In a season opener unlike any other, the Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0) men’s basketball team held off Rhode Island (0-1) 94-88 in a spirited affair at the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Connecticut.
Senior guard Remy Martin ultimately led the Sun Devils to victory with 26 points in a game that featured high-powered offense on both sides.
Slow play was the theme of the first half, with plenty of fouls and very few transition buckets for either squad.
The Sun Devils were the main beneficiary of the onslaught of whistles, going 20-28 from the line in the half. Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell accounted for four of the Ram’s 17 first-half fouls, forcing the star guard off the floor for much of the game.
Martin and freshman forward Marcus Bagley led the Devils offensively into a 48-41 lead at the break.
A fast second half start from Rhode Island pulled the Rams even at 62, seven minutes in. Antwan Walker gave the Rams first lead with a deep 3-pointer just a minute later. From then on, the two teams traded buckets throughout much of the second half.
Bobby Hurley, who is often animated on the sideline, was hit with a technical foul with six minutes to go, allowing Rhode Island to take an 83-82 lead on a pair of Russell free throws.
Martin continued to lead ASU on the offensive end, but the Rams wouldn’t go away, giving ASU everything it could handle down to the final minute.
Junior college transfer Chris Osten’s and-one sequence gave Arizona State its final lead of the night with under three minutes left.
Holland Woods finished the contest with a steal and score to put the Sun Devils up six. The Portland State transfer scored 11 points in the win. Bagley had 16 and Josh Christopher also aided Martin with 11 points himself.
The Sun Devils will finish the Empire Classic tomorrow against third-ranked Villanova at 7:30 p.m. MT on ESPN.