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NAU Recap
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/13/2007
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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _No. 17 Arizona is looking for more physical inside and more toughness, as well as their Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olsonˇ?s return as the Wildcats hung on to defeat Northern Arizona 76-69 on Tuesday.

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Olson, who has been on a personal leave of absence since Nov. 4, was replaced by assistant Kevin O'Neill.

Olson had missed only seven previous games during his 25-years as Wildcats coach. Six came surrounding the death of his first wife Bobbi during the 2000-01 season and one was against LaSalle due to a back injury in 1994. Arizona is 5-3 without him.

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With O'Neill in charge, Arizona started two freshmen and a pair of sophomores, who struggled to put Northern Arizona away until the final seconds.

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ˇ?It is hard not having coach on the bench, but we have been preparing normally without him,ˇ± Arizonaˇ?s Jawann McClellan said. ˇ?Coach canˇ?t teach toughness. He canˇ?t give you toughness and give you heart. We have to go out there and do that ourselves. I donˇ?t care who is coaching the team. We need to play that way.ˇ±

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Arizona (1-0) was led by Chase Budingerˇ?s 25 points, and 18 from freshman guard Jerryd Bayless.

McClellan, the lone senior in the starting lineup, scored 15, including a pair of free throws to seal the victory with 11 seconds left.

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Nate Geiser and Kyle Landy each scored 17 points for NAU (1-1).

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The Wildcats took a 74-69 lead on a pair of Budinger free throws with 44 seconds left after two free throws by NAU's Ryan McCurdy.

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The Lumberjacks, who trailed most of the game, closed the gap with a 13-0 run late in the second half, pulling to 66-63 with 5 minutes remaining following Zach Filzen's three-point play.

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Arizona went through a stretch where it made just 4 of 22 field goal attempts in the second half to allow the Lumberjacks to close the gap.

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?ˇ?I am from the school where a win is a win, it beats the alternative,ˇ± Oˇ?Neill said. ˇ?(But) they physically dominated our inside players in the second half.ˇ±

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Arizona had led by 16 with a pair of Budinger free throws and a Nic Wise 3-pointer before Geiser hit back-to-back 3s with 7:13 remaining to keep the Lumberjacks within striking distance The Wildcats had limited NAU with only one field goal for over eight minutes in the first half to take a 41-30 edge into halftime, but never could pull safely ahead with the Lumberjacks shooting 50 percent from the field after the intermission.

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ˇ?We battled back. I think they kind of rested a little bit in the second half,ˇ± Geiser said. ˇ?They got caught on their heels.? Before you knew it we were back in the ball game and they had to wake up and play some basketball. They prevailed and hit some shots.ˇ±

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