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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 14, 2008

Resting Gibson would be like pulling teeth

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Matt Gibson

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WHO: Hawai'i (10-12 overall, 6-4 WAC) vs. Utah State (18-7, 8-2)

WHEN: Saturday, 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center

TICKETS: $26 lower level, $22 upper level adults, $16 upper level senior citizens, $5 upper level students, $3 upper level UH students, $5 Super Rooters. Parking is $3.

TV/RADIO: Live on KFVE (Ch. 5) and ESPN 1420 AM

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Matt Gibson would rather have root canal surgery than lose another game.

He knows how much both can hurt.

Gibson, the leading scorer for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team, has undergone five dental procedures in the last two weeks, including a root canal surgery yesterday.

"I don't know what's going on," he said. "Every time they fix one, another one starts hurting. I hope this is the last one because I can't even sleep at night. It feels like my mouth is on fire."

Gibson said he underwent two surgeries in three days last week, but still played with pain on the left side of his mouth during Hawai'i's 88-68 loss at Nevada last Saturday.

"I even skipped the pre-game (meal)," he said. "But it didn't hurt as much as the loss did."

He said yesterday's surgery should not affect him for Saturday's showdown against first-place Utah State.

"You know me, I'm going to play no matter what," he said.

Hawai'i, which is 10-12 overall and 6-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, will host the Aggies at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the Stan Sheriff Center.

Utah State, which beat Hawai'i 86-80 last month in Logan, Utah, is 18-7 and 8-2.

The 'Bows will need Gibson to be at his best if they want to climb higher than their current fifth-place spot in the WAC.

Since the WAC season started in January, Gibson is averaging 19.0 points and 5.9 assists per game. He had 25 points and eight assists in the loss at Utah State on Jan. 3.

"I thought we played well at their place, but we still came out with the loss," Gibson said. "Now they have to come to our place and I like to think that we should be the favorite against any team here."

Both the 'Bows and Aggies are coming off losses in Reno, Nev. Utah State lost at Nevada, 85-80, on Monday.

The Aggies returned to Logan after Monday's game, and will not arrive in Honolulu until tomorrow afternoon.

"We're going to see the same Utah State team we saw the last time, except they tweaked a few things," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "They just have a good system, and they have arguably the best player in the conference, and they have a good supporting cast around him. It'll be a tough game."

Utah State senior guard Jaycee Carroll leads the WAC in scoring with 21.8 points per game.

The 'Bows should have senior forward/center P.J. Owsley available on Saturday, although his minutes could be limited.

Owsley missed the last two games with an injured right knee. He returned to practice on a limited basis on Tuesday.

"It's probably 75 percent," he said. "Every day it gets better, so I think I should be ready to go (Saturday). I'm not going to play 40 minutes anyway, so I should be able to handle a few minutes at a time."

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.