After a stretch of dismal offensive performances, punctuated by an embarrassing 40-point loss to the St. Mary’s Gaels, Arizona State (9-4) recaptured their scoring prowess Saturday with a dominant 98-81 win over the visiting Texas Southern Tigers (3-9). The Sun Devils never trailed in the contest, utilizing an impressive offensive outburst in the game’s early minutes to end their non-conference schedule on a high note.
ASU’s offensive attack was both potent and unpredictable, with three different Sun Devils totaling over 20 points. Guard Remy Martin bounced back after a handful of disappointing scoring outputs, including a zero point effort against St. Mary’s, notching 23 points on 8-13 shooting. The junior opened Saturday’s matchup with a renewed intensity, connecting on his first five attempts to pace the Sun Devil attack.
Guard Alonzo Verge continued his recent strong play in the win, pouring in 23 points while hitting on 10 of 13 attempts. The junior college transfer has worked hard to elevate multiple facets of his game, leading ASU in both assists (7) and rebounds (6) in Saturday’s win.
Possibly the most encouraging takeaway from ASU’s victory was the emergence of guard Jaelen House. The highly touted prospect has had an up-and-down start to his freshman campaign, displaying a relentless drive on the defensive end while still searching for offensive consistency. His performance Saturday signals a potential turning point for the freshman, as House lit up the Tigers to the tune of 20 points on 7-9 shooting including 5-7 from three in only 22 minutes of action.
Not every takeaway from Saturday’s victory was positive for ASU, as forward Romello White left the game midway through the first half with an ankle injury. The junior has been one of the Sun Devil’s most consistent contributors, averaging 12.5 points and 11 rebounds coming into Saturday’s matchup, and one of ASU’s few proven low-post threats. With fellow forward Jalen Graham still recovering from a concussion suffered earlier in the season, coach Bobby Hurley turned to both Khalid Thomas and Mickey Mitchell Saturday to fill the void down low for ASU.
ASU now begins their Pac-12 play as they head down to Tucson to do battle with the 24th ranked Arizona Wildcats on January 4th. With a difficult conference schedule looming, including a trip to Eugene on January 11th for a matchup with 6th ranked Oregon Ducks before a rematch with these same Wildcats on January 25th, the Sun Devils will look to build off Saturday’s strong play and stay afloat in the cutthroat Pac-12.