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Arizona State basketball wins despite 3-point woes against PVAMU

(AP Photo)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State (7-2) topped the reigning SMAC tournament champions, Prairie View A&M (3-6), on Wednesday night in Tempe 88-79.

The Sun Devils took advantage of the Panthers’ first-half struggles early on as they fouled 18 times, including five in the first two minutes of the game. They totaled 32 fouls on the night, while Arizona State amassed 25 for a total of 57 fouls in the contest.

Needless to say, there was a lot of free-throw action. The Sun Devils shot 37 of 51 from the line. It was the most they’d shot in a game since Nov. 27, 2002, when they shot 57 against Utah.

“We’re used to up and down,” junior forward Romello White said. “It was a lot of fouls. It was a crazy game, I feel like, just all over the place.”

Additionally, ASU forced 20 turnovers from the Panthers. However, the Sun Devils weren’t as successful taking advantages of those mistakes as they could’ve been, only posting 22 points off of turnovers the entire night.

Head coach Bobby Hurley told 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf on Tuesday that the team’s offense was something that the Sun Devils were working on coming off Saturday’s win against Louisiana-Lafayette, but as much as he preached that, he told his players PVAMU wasn’t going down without a fight.

“I’ve been telling the guys as much as I’ve talked about the offense that we better be prepared to play a 40-minute game,” Hurley told reporters after the game.

“They fought, they could’ve backed out of it when we got it to 18 or 19, but they had another surge and they really kept competing.”

The Sun Devils really turned on the jets in the second half when they gave themselves the largest lead of the game (18 points) after going on an 18-3 run.

All night long, the Sun Devils struggled from behind the arc, something that’s plagued the team all season. The team was shooting 31.6% on the year from beyond the arc coming into Wednesday, and the struggles continued, shooting just 29% on the night.

“I asked the locker room how many guys had an open three tonight, and a lot of hands go up, and not a lot of baskets went through the rim again,” Hurley said. “We’re going to get to a point where we have to start evaluating if we should be taking those shots or who should be taking them.

“As you keep working through the season — we’re almost a third of the way through the year — so things should start turning.”

Hurley noted that the 3-point woes are something they’ve been working on in practice.

“We shoot better in drilling and segments in practice, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not carrying over when the lights are on.”

One bright spot in the 3-game was junior guard Remy Martin, who shot 2-of-2 from downtown. He also led the team with 21 points on the night.

In addition to Martin, junior guard Alonzo Verge and White were key in the win as well.

Verge tallied 20 points for the Sun Devils. He also notched his first 3-pointer of the season, but he echoed the struggles of the team from 3-point range.

“We work on shooting so much in practice, people knock down shots. It’s very frustrating seeing shots go in (during) practice and come into translating to the game and it doesn’t go in,” Verge said.

Meanwhile, White tallied his third straight double-double, posting 14 points and 16 rebounds. Hurley said they’re talking as a team to get him the ball.

“If I was scouting us, I would try to go to him and trap him the way that a lot of teams have been doing that. Until we start being more consistent and making teams pay, they’re going keep doing it.”

The Sun Devils are back in action on Saturday when they host Georgia at 6 p.m. Catch all the action on ESPN 620 AM.

TIP INS

The only other time Arizona State played Prairie View A&M, the Sun Devils topped the Panthers 100-62 on Dec. 1, 2001. Kenny Crandall scored a career-high 22 points and ASU forced 31 turnovers.

Mickey Mitchell played in his first game since Dec. 7, 2018, where he had eight minutes against Nevada. He only played six games last season due to health issues where he amassed 12 points total in 53 minutes. On Wednesday, he tallied three minutes of play.

“He just had his head high and worked to get back in today,” White said. “That was special for him to get back out there.”


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