EUGENE, Ore. (AP)N’Faly Dante had 16 points and 10 rebounds as No. 21 Oregon opened with an 80-45 victory Monday night over Florida A&M.
Keeshawn Barthelemy added 13 points for the Ducks, ranked to begin the season for the ninth straight year.
Dante, guard Will Richardson and forward Quincy Guerrier are all returning starters for the Ducks, who finished last season 20-15 overall.
”I feel great. Since I’ve been at Oregon, I haven’t had a summer to work out with the team and practice with the team,” said Dante, hampered by injuries in 2020-21 and at the start of last season. ”I was glad to have that, and glad to have a team that trusts me and picks me up every single day when I’m down. It feels great.”
It was Dante’s fifth career double-double. He also made four steals.
Richardson led Oregon with 14.1 points and 3.6 assists last season. He flirted with going pro but withdrew his name from the NBA draft in early June to instead use an extra year of eligibility with the Ducks this season. He had 11 points in the opener.
Jordan Tillmon and Jordan Chatman scored eight points apiece for the Rattlers, who lost seven top players from last season when they went 13-17 overall. Florida A&M has 11 new players, including junior college transfers Tillmon, Byron Smith and Jaylen Bates.
Oregon began to pull away midway through the first half. Dante hit a pair of layups and junior college transfer Tyrone Williams added another to put the Ducks up 27-13.
Hantz Louis-Jeune got the Rattlers within 33-26 on a 3-pointer with 1:42 left in the half, but the Ducks led 36-26 at the break.
Dante’s dunk put Oregon up 43-31 with just over 16 minutes left. Barthelemy’s 3-pointer extended the lead to 54-35, and Oregon rolled to the win.
Barthelemy transferred from Colorado.
”We didn’t have as many communication mistakes as we’ve had in our two scrimmages before tonight,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. ”So I was pleased with the rebounds. Pleased with the defense, especially in the second half, but Cal-Irvine on Friday will be really good, Montana State is an NCAA Tournament team. Obviously, Houston in 10-11 days will be really tough. We’ve got a lot of work to do to be ready for those folks.”
The game was part of the Pac-12’s basketball partnership with the Southwestern Athletic Conference that debuts this season. The Legacy Series between the two conferences seeks to foster competition and education around issues of anti-racism and social justice. Oregon’s game against Florida A&M, among the HBCUs in the SWAC, was the first of 12 men’s and women’s Legacy Series games for Pac-12 teams this season.
Florida A&M: Rattlers coach Robert McCullum was on Altman’s staff from 2014-17. … Florida A&M visits eight Power Five teams on its non-conference schedule, including Oregon State, Miami, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, Kentucky and Purdue. The team plays 11 of its 13 non-conference games on the road.
Oregon: Opened the season without guard Jermaine Couisnard, who had lower body surgery last week. A transfer from South Carolina, he averaged 12 points and 3.2 assists last season. … Oregon also won the previous three meetings with Florida A&M. The Ducks will visit Florida A&M in Tallahassee next season.
Florida A&M: Plays at Portland on Wednesday.
Oregon: Will host UC Irvine on Friday.
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