The men’s basketball team only had 8 scholarship players available tonight when they faced the Florida A&M Rattlers in Tallahassee. The Ducks needed all 8, and a few minutes from walk on James Cooper, to triumph 67-54.
With notable “big guys” N’Faly Dante and Nate Bittle unavailable, Oregon was out rebounded in the first half. The team’s offensive decision making and accuracy were off as well. The Ducks only made a single field goal in the final 9:11 before halftime. A few free throws during the offensive drought allowed Oregon to go into the half with a 28-27 lead over their SWAC hosts.
The Ducks finally broke the game open in an unusual manner after Florida A&M had closed to the score to 39-36. A three point shot from Jadrian Tracey drew a foul and a chance for a four point play. Though the free throw was missed, Oregon got the rebound and Brennan Rigsby sank another three point shot, extending the lead to 45-36. Florida A&M never got closer than 8 points the rest of the way. The Ducks used a strong rebounding performance in the second half to help ice the game. Oregon also had 36 free throw opportunities to only 13 for the Rattlers, though they shot a disappointing 61% from the charity stripe.
Without their stars, the Ducks relied on a balanced offensive attack. Four players scored in double digits led by Jesse Zarzuela with 14. Tracey and Mahamadou Diawara led the team in rebounds with 6 apiece. For all of Oregon’s offensive struggles, their defense held the Rattlers to less than 38% from the field and only 4-10 from beyond the arc.
Next up for Men’s basketball is Santa Clara to open the Emerald Coast Classic this Friday at 6:30pm PST.