(Photo: Tyler Rittenhouse/WCSN)
ASU defeated the San Diego State Aztecs 90-68 Tuesday night in Tempe, earning their second win in as many games this season.
The Sun Devils benefited from the return of freshman big-man Romello White, who led both teams with 15 rebounds and added 16 points for a double-double in his debut.
“I’ve been waiting for a year to play so I mean it felt great” White said.
In the first half, ASU caught momentum coming off the first TV timeout. The Sun Devils were down 9-6 and took the lead behind six points in four minutes by junior transfer De’quon Lake. ASU also defended the paint, as Lake and senior Kodi Justice each blocked two shots in that span.
ASU led by as much as 26-17 in the first half, but San Diego State would fight back. Junior Max Montana’s 12 points off four threes, all in the half’s final 10 minutes, helped the Aztecs regain the lead. SDSU was also led by senior guard Trey Kell, who led both teams with 14 first half points on 6-10 shooting (2-3 from three), as the Aztecs led 40-34 at the half.
“In the locker room we challenged the guys to just play better,” head coach Bobby Hurley said, “to make better decisions on offense, to make some threes when you’re open and shoot it with confidence.”
The Aztecs struck first in the second half, as Malik Pope’s three extended San Diego State’s lead to nine. ASU caught fire after that though, going on a 17-4 run which included seven points from Evans and 4 from Holder.
It wasn’t all positive for ASU starting the second half. Lake, who finished the night with 15 points on 7-7 shooting from the field, had three fouls only five minutes in. White proved valuable though, as he scored 12 second-half points and was the go-to option for senior guards Shannon Evans and Tra Holder.
“We just have so many options on any given night,” Holder said. “We just play for one another and are not selfish and at the end we just want to win the game.”
ASU kept its foot on the gas from there, as its guards took control of the game. Specifically, Holder caught fire from beyond the arc, scoring 15 second-half points on 3-6 shooting from three. Holder flirted with a triple-double, finishing the night with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Evans also had a big night, scoring 14 points on six rebounds and six assists.
“Both of those guys are super determined to have a great season, have us win, have a chance for us to do something special this year as a team,” Hurley said. “Individually they’re just very gifted players. They can make plays off the dribble and with the deep shot.”
Kell led the effort for the Aztecs, putting up a double-double on 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“San Diego State’s, I think, you know a very good team that will win a lot of games in their conference and are well-coached,” Hurley said. “They really played us well, defended us well in the first half so they’re going to be fine after this game.”
ASU improves to 2-0 with the victory and returns to action Friday night to host Northern Arizona at 6 p.m. in Tempe.