(AP) — Solomon Hill had 15 points, Josh Fogg added 11 and Arizona overcame a sluggish start to beat Northern Arizona 53-39 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (6-2) had their 22-game home winning streak end the last time out at McKale Center and had their fans grumbling against after a disjointed start against the young Lumberjacks. Arizona shook off its shakiness behind a defense-trigged run to end the first half and three 3-pointers by Fogg to open the second, extending its winning streak over Northern Arizona to 28 games.
The Lumberjacks (2-6) had the bigger, faster Wildcats on their heels early and fought back late after going on a long scoreless streak for the second straight game. They never made it all the way back, though, leaving Tucson with a loss after leading the Wildcats for the second straight year.
Colin Gruber had 11 points to lead Northern Arizona.
Last season, Northern Arizona gave the Wildcats all they could handle.
Despite travel woes that pushed the game's start back and had them arrive in Tucson just an hour before tipoff, the Lumberjacks stayed with Arizona until the end, thanks to Cameron Jones' 27 points. The Wildcats needed some big defensive stops and an even bigger jumper from Kevin Parrom late to pull out the 63-58 win.
A repeat performance seemed unlikely.
For one, this Northern Arizona looks nothing like the team that came into McKale Center last season.
Jones, the program's all-time leading scorer, graduated and is playing in the NBADL. The Lumberjacks also lost starting forward Shane Johannsen and several other key contributors, including guard Gabe Rogers to a shoulder injury.
Northern Arizona had a rough start to the season, opening 0-3 for the first time in 11 years and was blown out in its last game, 87-52, against BYU in Prescott Valley, Ariz., on Wednesday.
Arizona dropped from the rankings with consecutive losses to Mississippi State and San Diego State, then bounced back with a seven-point road win against New Mexico State on Tuesday. Deep and reloaded after Derrick Williams left for the NBA, the Wildcats figured to have too much firepower for Northern Arizona to keep up.
Instead, Arizona gave the Lumberjacks another chance.
Arizona didn't have a field goal until Josiah Turner hit a 3-pointer 4½ minutes in and missed eight of its first nine shots. The Wildcats played good defense early in Northern Arizona possessions, only to give up good looks late, allowing the Lumberjacks to get out to a 12-5 lead.
This time, it didn't last.
Arizona hit a few more shots after the sluggish start, finishing 9 of 24 in the first half. The Wildcats did their best work on the defensive end, though, holding Northern Arizona without a field goal over the final 9:26 to lead 25-19.
The Lumberjacks went 6½ minutes without a field goal during the final stretch, matching the scoreless streak they had in the first half of their loss to BYU.
Arizona tried to run away with it in the second half, with Fogg hitting three 3-pointers in the first 2:37 to put the Wildcats up 35-21.
The Lumberjacks kept fighting back, trimming to lead down to eight with under 7 minutes left before Arizona stretched it out to grab another win against its smaller in-state rival.