OGDEN — Damian Lillard would rather not talk about how he can turn busted plays into a highlight reel.
The self-effacing guard would prefer to ignore the fact that a half-dozen NBA scouts are now regulars at Big Sky contests. And the Oakland native would just as soon focus on the accomplishments of the Wildcats (18-4, 10-1) when fans stop to talk with him instead of how he's leading the nation's basketball players in scoring.
But he's too nice to do what he wants.
"He's having a terrific season," said Weber State head coach Randy Rahe after the Wildcats defeated Northern Colorado 93-81 Saturday at the Dee Events Center. "Everyone wants a piece of him. Everybody wants to talk to him. Everybody wants to interview him. Professors, students, fans, they want to talk with him about everything that's going on. It's tough being good. A lot of stuff goes with it."
That "stuff" was causing the 21-year-old star some trouble last week as he struggled for the first time this season. On Monday, he suggested that he just needed to clear his head, focus on what he and his teammates want to accomplish on the court.
"I like it when he's clear," said Rahe with a smile. "He cleared himself up; he knows what to do. I could see on Monday this week, when he took the court this week in practice, the smile was back on his face, the energy was back in his face."
Rahe said he encouraged Lillard to just "be himself."
"He's such a wonderful person," said Rahe after Lillard led the team with 35 points, five assists and two steals. "He doesn't want to give the feeling that he thinks he's any better than anyone else. He doesn't picture himself as a big deal. And dealing with that wore him down, but he is obviously starting to deal with it better."
So much better that he scored 75 points in his last two games.
When asked about his performance, Lillard gave credit to his teammates and the Wildcats' defensive effort.
"The first half we just came out aggressive on defense," Lillard said. "When we did that, it got them sped up. We tried to take charges, and it got them out of their offense some."
The Bears were led by Tate Unruh, who scored 17 points, and Tim Huskisson, who added 14 points. But the Bears were hurt by their 16 turnovers.
Both teams were able to hit outside shots with Weber hitting 12 3-pointers in the game, five of those in the first half, while the Bears hit 10 of 20 from behind the arc.
Key for the Wildcats was turnovers. The aggressive defense resulted in tipped passes, steals and generally broken plays that helped shift the momentum in Weber's favor.
"It was a dogfight early as we tried to establish ourselves," said Rahe. "The first half our urgency was good, our pressure was good, our activity was really good, and we forced them out of some things they wanted to do."
Scott Bamforth had another solid outing with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Gelaun Wheelwright scored 11 and Byron Fulton finished with 10 points.
Rahe and Lillard's teammates know they are watching something special when the guard drives the lane.
"The one thing I never want to do is take him for granted," said Rahe. "There are sometimes when I look back and think, 'Wow. That was a big shot.' Some of those finishes are what make you go wow."
Forward Darin Mahoney said they get used to seeing Lillard work his magic.
"We see it so many times," he said shaking his head. "One game last year he made five 3's in a row, and one of the big guys leaned over to me and said, 'Does he ever miss?' I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary that he was 5-for-5. He takes good shots and it's always in the flow of the game."
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