After an ugly loss to Washington State on Thursday, ASU basketball rebounded with a 75-63 win over first-place Washington.
Just two days prior, Arizona State suffered maybe its worst loss under Bobby Hurley – a 91-70 loss to a subpar Washington State team. That outcome had no bearing Saturday evening.
ASU cruised to a 75-63 win over Washington, the Pac-12’s last-remaining undefeated. For the Sun Devils’ chances to reach the NCAA Tournament as an at-large, this game was paramount, as Washington entered as a Quadrant 1 opponent.
“I just thought the guys had the right focus tonight and were thinking about the right things,” Hurley said. “It was a great night.”
A game after shooting 33.8 percent from the field, the Sun Devils had no trouble finding the bottom of the net. As a team, ASU shot a sound 61.7 percent clip from the field. And that was against one of the nation’s top defenses.
Entering Saturday, Washington allowed 64.5 points per game, the best mark in the Pac-12. The Mike Hopkins-led zone defense proved stingy, time and time again.
But not against ASU.
“Naturally, their defense is going to get spread out, and they bring their wings pretty far out,” Hurley said. “If you can get it to the high post successfully, then you will be able to throw it to Romello (White).”
Despite fouling out with 2:10 left, Romello White was an offensive catalyst for ASU. The redshirt sophomore led the team in scoring with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
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This was just 48 hours after suffering a leg injury that caused him to leave the previous game.
“He was terrific considering he injured his knee (against Washington State),” Hurley said. “Really had a good game for someone that was coming back from injury.”
He was critical in Arizona State’s dominance of the paint. The Sun Devils outscored Washington 42 to 20 inside.
According to White, patience was the key.
“Just really taking our time and feeding the inside and going straight at them,” White said. “Not focused on shooting outside shots, just focused on going inside and beating them in the paint.”
Coming into the game, Arizona State was fifth in the nation in rebounds per game, averaging 42.23. Once again, the Sun Devils controlled the glass.
ASU nearly doubled Washington’s rebounding total, controlling the boards by a margin of 17. Zylan Cheatham led the team with nine rebounds, and White and Rob Edwards followed close behind with eight apiece.
After losing the rebounding margin against Washington State, this was progress.
“I think the rebounding was much-improved,” Hurley said. “We outrebounded them by 17, so that’s huge.”
For Washington, senior forward Noah Dickerson was without doubt the offensive standout. Dickerson led the Huskies in points and rebounds with 18 and eight, respectively.
However, Dickerson’s minutes were cut short due to foul trouble. In his 18 minutes, Dickerson picked up four fouls.
“Coach told me just to go to his chest and go straight up,” White said. “I feel like we did that. We attacked him hard early in the game, and it was effective.”
Though a double-digit win over a quality team is always a plus, there were some inconsistencies that carried over from the previous game.
Arizona State’s 24 turnovers were the team’s highest figure since March 20, 2013. Of Washington’s 63 points, 23 were the result of turnovers.
Free throws were once again a hindrance to an otherwise outstanding showing. From the line, the Sun Devils shot under 60 percent (11-of-19). The Sun Devils are ranked No. 10 in the Pac-12 in team free-throw percentage.
Was ASU perfect Saturday night? No.
Some of the same inconsistencies from its other losses lingered and could’ve cost the Sun Devils a meaningful win.
But overall, it was a crisp performance from Hurley and company. The offense rolled the smoothest it had in some time, and the Sun Devils’ dominance in the paint proved insurmountable.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.