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Kentucky assistant coach now has million-dollar contract

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On Wednesday morning, Kentucky announced that the program had signed John Calipari’s three assistant coaches to two-year contracts.

In doing so, Kentucky set the bar for just how much a coaching staff an make in the collegiate ranks.

Kenny Payne, who was promoted to associate head coach, now has a deal with $1 million. He won’t be making that annually — it will be spread out over the two years of his contract — but there are a number of head coaches at NCAA tournament-caliber programs that don’t make that much money. Payne was already making $350,000 annually before he got his $150,000 raise.

John Robic, who has been on staff with Calipari for 15 seasons at UMass, Memphis and now Kentucky, will be making $375,000 a year, as will newly-hired Barry Rohrssen. Rohrssen replaced new South Florida head coach Orlando Antigua, who made $275,000 last season.

The numbers are staggering, and they will surely make folks wonder how a program can afford to pay coaches that much without being able to scrape together full cost-of-attendance scholarships for the athletes. But this is Kentucky. That program is as flush as flush can get. If it was allowed, Cal would certainly make sure that his players got what they deserved.

And, to be frank, the job that his staff has done means that they have earned those salaries. Once Julius Randle and James Young get drafted this year, that will bring the total to 19 Kentucky players getting drafted in his tenure in Lexington. That’s not bad.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: