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WSU basketball: Arizona wins battle of the Wildcats

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Arizona's Nic Wise, right, knocks the ball loose from Weber State's Daviin Davis during the first half of Arizona's 71-65 win.

Arizona’s Nic Wise, right, knocks the ball loose from Weber State’s Daviin Davis during the first half of Arizona’s 71-65 win.

Jill Torrance, Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — After Monday, it may be another 39 years before Arizona schedules Weber State again.

Weber State held a three-point lead early in the second half and was within four points after Kellen McCoy's layup with 25.3 seconds remaining, but Arizona hung on for a 71-65 victory at McKale Center in the teams' first meeting since 1969.

Keller had 16 points — the eighth straight game in which a different player has led the balanced Weber State attack in scoring — and freshman Damian Lillard tied his career high with 15 points.

After McCoy's basket, Arizona inbounded the ball and ran 10.5 seconds off the clock before Weber State could foul Jamelle Horne, who made two free throws to finish the scoring.

"We played our hearts out tonight," senior McCoy said. "We wanted it. We smelled it. They just made some shots down the stretch. We left it all on the floor. We continue to improve, game-in and game-out. We defended. We continued to fight.

"They went on runs, but in the huddle we said we are going to come back with a run of our own. It's a never-quit attitude that coach (Randy) Rahe has given to us, and we're going to keep it up. At the half, we knew we could play with them."

Lillard scored Weber State's first 11 points of the second half to overcome a 31-30 halftime deficit, and his three-pointer two possessions in was good for a 36-33 lead.

Arizona (9-3) went on a 14-2 run to take a nine-point lead, but Weber State never backed off while holding Arizona to a season-low 37.7 field goal percentage. Arizona entered eighth in NCAA Division 1 in shooting accuracy.

"I felt like we were right there," Rahe said. "The first five minutes of the second half was key. They made a couple of threes and it looked like the tide was starting to turn.

"But our kids responded well and stayed in the game the whole way through. They're obviously a quality opponent. We came in and played in a hostile environment, and it was a good game for them."

Weber State (6-7) finished a stretch of four straight games away from home as it prepared to open Big Sky Conference play against Northern Colorado at the Dee Events Center on Saturday.

"They defended and played better than any team we will see in conference," McCoy said. "This is going to help us in conference play."

Arizona played without 6-10 power forward Jordan Hill, out with a leg injury, but still outrebounded Weber State, 46-36. It had 19 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points.

Nic Wise had a career-high 23 points and Chase Budinger had 16 for Arizona, but Budinger made only 3 of 14 field goal attempts, with Nick Hansen and Daviin Davis defending him most of the time. Lillard, who shifted to the point guard with McCoy assigned to the "two" about a month ago, continued a strong stretch in which he has scored 15, 14, 11 and 13 points.

"Lately I've been being aggressive. I felt like I could be effective," Lillard said. "My teammates were penetrating and dishing to me, and I was open, so the least I could do is make some shots."

Weber State came into the game understanding Arizona's trapping zone defense would force the ball to the perimeter, so Raye encouraged his players to continue shooting from outside.

Weber tied a season-high with 11 three-point field goals while taking a season-high 32.

"The only time you get in trouble with me is if you turn down open looks," Rahe said of his offensive approach.

"We just needed to make two or three more to really have a shot."

Lillard: "I think from the jump (Arizona) just expected us to give in there in the second half and we didn't let it happen.

"That's a strong team, and we could stay with them."