Coach Eran Ganot, Hawai’i – Opening Statement: “I just can’t tell you how proud I am of this group. This is one of our most complete performances in the last couple of years. Playing on a neutral court against a Pac-12 program like Utah that we have great respect for. I’m really proud of how we came out of the gates in the first half and in the second half. It’s a byproduct of the week that we’ve had, we’ve had a really good week and a great day today and it transferred. It doesn’t always happen that way but it does put you in a position to succeed and it did happen for us today and I’m happy for the team.”
On Brocke Stepteau’s performance: “I can’t tell you how great it feels as a coach to have the backcourt play that we do have. Brocke is in his fifth year in our program and is coming off one of the most efficient seasons in the country. Drew Buggs, even though he’s a sophomore is in his third year in our program. I think that’s reflected in 19 assists and eight turnovers and 25-28 from the free-throw line. Those guys have been in big moments and they give you a look of belief which is the most important thing you can do as a player. It’s great going to bed knowing I have this kind of guard play.”
Guard Brocke Stepteau, Hawai’i – On playing in a familiar place in Titan Gym: “We want to be road warriors this year. People want to make the excuse that we’re so far away from home that when we travel we can’t compete. We feel comfortable here, we play here once a year and so we said that if anybody is comfortable in this gym it should be us. We used that as another motivator to come out and have a good performance.”
On defeating a Pac-12 school: “It’s a big win but we talked about it before the game and didn’t want to come here just to compete, we knew we could win. We felt pretty confident in our gameplan, the guys we have on this team and the coaches. If we stand together, 15 strong, and we have all these guys supporting us that we can come out here and compete. It will help us along this season because we know that if we play like this we have a good chance to beat anybody. We just have to come with that same focus we had tonight against everybody.”
Coach Larry Krystkowiak, Utah – (On how his team responded to being down in the game): “Well certainly, when you get punched and you’re laying on the tarmac with your hands and feet in the air, it certainly feels better to watch our guys compete and free up their minds and get back into the ballgame. We’ve got some guys that play hard that are out on the court and we switched a lot of the pick-and-roll and kept things kind of simple. Some of this education is for the coaches too, it’s for myself to see what we’re made of and guys stepping up. It was a little bit enlightening in some of those categories for our development.”
(On Hawai’i’s defense in the first half): “It was really good pick-and-roll. They blitzed us hard on all the pick-and-roll coverage and some of the stuff we worked on this week. We didn’t really execute they were well prepared for most of our playcalls and they just played hard. They played like the underdog that they were and played with an edge and momentum.”
(On what he can take away from the game): “Well it’s not all just about effort, we’ve got three big banners in our practice facility. One of the says “Play Hard”, another says “Play Smart” and another one says “Play Together”. If you can check two of those in terms of winning that battle against the other team in games, you’ll win most of them. We got outplayed in terms of heart until the game was over and we fought back. But, the intelligent part was very much lacking and we’ve got some issues amongst our team dynamics.”
- Attendance for today was announced at 2,132 tickets distributed.
- With Hawai’i winning this marks the third time in 12 Woodens/Anaheim classic that the Big West won a game in the first round… Long Beach State defeated Western Michigan 73-55 in 2014 and Pacific (then in the BW) defeated Xavier 70-67 in 2012.
- Hawai’i won the game despite not making a single FG in the last 6:14, but they did make their last 13 FTs over the final 1:08 of the game… Utah meanwhile made just 13 of its first 39 shots, then made 13 of its last 20 field goals attempted.
- Utah now leads the all-time series 49-11, with the 60 meetings the most time Hawai’i has played any team.
- Hawai’i is playing in its 10th ESPN event (15-13 record in those).
- Hawai’i has now scored 90+ points in consecutive games after reaching that mark just once in the last two seasons combined… the last time the Warriors had back to back games with 90+ points was in March 2015.
- Under Coach Ganot, Hawai’i has now improved to 18-1 when making more than half its shots (.528 tonight).
- Brocke Stepteau set his career high with 24 points… His 12 FTM were the most by a Warrior away from home since Christian Stanhardinger sank 16 at Chaminade on 12/14/13.
- Zigmars Raimo was the team’s leading scorer entering today (13.8 ppg), but was held scoreless in 19 minutes of action.
- Utah is playing in its fourth ESPN event (4-6 record in those).
- The Utah bench had 49 points tonight, just one point shy of the 50 the Ute reserves had in their last game.
- Donnie Tillman scored 16 points, the second most he has ever scored in a game (which also came against Hawai’i in last year’s meeting).
- Freshman Riley Battin began his collegiate career with a total of 17 points in his first three games, then had 16 in tonight’s contest.
- Sedrick Barefield entered the game tied for the team’s highest scoring average (12.0 ppg), but was limited to just four points in 22 minutes…This marks his second straight game with four points, after scoring at least 14 in six consecutive games.