ASU Basketball: Sun Devils’ success in paint crucial in win

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 14: Romello White
DAYTON, OH - MARCH 14: Romello White /

ASU basketball improved its record to 7-0 with a win against Texas Southern on Saturday, and work down low was critical in the Sun Devils’ 83-71 victory.

In each of Arizona State’s first six games, the Sun Devils’ prowess in the paint was evident. It showed up once again Saturday.

A strong performance down low helped lead the Sun Devils to a 83-71 win over Texas Southern. Arizona State is now 7-0 on the young season with the victory.

Before the game, ASU led the nation in rebounds per game with 45.67. Saturday was another stellar day on the glass for the Sun Devils.

Individually, it was Romello White who led the team in boards with 14.

After leading ASU in boards a year ago with 7.1 per game, his numbers have somewhat dipped in 2018. He came into Saturday fifth on the team, averaging just 5.0 rebounds per contest.

While his statistics have lowered since a year ago, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley argued he has played with just as much heart in every game this year.

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“Even though some nights he may not have put up great numbers, he’s played great defense,” Hurley said. “He’s done all the little things; he’s really been a great guy to coach.”

But White was far from the only Sun Devil to have a prolific game on the glass. As a team, ASU outrebounded Texas Southern 48-34, and Zylan Cheatham finished close behind White with 13.

Though the Sun Devils once again dominated the boards, Hurley said there’s still room for improvement.

“They took a lot of long threes, when they missed, there were a lot of long rebounds that we didn’t secure,” Hurley said. “I think if we have a deeper rotation, that we would come up with those.”

Not only did ASU make its presence known in the rebounding margin, it also scored the majority of its points in the paint. The Sun Devils dominated Texas Southern inside, outscoring the Tigers 44-26.

White was also the team’s leader in scoring with 19 points, and nearly all of his points were scored in the paint.

But it wasn’t an easy matchup for White to win. For the Tigers, 7-foot-2 center Trayvon Reed was the key player down low.

In spite of a six-inch difference in height, White more than just held his own; he dominated.

Reed found himself in foul trouble early, and because of it, was a non-factor for the majority of the game. He fouled out with 3:54 left in the second half, finishing with just seven points and six rebounds.

“As soon as jump ball went, I really wanted to go at him,” White said. “My focus was to get him in foul trouble early so we wouldn’t have to deal with him.”

Others key contributors down low were Cheatham, Luguentz Dort and Taeshon Cherry.

On the defensive end, the Sun Devils’ dominance expanded past just the paint. Texas Southern finished the game with a dismal field-goal percentage of 35.8.

According to White, Reed’s early foul trouble keyed into this.

“I feel like they were kind of forcing shots,” White said. “Cause they usually look for Trayvon to get him started early.”

With the win, Arizona State remains undefeated with a neutral-site (Staples Center in Los Angeles) game against Nevada up next. The Wolfpack are a team unlike any the Sun Devils have faced in the first seven games, but even so, the strong beginning to the season should build momentum for the ensuing tests.

Next. ASU Basketball: White’s paint presence guides win over Texas Southern. dark

Yes, it’s still early. But what the bigs have displayed in just the first seven games could set the Sun Devils apart come conference play and the rest of the non-conference schedule.

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.