Cats fend off pesky NAU

Lute Olson counted on his veterans to be comfortable with the return of the old offense. What he probably did not count on was that two freshmen would thrive in the system. J.P. Prince and Marcus Williams had huge games but the Wildcats struggled to beat a pesky NAU team. In the end the Cats prevailed 75-66, but did not look good doing it.

All night long the Wildcats appeared to be the superior team, but the Lumberjacks used small runs all night long to hang around. A 7-0 run in the final 2:00 allowed NAU to make it a two possession game.

They actually had the ball down just 70-66, but Kirk Walters blocked a shot and Hassan Adams was fouled in the open court. He converted both free throws and the Lumberjacks were forced to start shooting threes.

With Mustafa Shakur on the bench with two early fouls J.P. Prince saw extended action at point guard. Prince made the most of his opportunity. Shakur went on to foul out with 5:41 to play but the team did not seem to miss a beat with the young point guard running the show.

Prince dished out 10 assists, and played solid defense. He showed his length and athleticism on a fast break where he raced the length of the court to swat away a lay-up attempt.

Marcus Williams scored a career high 17 points, making his first five shots from the floor.

While the freshmen were soaring, some veterans were scuffling. Shakur was held scoreless, while playing the whole game with foul trouble. He was finally ejected after picking up a technical foul.

While Shakur's night was bad, Chris Rodgers' was worse. The senior guard drained his first shot, but then proceeded to make just one of his next eight from the field, all behind the arc. At the half Olson was not pleased with his shot selection and Rodgers never returned to the game.

While some may wonder if Rodgers' performance was a carryover from being benched at the start of the Houston, those questions cannot be asked of Hassan Adams. The senior forward had 21 points to lead the Wildcats.

The return to the traditional two-in, three-out offense really seemed to benefit Kirk Walters. The Wildcat big man had 13 points, five rebounds.

The game was tied at 55 with at the 7:30 mark, but Ivan Radenovic scored a bucket and drew the foul for the traditional three-point play. The Cats built up a double figure lead and then held on as NAU made the final run.

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