Merry Christmas everybody!
The Rainbow Warriors will try to make their own Christmas a jolly one for the third straight year in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic third-place game against Auburn. Tipoff is at 1:30 p.m. with the game televised on ESPN2.
Overall, their record for Christmas games in the DHC is 4-2. Last year, you might remember, was an exciting 69-66 win over Colorado, punctuated by the big block by Garrett Nevels on Askia Booker.
This has the potential to be a very helter-skelter, up-and-down kind of game. That’s the way Bruce Pearl’s teams typically play and UH still has a way of injecting chaos to the open court.
After UH’s game, No. 3 Oklahoma (10-0) and surprising Harvard (5-6) square off for the title.
Pearl said he came away impressed watching UH over the first two days of the tournament, particularly the 84-81 loss to No. 3 Oklahoma on Wednesday.
“I think (Eran) Ganot does a tremendous job,” Pearl said. “They are, offensively … I love the stuff they run. And I think it really takes great advantage of their personnel. You know, defensively they get after you. They create offense from their defense. The guards put a lot of pressure on you, they’re very handsy. And I think there’s a reason why they’re off to the best start in school history. There’s a reason why they could very easily be undefeated. They’re a talented, experienced team that plays with a lot of passion, intensity, emotion.”
Auburn is a little thin in the perimeter with T.J. Dunans going down with a knee injury in the semifinal loss to Harvard. Kareem Canty is still more than capable of filling it up, even after going 1-for-15 vs. the Crimson.
Keep your eye on UH redshirt Jack Purchase on the bench. The transfer from Auburn is going to try to call out from the bench some of the Tigers’ plays he recognizes.