for this game

Arizona starts strong, finishes the same for first win of season

Nov 16, 2006 - 4:59 AM TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Freshman Chase Budinger helped Arizona to another strong start - one that would not go to waste.

Budinger scored 23 of his 32 points in the first half as the 16th-ranked Wildcats cruised to their first win of the season, a 101-79 victory over Northern Arizona in a non-conference matchup.

Mustafa Shakur added 20 points for Arizona (1-1), which won its 23rd consecutive meeting over the Lumberjacks (1-2).

In their season opener Sunday, the Wildcats assumed control after the opening tip, building a 49-36 lead at the half. But they allowed Virginia to shoot 59 percent in the closing 20 minutes, resulting in a 93-90 setback for their first season-opening loss since the 1986-87 campaign.

However, against Northern Arizona, Budinger, who made 5-of-6 3-pointers, helped ignite another impressive start for Arizona, which entered the locker room with a 48-40 edge.

"Chase was the player that he needs to be each time out," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "He has the ability to put the ball in the basket and he sees the floor really well. He was much more aggressive tonight than he has been before."

The Wildcats insured that there would not be another second-half meltdown as they put together a 22-8 run for a 70-48 cushion with 13:35 left. Shakur scored nine points during the spurt.

"(Mustafa) works so hard and has done such a good job for us all year long," Olson said. "Sometimes I think Mustafa puts too much pressure on himself. In the first half, he was trying to do too much and in the second half he did a good job making great passes and shots."

Arizona held Northern Arizona to 32 percent (11-of-34) shooting in the closing half.

"(In the second half), we wanted to pick it up defensively and come out with more energy," Shakur said.

"I thought the second half we played well," Olson said. "I wasn't pleased with the first half."

Stephen Sir, who went 5-of-6 from the arc, netted 17 points for the Lumberjacks.

"Our defense wasn't bad in the first half except on Budinger," Sir said. "We allowed him to shoot and shoot and it got really annoying to watch. We didn't do a good job of keeping guys in front of us."

Arizona center Kirk Walters missed the game due to mononucleosis. He will be out indefinitely.

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