BYU passed its first WAC basketball test Thursday, so now it moves up a grade.
Getting by San Diego State was one thing; beating Hawaii in Honolulu is another proposition.Hawaii may have been picked to finish seventh in the WAC, but the Rainbows weren't thought very highly of last year and still challenged for the league title and reached the WAC tourney championship game.
Besides, Hawaii has beaten BYU two years in a row in Hawaii and four of the last five times they have met. This season Hawaii is 8-4 and had won five straight - including a two-point victory over Pittsburgh - before the loss to Utah.
And if ever the Rainbows had cause to be motivated for a game this early in the season, this is it. They are coming off a three-point overtime loss to Utah, and another WAC defeat at home would snuff any hopes they might have of being a league contender.
Where the Cougars are likely to be challenged is on the perimeter. The Rainbows' outside-shooting threats are 6-foot-6 Ray Reed, 6-4 Phil Lott and 5-10 point guard Troy Bowe. Reed, a transfer from Seminole (Okla.) JC, is averaging 24.2 points per game and shooting 42 percent from the three-point line. Lott averages 17.1 and has connected on 55 percent of his three-pointers. Lott is a 47 percent three-point shooter.
Where BYU should have an edge is on the boards. Hawaii has held its own on the boards this season, but the starting center is 6-8 sophomore Chris Walz, who will give away 10 inches to BYU's Shawn Bradley.
The starting lineup for BYU is anybody's guess, and probably doesn't matter that much as long as it includes Bradley. It wouldn't be a major surprise if Coach Roger Reid started freshman Jeff Campbell over Kenneth Roberts, who has started every game this season. Campbell played impressively against SDSU.
Another position to watch is point guard, where Mark Santiago is beginning to pressure starter Nathan Call for playing time. Interestingly enough, BYU's best guard combination against the Aztecs was Call and Santiago together.
Today's game will not be televised live, as earlier planned. It starts at 10:30 p.m. MST.