Arizona's Mark Lyons tosses the ball up to the basket while USC's Aaron Fuller closes in during the first half of the Wildcats' loss at Galen Center in Los Angeles. Lyons managed 14 points despite going 1 of 9 from the field.


When Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller invited Angelo Chol into his office to talk about his role recently, the conversation took a somewhat unusual turn.

Chol's minutes have been cut by a third this season, and he hasn't played at all in three games. But when Miller told Chol how he wanted to play him, and that he still believed in him, Chol nearly cut Miller short.

"He said, 'Coach, as long as we're winning, you never have to talk to me,'" Miller said. "Some guys may say that and as soon as they leave, they're on a different path. Angelo is really on that path."

While Chol's attitude has been making it easier on Miller, keeping all his players happy hasn't been easy recently. Since Dec. 15, the Wildcats have played three games decided by a basket, one overtime game, one heated intrastate rivalry game and two losses.

That's seven total games in which Miller had little incentive to go beyond his trusted top eight players.

But Saturday, Arizona blew out USC 74-50 and everyone had reason to feel good, as teammates and individuals.

Especially these three players:

Gabe York

• Position: freshman guard.

• Season stats: 3.3 points per game, 35.3 percent three-point shooting, 6.4 minutes per game.

• Totals vs USC: 2-5 three-point shooting, eight minutes.

Miller said he's told York repeatedly that the best way for a player in his position to break in is to "wow" everyone when the chance arrives.

So the last two times Miller has played York more than a few minutes, against East Tennessee State and USC, the freshman guard hit two three-pointers.

"He's a big, big part of our future," Miller said. "That's not just me talking. You watch him every day in practice and fast forward to year from now (considering) who we lose."

While York's defense has been one factor in his limited playing time, Miller said the 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound guard has "improved by leaps and bounds" defensively.

"It's just repetitions," Miller said. "He's not a big guy so he has to be in the right place at the right time."

Kaleb Tarczewski

• Position: freshman center

• Season averages: 5.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 21.6 minutes

• Totals vs. USC: 3-7 shooting, seven rebounds, 22 minutes.

Tarczewski's trouble isn't finding minutes. It's finding the ball.

Tarczewski took only eight shots in the three games before Saturday, despite turning the ball over only once each against ASU and UCLA - though he has had turnover issues, with five against Oregon State and 31 overall this season.

But on Saturday against USC, the Wildcats found Tarczewski inside, and he took advantage of it with seven shots and seven trips to the foul line.

"It was really nice having seven shots and I was fouled a lot," Tarczewski said. "It was nice to get the ball and kind of show what I can do, work on stuff I need to work on.

"But there's so many great players on this team that sometimes you have to be unselfish. You really can't demand the ball."

With seven rebounds Saturday, Tarczewski is now averaging 5.7 in conference play, the second-highest number on the team after Solomon Hill (6.7).

"He's not getting enough credit for how he's rebounding," Miller said. "Scoring is going to be part of his future. Maybe it'll be part of this year's future. But he'll get better in that area.

"If he was a better free throw shooter (Tarczewski has made 53.3 percent overall this season), he'd be a better scorer. That's also something we're working with him on."

Angelo Chol

• Position: sophomore forward.

• Season averages: 1.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 8.3 minutes.

• Totals vs USC: one point, two rebounds, one block, eight minutes.

Miller stressed once again Saturday that the patience of the good-natured Chol will eventually be rewarded.

"Angelo's future is extremely bright," Miller said. "What you see now and what you see down the road is going to be two different things. I promise you that."

Up next

• What: No. 6 Arizona at Washington

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM