The Oregon men’s basketball team has been devastated by injuries during the early portion of the 2023-24 season.
But despite missing multiple starters on Monday, the Ducks battled their way to a 67-54 win over Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla as part of the Pac-12/SWAC Legacy Series. With the victory, they improved to 4-0 on the year.
Jesse Zarzuela scored 14 points and was one of four Oregon players who scored in double figures. Jadrian Tracey scored 13, Jermaine Couisnard scored 11, and Keesahwn Barthelemy scored 10 for a balanced Ducks’ scoring attack.
“Without Dante and Nate, a little confidence goes,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “… So we lost a little bit of that confidence there, of getting it into them and playing from there. But I like the way the guys responded. We were able to finish the game.”
The Ducks struggled offensively throughout the first half and were just 7-of-21 from the field as they entered halftime with a 28-27 lead.
But they found their footing early in the second half and received a big boost from Tracey, who drained a three-pointer shortly after the break to help Oregon open the second half on a 9-2 run.
The Ducks went 12-for-22 (55%) from the field in the second half, and 5-for-12 (42%) from three-point range.
“Our guys were playing hard, we just made a lot of bad decisions offensively in the first half,” Altman said. “But we played hard; I’ve got no complaints with how hard we played. We were down on the boards at the half, came back, and ended up a positive. … We just didn’t make many shots.”
Oregon will be in action again on Friday when it kicks off play at the Emerald Coast Classic in Florida against Santa Clara. The game is slated for a 6:30 p.m. PT tip-off. Then, on Saturday, the Ducks will face the winner of Friday’s showdown between Alabama and Ohio State at a time that is yet to be decided.
The Ducks are expected to be without Bittle once again on Friday. The standout junior injured his wrist during last Friday’s win over Tennessee State and Altman didn’t have an update on his status immediately after the game.
Dante visited a specialist in Chicago on Monday in order to address a knee issue that kept him sidelined throughout the preseason.
While speaking with reporters last Friday, Altman did not rule out Dante potentially joining the team later this week for the Emerald Coast Classic.