sixth straight year, and the two are meeting up for a regular-season game for the seventh time in eight years.

But that doesn’t mean their shared history can’t be interesting. Would you believe that their first official game — on Feb. 23, 1980 — sold out the Blaisdell Arena?

Worth noting is the fact the Vulcans have counted the last handful of games as exhibitions on their end, as D-II teams are allowed to do up to three times a season against their D-I brethren (who officially count the contest, unless it’s a true preseason exhibition like UH’s game against HPU this year).

UH owns the series 10-0 all-time, including one win that Manoa vacated in 2013. That’s the most wins against any Rainbow Warriors opponent without a loss (yep, even including Arkansas-Pine Bluff).

If you plan to attend the 7 p.m. game tonight (Saturday), you should have plenty of room to stretch out. The crowds for this series the last several years have lagged, to say the least.

But hey, the Vulcans could light it up one of these times, and UH could be in for a tussle. It could be interesting down the stretch. You never know.

Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of the 10 official games in the series to date, from most recent to oldest. Note this does not count the many preseason exhibitions UH and UHH have played over the years.

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Dec. 9, 2017: Hawaii 82, Hawaii Hilo 64
Summary: Mike Thomas and Drew Buggs paced a well-rounded effort with 13 points apiece, as Eran Ganot was able to go about 11 deep to help his team overcome a cold-shooting start in front of 2,387. The teams opened shooting 0-for-14 from the field but UH strung together some runs and led by as many as 30 points late.

Nov. 22, 2016: Hawaii 86, Hawaii Hilo 55
Summary: Noah Allen began to come into his own, scoring a then-career high 24 points as he and his Rainbows teammates sank 13 3-pointers in front of 2,078 — with nine triples coming in the first half. Allen, known more as a driver than a shooter, found his rhythm outside, going 6-for-10 from beyond the arc in his 24 minutes. UH assisted on 24 of its 31 baskets.

Dec. 8, 2015: Hawaii 86, Hawaii Hilo 67
Summary: Aaron Valdes scored a season-high 33 points on 15-for-20 shooting, while Isaac Fleming supplied 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds off the bench in front of 2,154. UH owned the interior, 54-18 in paint points, even without a scratched Stefan Jankovic. Stefan Jovanovic stepped in and shot 5-for-5. “Hawaii Five-O” got in on the act; Niko Filipovich, Dyrbe Enos and Zach Buscher contributed to UH’s 40 bench points.

Nov. 19, 2014: Hawaii 89, Hawaii Hilo 71
Summary: Roderick Bobbitt had the second triple-double in UH hoops history — 12 points, 10 assists, 10 steals — as UH stole it 19 times from UHH, one off the team record, in front of 1,966. Bobbitt passed Tony Webster for the UH individual record, and joined Reggie Carter in the triple-double club. Aaron Valdes, the beneficiary of Bobbitt’s passing, stuffed in 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting to lead interim coach Benjy Taylor’s gang.

Nov. 21, 2013: Hawaii 114, Hawaii Hilo 63
Summary: In the first official meeting between the teams at the Stan Sheriff Center, Christian Standhardinger shot 10-for-12 on a series of layups for 22 points and Isaac Fotu chipped in 17 on 7-for-9 as UH rung up its third-largest margin of victory (51) in program history. The crowd was estimated at under 3,000 (coach Gib Arnold refused to allow turnstile count to be given to media.) The lead was only 14 at halftime but UH put up a 66-point second half on GE Coleman’s squad. This game was later vacated by UH due to Arnold-related NCAA sanctions.

Dec. 16, 2011: Hawaii 79, Hawaii Hilo 66
Summary: There was a 21-year gap between official meetings heading into this game. This one is the only one in the series designated an “away” game, as it was played on the Big Island, but it was a neutral-site game in reality, as it was played at Kealakehe High School’s gym. If memory serves, the game was not advertised well. The 331 spectators were split between the teams. Anyway, Jeff Law’s Vulcans led for the whole first half against the sluggish ‘Bows, some of whom had final exams on Oahu earlier that day. Shaquille Stokes (21 points), Vander Joaquim (19 points, 17 rebounds) and Joston Thomas (17 points) eventually picked it up.

Dec. 6, 1990: Hawaii 75, Hawaii Hilo 57
Summary: In front of 2,135 at the Blaisdell Arena, UH got 19 points from Ray Reed and 16 from Chris Walz — the latter of whom shot 6-for-6 — against the Vulcans, then an NAIA team coached by Bob Wilson. UH went inside almost exclusively, as it attempted only one 3-point shot. Coach Riley Wallace looked to rein his team in after it had pushed the pace, unsuccessfully, in its previous two games, both losses. Point guard Troy Bowe adjusted and was effective with 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Nov. 26, 1982: Hawaii 98, Hawaii Hilo 64
Summary: The ‘Bows won the backboards 51-29 in this first-round game of the Hawaii Tip-Off Tournament in front of a listed 3,800. Coach Larry Little and UH advanced to face LSU two days later for the championship at the Blaisdell and beat the Tigers, 68-66. But first, Tony Webster put in 17 points while big men Larry Connors and Greg Hicks scored 14 apiece against Jimmy Yagi’s Vulcans, who were only able to suit up nine.

Nov. 30, 1981: Hawaii 102, Hawaii Hilo 76
Summary: The Rainbows blew open the game with a run-and-gun style second half in front of 2,427 people, excising some frustration after a close loss to Lamar. Rodney Jones led the way with 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Clarence “Pop” Dickerson contributed 16, five and five. UH jumped out from the get-go, as Hilo was held without a field goal for the first six and a half minutes.

Feb. 23, 1980: Hawaii 86, Hawaii Hilo 62
Summary: The first meeting between the teams drew quite well — a Blaisdell sellout crowd of 6,874 was on hand. There was plenty of hype around this game, as no one was sure what would happen when a break-even Division I team like UH (12-12 to that point in 1979-80 season) faced an NAIA powerhouse like Hilo (25-6). But the Rainbows controlled the action from the tip, rolling off 11 straight points for a 15-3 lead, and kept it in double figures from there. Big man Brad Pineau shot 9-for-10 for 19 points and Eric Bowman added 17, setting the tone for the mismatches to come.

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