Buoyed by the return of forward Kevin Parrom, the Arizona Wildcats shook off another rough first half to beat Ball State 73-63 at McKale Center.
Parrom added six points and four rebounds off the bench for Arizona, but of course his production was only secondary. He was making a dramatic comeback from being shot in the leg and hand on Sept. 24, returning far quicker than the Wildcats initially expected.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats had 21 points from guard Kyle Fogg and 16 points and 11 rebounds from Solomon Hill. In addition, they experimented with both Jordin Mayes and Nick Johnson at point guard while freshman Josiah Turner did not play.
Turner did not start Wednesday against Duquense because he was late for a pregame shootaround but his absence today was not due to suspension, according to a UA spokesman.
Miller played Nick Johnson at point guard behind starter Jordin Mayes, but the Wildcats struggled offensively for a variety of reasons early while trailing 38-29 at halftime.
Arizona is now 3-0, extending its homecourt winning streak to 22 regular-season games. The Wildcats will next play St. John's on Thursday in New York.
Parrom has been rehabilitating since a few days after he was shot in the right leg and left hand on Sept. 24, but only had two days of full practice before playing in today's game. Coach Sean Miller said on Friday that Parrom would not be available today, but that he might on Thursday at New York against St. John's.
Inside the Wildcats struggled to find an answer for Ball State's Jarrod Jones, who had 25 points and nine rebounds. Miller started Angelo Chol at center in the second half over Kyryl Natyazhko, then went to freshman Sidiki Johnson, who only played one minutes in the Wildcats' first two games.
Johnson was fouled on his first shot attempt under the basket with 13:21 and hit the second of two free throws.
The Wildcats cut down on turnovers and defended the Cardinals better in the second half, taking their first lead since the early minutes at 6:07 when Nick Johnson hit a pair of free throws.
Ball State was leading 53-51 with 7:57 left to play. Kyle Fogg and Kevin Parrom hit three pointers in the previous five minutes, and UA hit three of its first five threes overall in the half.
Arizona had no turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half - after committing 10 before halftime -- while Ball State had four, including two during a critical early second half stretch when UA outscored the Cardinals 13-3. Arizona trailed just 47-46 at the end of the run, with 12:10 left when Parrom hit his three pointer.
Jesse Perry made a reverse layup to cut Ball State's lead to 44-40 with 14 minutes left.
Arizona had another difficult first half, trailing 38-29 to Ball State at halftime.
Arizona had 10 turnovers in the first half and shot just 33 percent. Mayes was scoreless with no assists and one turnover while Johnson had three points, two turnovers and no assists.
Inside, Jesse Perry went scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting and with only one rebound.
The Wildcats were led offensively by guard Kyle Fogg, who had 10 points.
It was only the latest in a series of first-half struggles for the Wildcats, who trailed Duquesne by two at halftime and led Valparaiso by only two. In exhibition play, Arizona led Humboldt State by only three at halftime and trailed Seattle Pacific by eight en route to a shocking loss to the Division II team.
Parrom scored his first points with 4:40 left in the first half, hitting both ends of a one-and-one.
Parrom had entered the game with 15:13, receiving standing ovation upon checking in.
However, Ball State's Jesse Berry made a three-pointer over Parrom on the first possession he was in the game.
Check back here for another update by Bruce Pascoe at the end of the game.