Arizona v Ohio State

Sean Miller’s contract extended through 2017-18 season

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On the heels of his second Sweet 16 (or further) trip in four seasons at Arizona, head coach Sean Miller’s contract extension through the 2017-18 season was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday.

An interesting aspect of the extension is the fact that according to Arizona director of athletics Greg Byrne, Miller requested that his salary not be increased for the fifth year of the deal (2017-18).

“When coach Miller and I sat down for our annual end-of-the-year discussion, he was very appreciative of president (Ann Weaver) Hart and my willingness to seek an extension of his contract back to five years,” Byrne said via text message. “He requested during that discussion to keep his fifth year salary at the same level as year four.

“We are very pleased that Sean is our coach and we want him to be for many years, to continue to build on the incredible academic and competitive momentum he has already led during his time at the University of Arizona.”

According to Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, Miller is due to receive $2.3 million next season and there are also academic and performance bonuses that he can earn. Miller will receive $2.6 million per year in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 season.

In four seasons at Arizona Miller has a record of 96 wins and 43 losses, with the Wildcats going 27-8 in 2012-13. Arizona has reached the NCAA tournament in two of those four seasons, with their runs being ended in close defeats to UConn (2011 Elite Eight) and Ohio State (Sweet 16 last season).

The Wildcats lose a trio of seniors in Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom, but many have made Arizona the early favorite to win the Pac-12. Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are the headliners in a very good recruiting class, and Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell will take over at point guard.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.

No. 23 USC falls at Arizona State

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley applauds the efforts of his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
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No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.

No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.

The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.

Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.

As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.

Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.

Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.