Arizona State perseveres through losing White to top Texas Southern

Dec 28, 2019, 4:32 PM | Updated: 6:08 pm
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)...
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona State Sun Devils snapped a two-game losing streak by wrapping up their non-conference schedule with a 98-81 win over Texas Southern in Tempe on Saturday.

The Sun Devils (9-4) achieved victory over the Tigers (3-9) with minimal depth in their frontcourt, after redshirt-junior forward Romello White exited the game with a right ankle sprain with about 12 minutes to go in the first half and did not return.

“It’s a good sign that you could lose some on that’s as significant as he is and I wouldn’t say we didn’t miss a beat, but we just had to figure out how to attack a little differently,” head coach Bobby Hurley said after the game.

Hurley added that he would provide an update on White in the coming days.

Coming into Saturday’s game, White led the Pac-12 in rebounding with an average of 11 per game, and he’d notched double-doubles in five of the last six games that the Sun Devils had played.

Hurley noted that the team relies on White to pick up points in the paint, but they still grabbed 48 points below the rim despite White’s absence for the majority of the contest.

Coming into the game, freshman forward Jalen Graham and junior forward Andre Allen were both not available for Hurley, so the Sun Devils were already short in their frontcourt.

The loss of White opened the door for senior forward Mickey Mitchell to have his most active game of the season. Mitchell, who missed all but six games last season due to health issues, played 26 minutes and had four points, four rebounds and two assists.

“Regardless of how my offense is going, I always try to bring my intensity because that’s something I can control,” Mitchell said. “I can’t control every single shot, but I can control how hard I play and how hard I try to get others to play, and I try to be contagious with that energy.”

Around the rest of the Sun Devil offense, junior guards Remy Martin led and Alonzo Verge Jr. both led the team with 23 points. Freshman guard Jaelen House scored 20 points, as well.

A big improvement for the Sun Devils came from their three-point game. The team shot 48% from beyond the arc on Saturday, their second-best of the season.

House was a big contributor on the three, sinking five of seven from that range.

“I was just taking good shots, high-quality shots because every time I made a shot it was off-ball movement, so I felt pretty good tonight,” House said.

The improvement has come from the shot developing as the season progresses.

“We have enough guys that can make that shot. It just for whatever reason, it has not fully developed the way that we had hoped,” Hurley said.

“I think if you look at how we took those threes, I thought there might have been three or four that were a little ill-advised, but most of them came off of somebody hitting the paint and kicking out or going inside out and those are the ones you generally make,” Hurley said.

The Sun Devils will open up conference play on Jan. 4 when they take on the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Listen live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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