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Updated: Wednesday, November 27, 2002 11:49 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(1) Arizona 101, Northrn Arizona 66
NORTHERN ARIZONA LUMBERJACKS
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
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ARIZONA WILDCATS
Arizona Wildcats
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TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- After a shaky first half, Arizona again looked like the best team in the nation.

Jason Gardner scored 24 points and freshman Hassan Adams added 21 as the top-ranked Wildcats blew open a close game in the second half en route to a 101-66 victory over Northern Arizona.

Leading just 44-39 at halftime, Arizona scored the first 13 points of the second half to take control. Adams had six points in the run, including a layup that capped the burst 3:33 into the half.

"We got on each other at halftime and said, 'We're No. 1 and we need to play like it.' We had to play to our level," Adams said.

"The first five minutes of the second half is when you can take a team's heart out of the game, and we did that," Gardner added.

After committing 12 turnovers in the first half, the Wildcats settled down and gave the ball up only three times in the second. They also came out of the locker room with a stifling pressure defense that overwhelmed the Lumberjacks.

"We told the guys at halftime that the first five minutes of the second half, they'll come out and press, and you have to be ready for it. They did and turned it into a rout," Northern Arizona coach Mike Adras said.

The Wildcats played most of the way without starting forward Luke Walton, who turned his right ankle early in the first half and did not return. Coach Lute Olsen said he expects Walton to return next week.

Will Bynum drained six 3-pointers for 18 points and Gardner, the Preseason Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year, added five rebounds and five assists as the Wildcats (2-0) won their 19th in a row over the Lumberjacks.

Arizona, which blew out Western Kentucky in its opener on Saturday, has won its two games this season by a combined margin 74 points.

Northern Arizona (1-2) fell to 0-15 all-time against ranked foes.

Kelly Golob scored 14 points, while Ryan McDade and Aaron Bond netted 12 points apiece for the Lumberjacks, who hit 53 percent (17-of-32) of their shots in the first half but were held to just 37.5 percent (12-of-32) and 27 points in the second.

"This game was a lot different than what we're used to in the Big Sky Conference," McDade said. "We knew they were athletic, but it's hard to know how quick they are and how long their arms are.

"We couldn't get past halfcourt in the second half," McDade continued.

By contrast, Arizona started slowly. The Wildcats hit 44 percent (15-of-34) of their shots in the first half, but came on to sink 56 percent (23-of-41) from the floor over the final 20 minutes.

The Wildcats forced 26 turovers as Gardner, Adams and Chris Rodgers each had three steals.

"We don't have a better team on our schedule than that," Adras said. "I'm a big U of A fan. I cheer for our in-state brethren all the time. I root for them. Just not tonight."


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