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Sean Miller mulls solutions to Arizona’s slow starts

Opponent First media TO Final score Diff
Charleston Southern 5-11 82-73 + 15
UTEP 13-8 72-51 + 16
Long Beach State 13-8 94-72 + 17
NAU 10-4 93-50 + 37
at Texas Tech 13-11 85-57 + 26
Southern Miss 3-2 63-55 + 7
at Clemson 5-2 66-54 + 9
Florida 7-12 65-64 + 6
Oral Roberts 12-4 89-64 + 17
vs. East Tennessee St. 13-2 73-53 + 9
vs. Miami 5-7 69-50 + 17
vs. San Diego State 3-1 68-67 - 1
Colorado 6-9 92-83 + 12
Utah 11-5 60-57 - 3
at Oregon 13-10 66-70 - 7
at Oregon State 8-6 80-70 + 8
at Arizona State 11-9 71-54 + 17
UCLA 3-11 73-84 - 3
USC 8-2 74-50 + 18
at Washington 3-10 57-53 + 11
at Washington State 16-9 79-65 + 7
Stanford 2-10 73-66 + 15

Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller came armed with the stats. His team, his reported, has been leading at the first media timeout in 15 of its 22 games.

He dropped those numbers into his press conference after a 73-66 victory over Stanford on Thursday, when a slow start was sure to be a topic of discussion.

It was his way of saying he didn’t see a horribly disturbing trend, that there was no need to panic.

On the other hand … he knows he can only protect his team from this particular criticism for so long before he has to do something about it.

The Cats were down 10-0 to Stanford at the start of the game and 10-2 at the first media timeout, with 15:56 to go in the half.

That marked the third time in the past five games that the Wildcats had put themselves into peril with a bad start.

They were down 11-3 to UCLA and 10-3 at Washington at the first media timeout, which comes with the first dead ball following the 16:00 mark of the half.

Arizona came back to beat Washington, but lost at home to UCLA. The Cats trailed the Bruins by as many as 16 in the first half, trimming the lead to four before losing 84-73.

“The thing about playing in McKale when you’re down 10-0, you almost feel guilty,” Miller said.

“I feel like in our UCLA game, we tried to get it back so eagerly that we ended up playing a game that wasn’t anywhere close to how we play.”

Miller said the message after the early deficit vs. Stanford was this: Stay the course.

“Let’s learn from what we did against UCLA and let’s execute and be ourselves from this point on,” Miller said.

That worked, as Arizona rallied to win 73-66, improving its record to 20-2 heading into Sunday’s home game against Cal.

Miller was right, by the way, about being up 15 times at the first media timeout. He would like to make that 16 on Sunday.

There’s something to be said about being resilient — Arizona has trailed by at least eight points in nine games, and has won seven of them — but there’s also something good about avoiding playing with fire.

“I’m going to address the slow starts,” Miller said Thursday.

“You’re not going to be winning at every one of them. But there are a couple … where you start to say to yourself, ‘We don’t have that confident look that we want. What I’m going to do is place five guys out there that have a confidence look. We’re going to address that over the next couple of days.

Kevin Parrom, in particular, is a candidate to start. To me, he doesn’t care if it’s 0-0 or 10-0 or 50-50, he’s going to be the same. As a senior, maybe that’s something we can use at the beginning of the game right now.”

Sean Miller

This look from Sean Miller might have had something to do with a slow start at Washington. Photo by Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

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