By Kevin Clerici
Arizona Daily Wildcat November 27, 1996
Looking at Arizona's 88-70 score over Northern Arizona last night and Michael Dickerson's 31 points, it would be easy to think it was a cakewalk for the Wildcats.
Down 32-17 in the first half, the Lumberjacks went on a 15-0 run to tie the game and take a 36-35 lead at halftime.
"I felt NAU came in really prepared. They did a good job running their stuff," UA head coach Lute Olson said. "We need to do a better job at recognizing it."
It wasn't until midway through the second half that Arizona broke away, beating the Lumberjacks in front of 14,550 at McKale Center last night.
"They should get a lot of credit," Dickerson said. "That score doesn't show how close it really was."
Arizona committed five turnovers in 11 possessions during NAU's run and Andrew Mavis' three-point shooting kept it within reach. Mavis finished 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, scoring 22 in the game.
"They were working hard, real patient, good with running their stuff," UA center Donnell Harris said. "Then they started making their shots."
Arizona's youth and lack of a vocal leader were apparent during NAU's comeback.
"It's going to be like that with all the young people that we have," Olson said. "It's not only the new guys - we are even a little inexperienced with the so-called veterans. Our biggest problem right now is that we don't have that holler guy."
The Lumberjacks eventually cooled and the UA defense heated up. Arizona limited NAU to only five offensive rebounds in the second half and had six steals, which resulted in numerous easy layups.
"I give them all the credit," NAU coach Ben Howland said. "They are tough to play in here. They create a lot of turnovers with their defense."
Dickerson's hot hand finished any Lumberjack comeback attempt.
"He has improved so much this year," Howland said. "His ability to shoot is amazing. He has NBA potential."
Dickerson scored 19 points after the break on 7-of-11 shooting.
"I expect it from him every game. He is a great player," Harris said. "He is so much fun to play with."
Olson, however, preferred to focus on his big man's effort.
"Hands-down, Donnell Harris had the best game for us tonight," Olson said. "He made some key switches and was very active. I liked a lot of things that we saw from him. We need for him to be the big-time player on this team as we get closer to January."
Harris had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Jason Terry added 17 points and seven assists and only three turnovers in 35 minutes. Freshman Mike Bibby scored 13.
With the sweat still soaked in their jerseys after the game, it was eveident that Arizona is already looking ahead. The Wildcats will play 19th-ranked New Mexico Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.
A.J. Bramlett went to Albuquerque's La Cueva High School and will be facing a rematch with old high school nemesis Kenny Thomas, the Lobos' center.
Arizona Daily Wildcat sports reporter Shoshana Burrus contributed to this report.