The No. 5 Oregon women’s basketball team made its first Pac-12 road trip of the season look pretty easy.
The Ducks (15-1, 4-0) swept USC and UCLA by a combined 60 points while mingling with Kobe Bryant and other celebrities in Los Angeles.
Coach Kelly Graves is expecting more resistance when the defending conference champions host No. 19 Arizona State on Friday at Matthew Knight Arena (6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
The Sun Devils (12-4, 3-2) will be facing a top-five team for the third time this season after nearly pulling off upsets of then-No. 4 Baylor (lost 65-59) and then-No. 5 Louisville (58-56).
Arizona State also lost 62-55 to No. 6 Stanford last weekend in Tempe, Ariz.
“They’re a better offensive team than I think they’ve been in the past, a lot more 3-point weapons, great distribution of scoring,” Graves said. “But they’re the same in that they’re going to play you really tough, they’re physical, they rely on their defense, they’re hard-nosed and they make you work for everything.”
Oregon leads the nation in scoring (91.1 ppg), field-goal percentage (52.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.85). Arizona State ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing 55.7 points per game.
The Ducks made Graves happy by outrebounding UCLA 47-29 during last Sunday’s 72-52 win.
Junior forward Ruthy Hebard led the way against the Bruins with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Sophomore forward Satou Sabally is averaging a team-high 22.3 points on 47.8 percent shooting and 9.3 rebounds in Pac-12 play.
“Of course our offense has been clicking really well. I think Satou is playing really well right now, so that’s good to see,” said Hebard, who is second nationally in field-goal percentage (69.8). “Our defense is doing better every game. USC and UCLA are both really fast, and I think we’re not that fastest team of course, but our defense has been working. We’re talking great, so that’s really cool for us.”
Senior forward Kianna Ibis averages a team-high 16.2 points, but six different players have led the Sun Devils in scoring this season.
“They’re definitely very physical and tough. We’re going to have to play through that,” Hebard said. “They like to double team, face guard, so we have to be mentally tough this game for sure.”
Oregon swept the series last season, but Arizona State has won 27 of the 34 meetings since the 2000-01 season under coach Charli Turner Thorne.
Graves said his team enjoys the challenge and the routine of the Pac-12 regular-season grind, which includes a light workload early in the week, an intense practice on Wednesday and detailed scouting reports of opponents on Thursdays and Saturdays.
“This is a veteran team for the most part and they’re very serious about their goals and what lays ahead of them,” Graves said. “It’s worked.”
Even junior guard Sabrina Ionescu, who leads the team in scoring (19.3 ppg) and the nation in assists (8.7 apg), was impressed with the way the Ducks handled their business last weekend.
Oregon dismantled USC, 93-53, with Bryant and his daughters watching last Friday.
“I think that just speaks about who we are and how serious we’re taking it this year,” Ionescu said. “We’re playing to the best of our ability and we’re trying to get better every game, regardless of who we’re playing against or where we are.
“We’re just going to keep fighting to get better and better each game.”