ASU basketball looks to claim first top-ten win of the season as it faces off with the No. 5 Oregon and No. 10 Oregon St.
This weekend could feature a make or break road trip for coach Charli Turner Thorne and her group.
After dropping two of their first five conference games to start the year, the Sun Devils face the risk of coming back home next week with a 3-4 conference record.
“To be honest we just want to play really good basketball. We took a shift to that last weekend, second half of Stanford and the Cal game,” said Turner Thorne. “We aren’t necessarily unbeaten, but we want to be unbreakable.”
The Sun Devils (12-4, 3-2 Pac-12) will need to be near-perfect on their two-game road trip squaring off with two of the top teams in the Pac-12.
First up for ASU features a matchup with their third top-five opponent this season: the Oregon Ducks.
“On tape they are the best team we will have played this season. Looking at their offensive firepower, combined with their defense and everything they do,” said Turner Thorne. “They are averaging 86 points a game in the Pac-12. That doesn’t happen.”
And after Friday’s game, ASU faces perhaps the toughest of back-to-backs taking on the Oregon State Beavers.
“We’ve always been a program where nothing gives, we’re going to guard everything you have, but they make that very hard,” said Turner Thorne. “I think that’s the best backcourt in the country.”
What we can expect: The Ducks (15-1, 4-0 Pac-12) are currently ranked fifth in the country and haven’t lost a home game this year. The team features five starters all averaging double-digit scoring this season and one of the best players in the country in Sabrina Ionescu.
Ionescu has recorded five triple-doubles this season, a mark that leads the nation and leads the team in scoring (19.3 PPG). Oregon is coming off a week where it swept both USC and UCLA on the road and remains perfect in Pac-12 play.
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Key Stat: 61.0 is the number of points per game the Ducks are giving to opponents this season. The even more terrifying side to this is the 91.1 points per game Oregon is averaging, which balances out to a plus-30 scoring margin for the Ducks.
The Ducks are currently tied for the top scoring team in the nation and have held their opponents to 38.7 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from deep. This will makes things very difficult for the Sun Devils, who have struggled mightily to shoot in games against top-ranked opponents and will need to limit Oregon’s high powered offense.
X-Factor: Free throws. Although some teams struggle at the line, that’s a very different case for the Ducks. On the season, Oregon is shooting 79.6 percent at the free throw line, which is ranked second in the NCAA. The Ducks on average get to the line 13.4 times a game and have made opponents pay for sending them there at such a high rate. After surrendering nearly 12 made free throws a game this season, ASU will need to lock down on not sending Oregon to the line.
Oregon St. Beavers
What we can expect: The Beavers (14-2, 4-0 Pac-12) currently sit at third in the Pac-12, and are one of only three teams still perfect in conference play. Oregon State ranks top-10 in both field goal percentage defense and team field goal percentage and feature star guard Destiny Slocum, who was named to the Wooden Award Midseason 25 for women’s college basketball.
Slocum, a 5-foot-7 guard from Meridian, Idaho was a redshirt sophomore for the Beavers last season after transferring from Maryland her freshman season. And like Oregon, the Beavers finished last weekend with a sweep of UCLA and USC, marking only the third time in program history (2001 and 2015) the team has done that.
Key Stat: 57.1: The shooting percentage from the field and from three for guard Mikayla Pivec. Although Slocum leads Oregon State in scoring this season, Pivec nearly averages the same with 14.8 points per game.
The incredible thing being Pivec has a nearly 10 percent better shooting average than Slocum and isn’t afraid to shoot from deep when she has open looks. Add on the 8.5 rebounds a game the junior records and you’ve got one of the best backcourts in the nation.
X-Factor: Outside shooting: One of the few places where the Sun Devils have struggled at times defensively with has been with defending the perimeter. But this is one team where an opponent must be on their game when guarding the three.
Oregon State currently leads the nation in three-point percentage (43.3 percent) and average over 10 makes a game. All five of the team’s highest scorers shoot better than 44 percent from deep and have shredded teams who double up the paint or let the Beavers shoot from three.
The Sun Devils kick off the weekend taking on Oregon Friday night at 7 p.m. MT. and Oregon State Sunday at 3 p.m. MT. Both games can be seen on Pac-12 Network.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.