No. 11 Bruins Down Northern Arizona, 90-68

Box Score

Dec. 18, 1997

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Two years ago, J.R. Henderson would have given up if he had to play in pain.

But in a sign he has matured in his senior season, Henderson ignored his aching back and sore left knee to match a career-high with 29 points as No. 11 UCLA defeated Northern Arizona 90-68 Thursday night.

"I was very surprised when I heard what I had. It just made me think what I'm capable of doing," said Henderson, who had eight rebounds and seven steals.

"That was a test for me to see if I could play through pain and fatigue. I did an OK job; I could have done better on my free throws (7-of-14)," he said.

Henderson had 20 or more points for the fifth straight game. The Bruins (5-1) have won five straight since a season-opening 41-point loss to North Carolina.

Elsewhere in the Top 25, it was No. 2 Kansas 96, Pepperdine 83; No. 13 Arkansas 61, Centenary 48; and No. 25 Syracuse 82, Buffalo 70.

Toby Bailey added 26 points and freshman Baron Davis had 17 points and eight steals for UCLA.

"It's our time to take over, and that's what he's doing," Bailey said of Henderson. "We knew he could do this anytime. This year, he's getting the chance with Jelani McCoy out."

Northern Arizona (4-4) had the Bruins out of sync early. The Lumberjacks shot 50 percent from 3-point range and controlled the boards, 20-15, to trail by just four at halftime.

"They were penetrating the gaps pretty well. We weren't expecting those short guys to go all the way to the basket and lay the ball up," Henderson said. "We kind of got caught off-guard on defense."

Andrew Mavis had 16 points for the Lumberjacks, the Big Sky Conference regular-season champions who got within two points three times late in the first half.

"We were happy with the first half. We expected to be there with them," Mavis said. "The difference in the second half was turnovers. We couldn't handle their pressure."

Northern Arizona finished the game with a 33-27 rebounding edge, but committed 21 of its 32 turnovers in the second half.

"We competed well, but we shot so many less shots because of the turnovers. They are what killed us," Lumberjacks coach Ben Howland said.

UCLA came out aggressively on the boards at the beginning of the second half, taking away the Lumberjacks' second chances, while scoring the first seven points for a 47-36 lead.

Henderson and Bailey dominated the opening seven minutes, combining to score 17 of the Bruins' first 19 points and stretch UCLA's lead to 59-48 with 12:35 remaining.

"It's our job to be steady and put up consistent numbers, either in points or in a steady effort," Bailey said.