The Arizona State Sun Devils (7-0) weren’t at their best Saturday night. A defensive effort surely saved them.
In a 75-57 win over San Francisco Dons (3-3), ASU shot just 36 percent from the field in the last 20 minutes, scoring 20 points below their overall average which checked in at 95.7 points (No. 3 in nation) before the game.
While ASU was cold shooting, its defense stepped in. USF made just 18 of its 63 shots, shooting 29 percent from the field.
“When you play at this level you’re not always going to play your cleanest or your best game on offense,” head coach Bobby Hurley said. “You’ve got to rely on the energy from both sides of the floor and I thought we had the right focus.”
Freshman forward Romello White led Arizona State, scoring 16 points and 13 rebounds. It was his third double-double in six games.
“His physical play. His rebounding takes pressure off the guards,” Hurley said. “Even when our guards get in the paint and miss a layup if his man is contesting his layup, he’s a free man to get that offensive rebound. He can finish.”
Dominance down near the rim is an understatement for White and ASU. The Sun Devils outscored the Dons 34-12 in the paint and outrebounded them 46-34.
The biggest difference; however, was three-point shooting. The Dons shot just 40 threes and made 11.
“It’s way harder because you really got to push,” White said.
And in pushing for rebounds, Hurley pointed to offensive rebounds as the “one negative.” The Sun Devils were beat 15-14 on the offensive boards.
Perimeter play, though, was a major positive.
Freshman point guard Remy Martin had 12 points, scoring double digits for the fourth time in seven games. He also had two steals. He’s averaging 1.7 per game and once had a season-high four against Northern Arizona.
“I feel like every team that plays us is scared when he gets in the game,” White said. “He picks us up the most out of every one on the team. When he gets in there he talks a lot.”
The Sun Devils had been through a whirlwind weekend, beating then-No. 15 Xavier to win the Las Vegas Continental Tire Championship. After eight days of rest, Hurley saw a slightly underwhelming performance coming.
“You have to be very concerned about this game and I was very concerned. Also with just what we accomplished last weekend. And the bounce back effect.”