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No. 11 Arizona holds on to beat Utah 74-73

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona watched all of its 13-point lead over Utah disappear. Someone needed to step up and make a shot.

Of course it was Dusan Ristic, the Wildcats’ 7-foot big man, on a contested 3-pointer.

Ristic, 0 for 5 on the season from the arc, hit a 3-pointer in the final two minutes and made all three of his attempts while scoring 23 points, helping No. 11 Arizona hold off Utah 74-73 on Saturday.

“I made two before and I was confident enough to take it,” said Ristic, who eclipsed 1,000 career points with his final 3. “I usually don’t take those, even in practice.”

Despite playing without sophomore guard Rawle Alkins (foot) for the third time in four games, Arizona (18-4, 8-1 Pac-12) appeared to be in control after Ristic’s 3-pointer and two free throws put the Wildcats up four.

Utah rallied from a 13-point, second-half deficit and made it interesting at the end, pulling within 74-73 on Justin Bibbins’ 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left, then got the ball back after Arizona’s Allonzo Trier was called for an offensive foul before the ball was inbounded.

The Utes (12-9, 4-5) passed the ball inside to Donnie Tillman, but he was unable to hit a contested shot. Arizona’s Keanu Pinder then missed a free throw with 0.3 seconds left and David Collette was well short on a desperation shot from the opposite free throw line.

Sedrick Barefield led Utah with 26 points and keyed a 12-0 second-half run that pushed the Utes into the lead.

“We made enough shots to make it interesting in the end,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It was a heck of a game and it’s unfortunate anybody has to lose.

Utah avenged an earlier loss on Thursday by knocking off No. 21 Arizona State. Barefield hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left and the Utes didn’t miss a shot in overtime in the 80-77 victory.

Arizona won the first meeting with Utah 94-82 in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4. Alkins had 22 points in that one, but was in street clothes for the rematch.

The Wildcats didn’t seem to miss their emotional leader, jumping out with a 14-4 run while hitting their first six shots.

The Utes gathered themselves after the early Arizona onslaught and quieted the rowdy McKale Center crowd — at least a little — with a 9-0 run to pull within 31-27 late in the first half.

Arizona kept hitting shots, though, and held Utah scoreless over the final 4:35 to lead 43-33 at halftime. The Wildcats went 16 for 23 from the floor, including 7 of 9 from the 3-point arc.

“We moved the ball well,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We had an unselfish team.”

The Utes started making shots again in the second half. So did Arizona, keeping the lead to at least 7.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Trier each picked up fouls, giving Utah an opportunity.

The Utes took advantage even as Miller rotated both players back in, scoring 12 straight points to take a 66-65 lead with 5 ½ minutes left.

“We have a nice resilience to us and I think our guys are realizing that if you play hard and bring the fight, we have a chance,” Krystkowiak said.

BIG PICTURE

Utah got only a desert split, but beating one ranked team and losing to another in one of the nation’s toughest road environments is a solid trip.

Arizona keeps finding ways to win, is firmly in control of the Pac-12 lead and could move up in Monday’s AP Top 25.

ALKINS UPDATE

Alkins had surgery before the season for a stress fracture in his right foot, causing him to miss Arizona’s first nine games. When the soreness issue started to arise two weeks ago, Arizona decided to take a cautious route, hoping to have him pain free for March.

Miller said Alkins has been through a string of medical tests to see if there’s damage to his foot and nothing has shown up.

“He doesn’t have a fracture of any kind,” he said. “His bone is healing; in some parts it’s completely healed, other parts it’s good healing. But when a player that has a foot like that his that’s been surgically repaired and runs into discomfort all of a sudden, you really just have to shut him down.”

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

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The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

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Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.

NCAA President Mark Emmert got a $500,000 raise in 2016

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NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.

That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.

But there’s not enough money to pay the players.

Nope.

Everyone is broke.

Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.