By Craig Degel
Tired Wildcats roll over UNC-Asheville
Arizona head coach Lute Olson said his team's jet-lagged legs were somewhere between Maui and Tucson during its game with UNC-Asheville on Saturday night.
Their heads, however, were somewhere between Maui and Chicago.
Still feeling the sting of an eight-point loss to No. 3 Duke in the Maui Invitational championship and facing a rematch with No. 2 Kansas in Chicago on Tuesday, the top-ranked Wildcats disposed of UNC-Asheville 97-69 in front of a McKale Center crowd of 14,144 in a game that was remarkable for the fact that nothing remarkable happened.
"In the first half I think we were somewhere between here and Maui," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "We were playing like we were a little tired. We had far too many turnovers."
The Wildcats (4-1) did not score a field goal in the first three minutes and turned the ball over 21 times in the game, but were able to create enough problems for the Bulldogs (2-3) that the outcome of the game was never in question.
"We were a little tired, a little groggy," junior center A.J. Bramlett said. "We had to get the cobwebs out."
Point guard Mike Bibby had 14 points and five assists but turned the ball over three times. Sophomore forward Eugene Edgerson, who got his first start of the year to provide the rebounding muscle that was missing in the Blue Devils loss, had a game-high eight rebounds but turned the ball over five times.
It was that kind of night for UA.
"This was by far my worst game here," Edgerson said. "It was a very ugly game. We made it harder than it should have been."
With Donnell Harris still out with stomach problems and the rest of the post players struggling a bit, the Wildcats were victimized for easy baskets despite a rebounding advantage of 47-31. That was in part to Bramlett's early-game foul problems. He played just 21 minutes.
Senior Michael Dickerson had a game-high 20 points and did an effective job defending Bulldog star Josh Pittman, last year's Big South Conference player of the year. Pittman had just six points in the first half. Wildcat captain Miles Simon made 5 of 7 three-point attempts, finishing with 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds.