TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Zeke Nnaji scored 20 points in his college debut and No. 21 Arizona opened the season with a 91-52 rout over Northern Arizona on Wednesday night.
Arizona used its size to dominate inside, causing the Lumberjacks problems at both ends of the floor in their first game under Shane Burcar.
The Wildcats led by 22 at halftime, shot 54% and had a 42-14 advantage in the paint.
Stone Gettings added 13 points and Nnaji hit 9 of 12 shots.
Cameron Shelton led Northern Arizona with 17 points. The Lumberjacks shot 32% and had 19 turnovers.
An assistant last season, Burcar was elevated to interim coach for the 2019-20 season after Jack Murphy returned to his alma mater to be Sean Miller’s associate head coach.
Murphy left Burcar with plenty of talent on the roster, but the Lumberjacks had a tough matchup trying to slow the long, athletic Wildcats.
Arizona worked the ball inside to Nnaji and NAU had no answer. Overpowering the Lumberjacks inside, the 6-foot-11 freshman on 6-of-7 shooting by halftime.
The Wildcats, after a slow start, made and had a 44-22 halftime lead.
Northern Arizona struggled with Arizona’s size on offense as well, hitting 7 of 27 shots.
Arizona kept turning to Nnaji inside to start the second half and he kept scoring, bulling past the Lumberjacks to score three baskets inside.
Northern Arizona never stood much of a chance in one of college basketball’s toughest road venues, but the experience could help when the Big Sky Conference starts.
Arizona was sharp at both ends, playing like it should against a small-conference school.
Northern Arizona hosts Sagu American Indian College on Friday.
Arizona hosts Illinois on Sunday.
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