Sports Rainbows have plenty on the line By Brian McInnis Feb. 23, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. This high-pressure matchup goes beyond mere standings and scenarios. Beat New Mexico State in hostile territory, and the Rainbow Warriors have a legitimate shot at the No. 2 seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament in two weeks. Fall to the Aggies today at the Pan American Center, and UH can pretty much kiss an elite seeding goodbye. Granted, UH (15-11, 6-4 WAC) has never beaten the Aggies (20-8, 7-3) in Las Cruces, N.M., in six WAC tries. Today marks the ‘Bows’ last chance to do so before leaving for the Big West Conference this summer. RAINBOWS BASKETBALL In Las Cruces, N.M. » Who: Hawaii (15-11, 6-4 WAC) vs. New Mexico State (20-8, 7-3) » When: 4 p.m. today » TV: OC Sports (Ch. 12) » Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM » Series: New Mexico State leads 12-4 However, UH proved it could hang with the up-and-down Aggies in the islands in a highly entertaining — if somewhat unnerving — contest almost exactly a month ago. In the 91-87 win over NMSU, the ‘Bows rode 29 points from Zane Johnson to a comfortable 19-point second-half lead, only to see the Aggies storm back in the final few minutes behind a withering full-court press. The Stan Sheriff Center crowd was in a near panic, but could finally relax when the Aggies ran out of time. Other teams salivated at the chance to press UH in the games following the Jan. 21 contest. For the most part, though, the ‘Bows handled the looks well after addressing the breakdowns of dribbling and passing under fire. "They may press us, and we’re going to be OK. We’re going to be just fine," UH coach Gib Arnold said on the phone from El Paso, Texas, where the team prepared this week, coming off a 94-79 loss at Montana. "(Against NMSU) was the only time the press has bothered us. A 40-minute game, we beat them 37 minutes and they beat us 3. That’s why we got the W. "We’ve worked on press, guys are confident against the press. I think we probably will see some of that press, but it’s our job to beat it and our job to attack it, not just beat it. Try to score on it." The teams meet again as the top two in the WAC in scoring with NMSU at 77.5 points per game and UH at 74.6. The Aggies, behind a towering front line, also lead in boards at 39.6 to UH’s 38.2. But last time it almost came down to whether UH could hold on against the fervent press from several of NMSU’s lengthy athletes, and it just might again. NMSU coach Marvin Menzies, a friend of Arnold’s, acknowledged that the strategy could come into play once more. "You always want to follow success, and obviously we did a good job with the pressure," Menzies said. "Every game is mutually exclusive of the others, so we’ll have that in our arsenal for sure. How much we play it will really depend on its level of success." UH managed a level of success in keeping the WAC’s overall top scorer (18.3 ppg) and rebounder (10.4), NMSU senior forward Wendell McKines, in check in Honolulu in by employing box-and-1 and triangle-and-2 defenses. Conversely, Johnson scored a season high on the Aggies in that game, and a similar effort will be needed by the senior captain (14.4 ppg) if UH is to contend in this one. However, he’s struggled with his shot lately and hasn’t reached double figures over the past four games. "Zane’s a shooter, shooters have good games and bad games," Menzies said. "We’re anticipating that he’s going to play as well as he did last game. We got to do a better job of challenging his shots and giving him less looks than we did last time. He’s definitely a focal point, as well as Vander (Joaquim, 14.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and (Joston) Thomas (14.0 ppg) as well." The point guard matchup between seniors Miah Ostrowski (6.6 assists per game) and NMSU’s Hernst Laroche (3.6 apg) could be another entertaining battle. Freshman reserve Shaquille Stokes and sophomore Bobby Miles will also likely see action against pressure. Previous Story Lin, Knicks rout Hawks 99-82, head to Miami Next Story Jeremy Lin wants to own the term 'Linsanity'