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ASU dismantles NAU behind Romello White’s big night

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley, left, argues with an official during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Idaho State, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State Sun Devils came out firing on all cylinders when they took on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at home Friday night.

ASU started the game with a 15-3 run and never looked back, dismantling NAU 97-62 at home in Tempe.

Senior guard Tra Holder provided the spark early on for the Sun Devils, nailing a three to start the game and netting two steals through the first half. While he only shot 3-of-13, the senior contributed nine rebounds, six assists and those two steals to go with his 12 points.

ASU senior guard Kodi Justice was also quick to find his rhythm, connecting from long range three consecutive times to help extend the Sun Devils’ already big lead. He had four total on the night and a total of 14 points.

“I consider him to be our best three-point shooting threat,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said after the game. “He hasn’t started the season as great shooting the ball so it’s nice to see him see the ball go through the rim a couple times.”

But it was freshman forward Romello White who stole the show early on for ASU as he strung together another huge performance, scoring 16 of his 25 points in the first half alone.

“My point guards kept feeding us and we just kept going to work,” White said.

And when asked if he thought White would be as dominant as he’s been through the two games he’s played, Hurley answered with a simple “yes.”

On the defensive side of the ball, ASU caused a lot of problems for NAU’s offense. As a team, ASU recorded seven steals and three blocks in the first half, leaving NAU without a field goal until the 15:08 mark.

“Our defense is way improved just with the percentages that we allowed and just the activity,” Hurley said. “We had a lot of deflections in the first half which led to turnovers.”

Before halftime, ASU jumped out to their biggest lead, 27, to push their lead to 54-27 over NAU.

The Sun Devils wouldn’t let up in the second half as they grew their lead to 35 as they continued to get the better of the Lumberjacks.

ASU senior guard Shannon Evans II got in the mix for the Devils as he added to the barrage of points, scoring 20. He also added eight assists.

White finished his night with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He also added six boards.

THE GOOD

White has shown that the rust isn’t an issue as he now has 41 points and 21 rebounds through two games of work. He’s added that extra aggression to an ASU team that has now topped the 90-point mark in all three games this season.

Junior forward De’Quon Lake had another big game, his third straight of the season. He finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Shooting 7-of-8 from the field, Lake is now 22-of-25 this season through three games as he continues to make a strong case for the starting lineup.

THE BAD

Although they got the win, the Sun Devils struggled from the charity stripe, shooting 66.7 percent in the first half compared to NAU’s 87.5 percent. They did improve a bit in the second half, bringing that number to 71.4 percent, but with how aggressive and how often ASU battled down low, the free throw differential didn’t really show as NAU went 17-22, while ASU finished at 20-28.

ASU also lost the rebound battle. Even though it looked like the Sun Devils had complete control near the hoop, NAU ended up with 42 rebounds to ASU’s 35.

STAT OF THE GAME

24: The Sun Devils spread the ball well Friday night as the team recorded 24 assists to NAU’s 12. Evans led all Devils with eight. Out of the 33 field goals made, 24 were assisted.

HE SAID IT

“From an offensive standpoint, we’re in a good place right now with our balance. Now the schedule’s going to get more difficult and more challenges are ahead so this is early so for right now I think we are pleased with what we are seeing and we just got to keep getting better and focus on our next opponent now.” — Hurley on the team through three games.

NOTED

Through three games, the Sun Devils have not scored less than 90 points.

With Holder’s Friday performance, he’s now tied for 20th on ASU’s all-time scoring list.

UP NEXT

ASU will host UC Irvine Sunday, Nov. 19 at 12 p.m. You can listen to the game on ESPN 620 AM.

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