TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State guard Alonzo Verge Jr. found his groove Wednesday.
Coach Bobby Hurley is waiting for some of his other outside shooters to follow suit.
Verge, a juco transfer, had a season-high 20 points and made his first 3-pointer — after going 0 for 13 from behind the arc to open the season — in an 88-79 victory over Prairie View A&M on Wednesday night.
“It was big relief, a big weight off my shoulders,” said Verge, who averaged 30.9 points a game at Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College last season.
“I know I can shoot the ball. My teammates did a good job of just believing in me. I’m just trying to let the game come to me.”
Remy Martin had 21 points, Romello White had 14 points and set a career high with 16 rebounds and Rob Edwards had 14 points for the Sun Devils (7-2), who have won seven of their last eight. Arizona State’s only losses are to No. 9 Virginia and No. 24 Colorado.
Darius Williams kept Prairie View in the game with a season-high 26 points and five 3-pointers off the bench.
Arizona State withstood 45.1% shooting, 5 of 17 from 3-point range, by making 37 of 51 from the free-throw line. White made 10 of 14 and Martin hit 9 of 11. The Sun Devils had not shot more free throws since taking a school-record 57 against Utah on Nov. 27, 2002.
Martin made both his 3-point attempts, but the rest of the team was 3 of 15. The Sun Devils are shooting 31.3% from 3-point range.
“We’re getting to the point where are going to be evaluating if we should take those shots, or who should be taking them,” Hurley said. “Not only did they take them, but they were open shots, wide open shots, that were not made.”
The Panthers (3-6) committed 20 turnovers and 32 personal fouls, but Arizona State could not shake them even after an 18-3 run fueled by nine points from Verge made it 72-54 with nine minutes remaining.
Devonte Patterson, who had 12 points, hit two free throws with 1:16 remaining to trim the lead to 85-78, but the Panthers were never closer.
"It was a crazy game." White said.
There were 57 fouls in the game.
“I want to keep my job. I don’t want to get fined,” Prairie View coach Byron Smith said of the free throw disparity.
“Ray Charles is dead and blind and could have seen it. There was definitely a disparity in the calls. I think the refs are fair guys. I think they called it like they saw it.”
Prairie View: Do not judge the Panthers by their early season record. Their annual preseason marathon-across-America competition lets them face quality completion and build team chemistry … and it works. The Panthers were 1-11 on 12-game road run last season before winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. They are to play at least two road games in each of the four U.S. time zones by Dec. 22.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils are the only Pac-12 team to make the NCAA tournament in each of the last two seasons, and they have a chance make it three in a row if they can find some complimentary weapons behind point guard Remy Martin, big man Romello White and wing Rob Edwards.
Prairie View will play the ninth game of an 11-game road stretch at Loyola Marymount on Friday before concluding the tour with games against Colorado and No. 22 Seton Hall.
Arizona State will play host to Georgia in the first of a competitive stretch that continues with games against Saint Mary’s and Creighton.
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