TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona State Sun Devils got a much-needed win Saturday afternoon, but they could go into Pac-12 play without a major contributor to their team.
Remy Martin scored 23 points, Alonzo Verge Jr. also scored 23 points with seven assists and Arizona State defeated Texas Southern 98-81 on Saturday. The Sun Devils (9-4) ended a two-game losing streak with 57% shooting, including 12 of 25 on 3-pointers.
The Sun Devils lost center Romello White with 12:18 left in the first half when he appeared to turn his right ankle while posting up and being screened. White fell to the floor in pain, and was attended to by trainers with coach Bobby Hurley standing nearby.
White, who had two points and a steal in eight minutes of action, was helped off the court and walked back to the locker room. His injury was announced as a sprained ankle, and he didn’t return.
Hurley said he will see how White looks over the next couple of days before providing an update on his status.
“We just had to figure out how to attack a little differently,” Hurley said of losing White. “Even though Romello will get so many points in the paint for us, I think we still had (48) points in the paint, and that was via the drive, as the defense had to respect that we were making the 3.”
John Jones led Texas Southern (3-9) with 27 points. The Tigers have lost four of their last five games.
A 10-1 run helped Texas Southern reduce a 16-point deficit to a 29-22 Arizona State lead.
Arizona State went ahead 37-22 with 4:36 to go in the first half, Verge with a layup off a touch pass from Martin necessitating a Tigers timeout. Martin smiled wide as he made the pass. He had 15 of his points in the first half.
Taeshon Cherry threw down a two-handed dunk off a long pass from Kimani Lawrence just before the halftime buzzer, and the Sun Devils led 48-33 with a season high in first-half points.
The Sun Devils took a 59-40 lead early in the second half on a 3-pointer from Verge. But Texas Southern answered with a 21-9 run to make it 68-61 with 11:32 to play. Jones hit a pair of 3s during that stretch.
“I thought we did a good job of continuing to fight,” Tigers coach Johnny Jones said. “We’ve got to be better. We have to make sure we aren’t our worst enemy. We gave them 26 points off turnovers and you can’t do that with a good basketball team.”
Back-to-back transition baskets after a Jaelen House 3-pointer effectively ended the Tigers’ upset hopes, with the Sun Devils going up 77-62 on a Verge layup. House, a freshman, hit 5 of 7 3-pointers for 20 points, tying a season high.
“We just needed to get back in our groove and get back to winning,” House said.
Texas Southern: The Tigers, picked in a preseason poll to finish second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, head back to Texas to play Texas A&M on Monday, then open conference play next Saturday against Alcorn State. Texas Southern hasn’t played at home in Houston since Dec. 7.
Arizona State: This one was a much-needed jolt of confidence for the Sun Devils going into the Pac-12 season, after two straight losses. But it was overshadowed by the injury to White, who had been averaging 14.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game in his previous six. If White misses extended time, Hurley could turn to more minutes for 6-foot-7 senior Mickey Mitchell and 6-9 junior transfer Khalid Thomas in the post.
Mitchell played 26 minutes, by far a season high. “I had to work through some pick-and-roll, but that’s just me getting adjusted to playing the ‘5,’” Mitchell said.
Martin went down the lane and skied for a tip-in of a missed shot by Mitchell with 16:58 to go in the second half. Later, on a fastbreak, House delivered a bounce pass to Verge, whose wraparound pass found Lawrence for a layup.
Hurley said the nonconference season, which ended Saturday for the Sun Devils, was a tough test. “It was good to finish like we did, and hopefully that will give our guys some confidence,” Hurley said. “9-4 is fairly respectable based on who we played and where we traveled. Now we get to move on to the next chapter of the season.”
Texas Southern plays at Texas A&M Monday night. The Aggies (5-5) haven’t played since a Dec. 21 win over Oregon State.
Arizona State starts conference play next Saturday against No. 24 Arizona in Tucson.
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