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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 24, 2005

UH happy to land in Tulsa

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is down to its last road stand of the regular season.

Given the circumstances, there's no place the Rainbow Warriors would rather be than Tulsa, Okla.

"We've had a lot of good memories here," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "It's a place I'm comfortable with."

The 'Bows will take on Tulsa in a Western Athletic Conference game tomorrow at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.

Hawai'i is trying to play out of the dreaded "play-in" games of the WAC Tournament, which is scheduled for March 8 to 12 at Reno, Nev.

The 'Bows are 14-9 overall and in seventh place in the WAC at 6-8 with four regular-season games remaining. The Golden Hurricane is 7-17 overall and tied for ninth at 3-11.

The bottom four teams in the 10-team WAC have to play an extra game to qualify for the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The top six teams are seeded into the quarterfinals.

"We just have to worry about winning games," Wallace said. "The way the league is right now, anything can happen. If we get on a roll, we can finish as high as third (place)."

Their trip got off to a delayed start on Tuesday when the 'Bows got stuck in the Denver airport for a few extra hours because of a flight change. They departed Honolulu at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, and did not check in to their Tulsa hotel until after midnight.

"A very long day," Wallace said. "But that's one of the reasons we like to leave early. The guys got to sleep in late (yesterday) and we'll still have two days of practice."

The 'Bows practiced last night in the Reynolds Center, and will do so again tonight.

Hawai'i has won four of the last six games against Tulsa in the Reynolds Center, including WAC championship victories in 2001 and 2002.

The Golden Hurricane is moving to Conference USA next season, so tomorrow is the last scheduled game for Hawai'i in Tulsa.

"Of all the teams leaving (the WAC), I'll miss Tulsa more than the others," Wallace said.

Tulsa is 77-26 all-time in the Reynolds Center, and Hawai'i's four wins is the most by any visiting team.

"It's a good arena, a good atmosphere," Wallace said. "And it seems like there's always something on the line when we play them."

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8101.