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Oregon Basketball

Oregon MBB Beats Florida A&M 87-66

December 9, 2020

Oregon got off to a bit of a slow start in this one and trailed 9-10 with just over 15 minutes left in the first half. A couple of turnovers and a pair of offensive fouls cost Oregon some early possessions. Chris Duarte was able to get on the board with a couple of buckets and Chandler Lawson hit a 3 to spark the Oregon offense. Something of note is Jalen Terry checked in after just a couple of minutes. 

Duarte hit a big 3 and Oregon was able to get a couple of buckets inside the paint. They had 3 offensive fouls and 3 turnovers through the first 8 minutes of this one. Oregon was having success scoring but just couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot at times. Oregon led 16-14 with just under 12 minutes left.

Things started clicking on offense and Oregon quickly grew their lead to 29-19 with just over 8 minutes left in the half. N’faly Dante was having his best game of the season with a quick 10 points and 2 rebounds. He was dominating the paint and the Rattlers really didn’t have an answer for him early.

Eric Williams Jr. had a nice stretch where he was able to score some tough buckets around the rim. Dante continued to build on his hot start and had 14 points with just over 2 minutes left in the half. The 14 points was his career high in a game.

Oregon took a 47-35 lead into halftime. Dante led the team in scoring with 14 points while Duarte was close behind with 12.

Oregon was able to take advantage of the 11 Rattlers turnovers and scored 14 points off of those. Oregon shot 56 percent from the field and held Florida A&M to 55 percent shooting. Neither team was able to get hot from deep with Oregon making 3 3’s compared to their 2. 

Eugene Omoruyi got off to a slow start but was able to get things going and scored 8 points down the stretch. For not having a huge impact on the game to start it was impressive to see him finally get things going late in the half.

Oregon’s true point guards Jalen Terry and Amari Hardy both were held scoreless to start.

Oregon was trapping a lot on defense in the half court and while it maybe wasn’t the greatest strategy against the Rattlers, it may be more of a long term plan for Altman. It gets these guys some experience doing that instead of trying it against higher level of competition once the Pac-12 season starts.

Oregon opened the 2nd half on a quick 13-2 run after forcing a couple of turnovers and getting some easy buckets in the paint. Williams Jr had a great inbounds steal and a wide opened dunk and on the following possession Dante was wide open for a dunk as well. Oregon came out with a ton of energy and the Rattlers were rattled.

The offense stalled a bit for Oregon with their only basket in the next few minutes coming from Duarte. Oregon allowed a couple of shots to the Rattlers but eventually turned it up on defense. It was a rough stretch for both teams. Oregon led 63-49 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

Duarte and Williams had a nice stretch and both guys were able to knock down a handful of shots. Dante continued to have a strong game and was able to knock down a few more shots and keep his perfect field goal percentage in tact. Oregon led 75-53 with just under 8 minutes left.

Oregon started to really pick things up on offense and had a handful of guys score. Dante fouled out unfortunately but he was able to end his night with 22 points and 5 rebounds. It was an incredible performance from the sophomore. Oregon led 85-62 with just under 4 minutes left in the game.

Oregon was able to close out the game 87-66.

Oregon finished the game shooting 60 percent from the field and holding the Rattlers to just 42 percent. Oregon shot 6-23 from deep and the Rattlers shot 3-15 from deep. Oregon had 16 turnovers and the Rattlers had 19. Both teams had 32 rebounds. 

N’faly Dante was the star of the game tonight and finished the game with 22 points on 10-10 shooting from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line. He set his career high in points in the 1st half and easily had his best game in his Oregon career.

He’s the kind of player that can push this Oregon team from being good to being a great team. There’s just not too many players that are his size and are capable of scoring the way he does. Now to be fair he wasn’t going up against the best post players tonight, but it was still encouraging to see him look confident on the court and finish with perfect accuracy around the court. If he’s able to keep things rolling he could dominate in the Pac-12.

Chris Duarte led the team in scoring and finished with 23 points on an efficient 10-14 from the field. While Dante was the star, Duarte quietly had himself a fantastic game. He’s such a force on defense and was giving the Rattlers problems all night. It’s nice to know that Duarte has quickly returned to form this year.

Eugene Omoruyi finally didn’t lead the team in scoring, but had an impressive stretch scoring the basketball at the end of the first half. He ended the game with 13 points on 6-14 from the field, but he was facing consistent double teams for most of the night whenever he touched the ball. Clearly the Rattlers weren’t going to let Omoruyi beat them tonight.

Overall, it was an impressive performance from the Oregon team and it was definitely an encouraging sign heading into the game against Washington on Saturday. This team surely has the talent to win a lot of games in the Pac-12 even without Will Richardson. It’ll remain to be seen who can be that consistent scorer outside of Omoruyi and Duarte, but you leave tonight’s game with a good feeling about the direction of this team.

What went right vs what went wrong by Kirby Hammer

Schools schedule games against teams like Florida A&M for a reason, a confidence boost before heading into conference play, and to no one’s surprise they defeated the Rattlers handily. 87-66 Ducks was the final score from Matthew Knight, giving the Ducks a boost before heading to Seattle to face Washington this Saturday. This was an impressive game for Oregon, and while a lot more went right than went wrong, no one’s perfect. But let’s talk about what went right first.

