Slow starters, slow finishers and a late tipoff.

Tonight's WAC encounter between BYU and Hawaii (KSL, Ch. 5, 10 p.m.) has it all. And more important, at least for the Cougars and Rainbow Warriors, a win is on the line.BYU (6-8 overall, 1-1 in WAC play) and Hawaii (3-11, 0-2) are in dire need of success as each tries to combat season-long struggles with putting together complete games.

The Rainbow Warriors have squandered five halftime leads and failed to overcome deficits of eight points or less eight times after being outscored by an average of 9.8 in the final 20 minutes. Though frustrated by the collapses, Hawaii coach Riley Wallace isn't quite sure what to do about it.

"We just have to keep working to keep them from having that breakdown in the second half," he said.

BYU's woes, meanwhile, have come in the first half of road games. The Cougars, who are 1-6 away from the Marriott Center this season, have trailed by double figures before halftime in five of the setbacks.

BYU coach Steve Cleveland said Thursday's 83-76 win at San Diego State Thursday gave his team much-needed confidence and energy for its trip to the islands. The Cougars topped the Aztecs by scoring on 13 of their final 14 possessions -- executing both inside and outside.

"Hawaii has some big-time frontline players. (Mike) Robinson, (Marquette) Alexander, and (Erin) Galloway are tough," said Cleveland, whose squad may encounter a hostile environment -- fueled by the impending Western Athletic Conference split -- at the 10,300-seat Stan Sheriff Center. "Nobody has a homecourt advantage like Hawaii. A lot of good teams have gone to Hawaii and come away with a loss."

In the past, perhaps -- but not this season.

Of 12 visitors, only Nicholls State, Wichita State and Southwestern Louisiana have left Hawaii unsuccessful. The victors, which include BYU opponents California, Auburn and Cal State Northridge -- as well as Oklahoma State, Georgia State, Eastern Illinois, St. Bonaventure, UNC Charlotte and Texas -- have defeated the Rainbow Warriors by an average of 11.4 points.

GAME NOTES: BYU leads the all-time series 29-14, but the teams are 10-10 in Honolulu. . . . In addition to television coverage, the game will also be broadcast on KSL Radio (1160 AM). . . . The Cougars continue WAC play next week in Provo against San Jose State (Thursday) and Fresno State (Saturday).