LOS ANGELES (AP) — Arizona State repelled every threat St. John’s posed.
Romello White scored 22 points and the 17th-ranked Sun Devils won 82-70 on Friday night in the opener of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tripleheader at Staples Center.
Shannon Evans II added 18 points for the Sun Devils (8-0), off to their best start since the 1974-75 season.
“It was pretty challenging because every shot I put up they challenged it,” White said.
St. John’s rallied from a 13-point deficit early in the second half to trail 71-70 on a layup by Shamorie Ponds after he stole the ball from White.
After Remy Martin missed a layup for the Sun Devils, Bryan Trimble Jr. threw the ball away near the Red Storm’s bench and they never got any closer.
“Romello White was just the difference,” said Marvin Clark II, who had 18 points for St. John’s.
Kodi Justice hit a three-pointer for Arizona State, launching a game-ending 11-0 run. The Sun Devils made 23 of 27 free throws in the game, including their last eight in a row.
“Kodi’s 3 was huge, a momentum shot,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said. “He’s got a knack for making big shots and he wants the moment.”
Ponds scored 19 points and Tariq Owens had 17 points for the Red Storm (8-2), who had their three-game winning streak ended.
“They came out really hot,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “We maintained our composure and got back in the game. On the flip side, we tried to put them in the post a lot, we tried to make them guard us.”
ASU made nine three-pointers, with Vitaliy Shibel, Evans and Justice hitting three each. Shibel, who fouled out, was 3 of 17 from long range coming in.
“I do think we’re an entertaining team to watch,” Hurley said. “We play on instinct and don’t walk the ball up the court. It’s a fun team to coach because they’re playmakers.”
St. John’s led 19-18 — its only lead of the game — when the Sun Devils closed the first half on a 28-15 run to lead 46-34. Justice scored 10 points, including two three-pointers, and Evans added seven in the spurt.
HOLDER HELD DOWN
Tra Holder, ASU’s leading scorer at 22.1 points, was held to seven points on 2-of-12 shooting.
STARS IN HIS EYES
Clark relished the chance to play on the Lakers’ court. The Laker Girls provided the in-game entertainment. “I’m a kid from the Midwest, from Kansas City, Missouri, so to get to come to L.A. and play at Staples Center is a blessing in itself,” he said.
THE LAST TIME
The schools were meeting for just the second time. The first was on Nov. 27, 2010, in the Great Alaska Shootout title game, where St. John’s rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat ASU 67-58. The Red Storm were coached by Steve Lavin, who announced Friday’s game for the Pac-12 Network.
Former St. John stars Metta World Peace and Mark Jackson sat together courtside. World Peace wore a St. John’s jacket. He played for the Red Storm from 1997-99 when he was known as Ron Artest. Jackson, who played from 1983-87, was a teammate with Mullin for one season. Before the second half started, Mullin crossed the court and hugged Jackson. Jackson greeted Ralph Sampson and Jamaal Wilkes during a timeout in the second game.
During St. John’s winning streak, the Red Storm held opponents to 52.7 points and forced 22.3 turnovers. The Sun Devils committed 14 turnovers, but fell short of their 92.7-point scoring average, which ranked fifth nationally.
St. John’s: The Red Storm host Iona on Dec. 17, their first home game in two weeks.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have a quick turnaround, playing at No. 2 Kansas on Sunday.