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November 13, 2007TUCSON, Ariz. - Chase Budinger scored 25 points to help No. 17 Arizona hold off Northern Arizona 76-69 on Tuesday night, opening the season without Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson on the bench.
Olson, who has been on a personal leave of absence since Nov. 4, was replaced by assistant Kevin O'Neill. Olson had missed only seven previous games during his 25-years as Wildcats coach. Six came after the death of his wife Bobbi during the 2000-2001 season and one was against LaSalle due to a back injury in 1994. Arizona is 5-3 without him.
With O'Neill in charge, Arizona started two freshmen and a pair of sophomores, who struggled to put Northern Arizona away until the final seconds.
Nate Geiser and Kyle Landy each scored 17 points for NAU (1-1).
The Wildcats took a 74-69 lead on a pair of Budinger free throws with 44 seconds left after two free throws by NAU's Ryan McCurdy.
The Lumberjacks, who trailed most of the game, closed the gap with a 13-0 run late in the second half, pulling to 66-63 with 5 minutes remaining following Zach Filzen's three-point play.
Arizona had led by 16 with a pair of Budinger free throws and a Nic Wise 3-pointer before Geiser hit back-to-back 3s to keep the Lumberjacks within striking distance.
For more coverage of Arizona, visit GoAzCats.com.