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'Zona's Olson won't

return this season

Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson said last night he would extend his leave of absence through the end of this season, citing undisclosed family matters that require his attention.

In a statement released by the university, the 73-year-old Hall of Famer said he plans to return to coach the Wildcats for the 2008-09 season.

"There are personal issues within my family that need to be addressed and I must devote my full energy to that," Olson said in the statement.

Athletic director Jim Livengood said assistant coach Kevin O'Neill will continue to serve as interim coach for the rest of this season. The 22nd-ranked Wildcats (5-2) are at Illinois on Sunday.

Livengood said the university supports Olson's decision.

"All of us at the University of Arizona want what is best for Lute and his family," Livengood said. "He has brought immeasurable good to our program and the university and we want him to know that we are supportive and wish him nothing but the best as he tends to these issues."

Olson requested a leave of absence on Nov. 4, asking the public and media to respect his privacy. He has attended a few practices since then but has said little publicly.

Olson is 589-187 in 24 seasons at Arizona and 780-280 overall as a college head coach. Until this season, Olson had missed only seven games in 24 seasons with the Wildcats.

In games last night:

* At Detroit, freshman center Matt Howard had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks as No. 13 Butler won, 53-46, in the teams' Horizon League opener.

* At Connecticut, Jerome Dyson scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and the Huskies beat Northeastern, 69-60.

In women's games:

* At Duke, Carrem Gay's free throw with 30 seconds left put the No. 17 Blue Devils (6-3) ahead to stay in a 49-44 victory over No. 4 Rutgers (5-2), which got 15 points from Epiphanny Prince. *