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No. 1 Wildcats Roll Past Northern Arizona, 77-44
Courtesy: Associated Press
Release: 12/23/2013
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Nick Johnson scored 20 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 14 and top-ranked Arizona rolled over Northern Arizona 77-44 on Monday night to complete its second straight undefeated non-conference season.

Arizona (13-0) played its second straight game without injured center Kaleb Tarczewski, but didn't really need him, grabbing control with a 27-4 first-half run.

The Wildcats dominated the small-program Lumberjacks defensively, holding them to 36 percent shooting while scoring 18 points off 23 turnovers. Arizona has won 27 straight non-conference games.

Brandon Ashley had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats, who don't play again until their Pac-12 opener against Washington State on Jan. 2.

Aaseem Dixon had nine points for Northern Arizona (3-8).

Northern Arizona is plenty familiar with trip south, playing in Tucson every season but one since 2002.

It hasn't gone too well for the Lumberjacks. Other than a five-point game in 2010, Arizona has beaten Northern Arizona in routs, including a 93-50 runaway last season.

The Lumberjacks faced an even bigger hill this time around.

Northern Arizona had a huge setback just before the season started, when sophomore guard Dwayne Russell, the team's top returning scorer, decided to transfer.

The Lumberjacks managed to play close games against Southern California and Fresno State, but those teams are nothing like what they were up against at the McKale Center.

Arizona had rolled through its non-conference schedule to this point, knocking off teams like Duke and Michigan to move atop The Associated Press poll two weeks ago. The Wildcats are long, athletic, versatile and one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Northern Arizona held its own early while Arizona struggled on offense, playing to an 11-all tie with the Wildcats in the opening 8 minutes.

Arizona turned into a rout after that, scoring 17 straight points during its big run to go up 38-15.

Johnson keyed it, hitting consecutive 3-pointers at the start and adding another to put the Wildcats up 15. The junior guard had 14 points by halftime to help Arizona to a 41-17 lead.

The Lumberjacks managed to hit a few shots early to hang with Arizona before succumbing to the Wildcats' relentless pressure.

Northern Arizona had two field goals over the final 10 minutes and shot 7 of 19 from the floor. Worse for the Lumberjacks, they had no assists in the half and 12 turnovers that led to 18 points for Arizona.

Arizona filled the second half with dunks, layups and a few more 3-pointers to keep NAU from mounting any kind of run.

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