By Brian McInnis
Hawaii's history against the Runnin' Utes has been, shall we say, less than stellar. Last night's 68-55 effort was only the Rainbow Warriors' tenth all-time victory over its former WAC rival in 57 meetings.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Back when the schools used to meet on a yearly basis, Utah made a tradition of regular beatdowns of UH, especially in Salt Lake City. Of course, as the record will attest, they did so in Honolulu, too, with nine straight overall wins in the series coming into last night (although the last meeting was in 1999). Utah has beaten UH more times than any other school, and the teams aren't likely to meet again very often with the Utes on their way to the Pac-12 and UH going to the Big West.
So UH fans, enjoy that win, especially because of the way it happened with Hiram Thompson making an inspiring return to the court, shrugging off his still-obvious back problems to lead the team. He didn't run out of the tunnel to make his entrance, but if anyone wants to make any Willis Reed-esque comparisons, you go right ahead.
The latest on the brawl between Mississippi State players Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey in the Stan Sheriff Center stands is that both have been indefinitely suspended and sent packing from the islands.
Thus, the Bulldogs (8-4) will be without those two key big men against the Rainbows (8-3) tomorrow on Christmas in the Diamond Head Classic fifth-place game. It will be interesting to see whether MSU, which has faced so much strife already this season, can rally around its remaining players, or gets ripped apart like so much wrapping paper.
There is no television for this game. (ESPN covers 10 of the 12 games in the tournament, with the only ones they don't televise being the seventh- and fifth-place games.)
Though I was at the arena at the time of the fight, I did not witness it, as I was just coming back from the media room. An agitated Sidney was being escorted past me just as I came out of the tunnel, and everyone in the stands was standing and looking at the spot a few rows up behind press row where the fight occurred.
If you're one of the few who still hasn't seen the shocking fistfight, go to this ESPN video for an extended clip of the fight. It was longer than it appeared from the initial clips during the UH-Utah game last night.
The MSU beat writer at the Clarion-Ledger, Brandon Marcello, offers some insights there.
Hope everyone has happy holidays. Enjoy the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, those of you going.