What Went Right

The Ducks Adjusted

The Ducks came out slow, getting manhandled by Florida A&M’s driving guards and found themselves down early. N’faly Dante particularly had trouble early on knowing who to shadow on Oregon’s full-court press and occasionally allowing a transition layup. This is in the “What Went Right” section for a reason though, as Oregon quickly adjusted to this and compacted their wing defenders on drives to help slow down the Rattler guards and forcing their wing shooters to hit their shots. That is, if the pass ever got there, as the Ducks did well to disrupt kick-out passes after stifling their drive and forcing turnovers. This went a long way to stop the early bleeding and get their fast-break offense into rhythm for the rest of the game. 

Duarte’s Energy Stopped the Rattlers in Their Tracks

Oregon’s team energy from tipoff needs some work this season, but the same can’t be said for Guard Chris Duarte. He showed tonight that he’s a true two-way player, moving his feet incredibly well, poking at the guard’s dribble, disrupting passes in the lane, and just overall being a pest. Florida A&M came to Eugene painfully aware that they were pegged as 29-point underdogs, and that was gonna do one of two things to Oregon’s players, relax them and let the Rattlers catch them off guard, or motivate them to show why they were so favored. Duarte chose the latter option, tonight. You have to feel for the Rattlers guard tasked with bringing the ball up tonight as Duarte didn’t let them go anywhere easily, and he very effectively stopped A&M from gaining any confidence going forward the rest of the game.

N’Faly Shows Out

After joining the team in early December of last season, the former five-star prospect out of Kansas had high expectations, but after hurting his knee in January, the focus turned to his performance next season. Well it’s next season now, and Dante hadn’t quite reached the expectations set for him in the first three games of the season. He came into tonight’s game against Florida A&M only averaging 3.7 PPG, and 5.3 RPG, and it left Duck fans waiting for his “coming out” game. That was tonight, setting a new career-high for points in the first half alone with 14. The Rattlers simply didn’t have the height to match Dante’s 6’11 frame, leading to Dante smartly looking for openings around the rim after the Rattlers would double team a driving Duarte or Hardy. It worked, as he not only quickly broke his career-high, but did it efficiently, finishing the game with 22 points on 10-10 shooting. He also did well to keep possessions alive for Oregon, using his height to bring down offensive rebounds and getting the Ducks a second-chance on offense. He still has work to do on how to effectively score against better competition, but we could very likely see this game be a turning point for his confidence in the paint going forward.


What Went Wrong

Need to Lock in Earlier

If I were writing this after only seeing the first five minutes of the first half, I’d be very disappointed in the Ducks’ energy, and would continue to preach that they have to find something to motivate them more pregame. However, this game was not at all defined by its first five minutes, and I wouldn’t be doing Oregon justice if I didn’t acknowledge that. The Ducks did a great job finding their drive halfway through the first half, and it helped them seal this win. The 0-2 Florida A&M Rattlers are not a team that’s going to beat you in the first five minutes, but Oregon has and will face teams this season that have that potential in spades. The same thing happened against Mizzou in their season opener, they didn’t come out with energy, and it forced them to start the game down early. Mizzou was a good enough team to hold onto the lead for the rest of the game, and it ended in a loss for Oregon. Have no doubt about it, Oregon is going to face teams this season that won’t let you get the lead back if you come out with no energy against them, and it’s the number one priority going forward in the season if they want to compete. On Saturday they’ll play UW in their first PAC-12 game of the season, and I’ll be looking out for their energy from tipoff. If they come out strong, I like their chances to make big strides this season, but if they don’t, it’s hard to believe any recurring issues this season will be fixed, and you don’t win conference championships without acknowledging and fixing issues along the way. 


Omoruyi Needs to Accept What Comes with a Leading Role

Eugene Omoruyi has had a great first season with the Ducks, leading the team in scoring coming into tonight’s game. In my piece following the season opener I talked about the Ducks finding their go-to scorer in Omoruyi, and while that hasn’t changed, what has changed is opposing teams’ awareness of that fact. The Rattlers doubled or even triple-teamed Omoruyi almost every time he was in the post. This is to be expected for a team’s scoring leader who excels down-low, and it’s not necessarily a negative for Oregon’s ability to score. Duarte is a great second scoring option to Omoruyi, and it showed tonight in his impressive 23-point performance. What does need to be practiced is Omoruyi’s ability to deal with the inevitable double-teams he’s going to see this season. If he can’t effectively find the man left open by the double like he struggled with tonight, teams are only going to continue to push him and it’s going to work. He’s a smart player, and Dana Altman is a smart coach, so I don’t doubt they’ll notice it and figure it together before it becomes a problem, but nonetheless it showed tonight. It’s worth mentioning that this is a small issue, and it’s indicative of Oregon’s impressive play tonight that something this small is one of my two issues with how they played. Everything seems to be coming together for Oregon, and should they continue at this rate, plus getting Will Richardson back down the road, they’re going to be the team to beat in the PAC-12, only rivaled by USC.


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