Struggling Florida A&M hopes to turn tide at busy Oregon

NCAA

The Oregon Ducks host Florida A&M on Wednesday, their fourth game in a week after starting the season a week later than expected because of COVID-19.

LJ Figueroa, a St. John’s transfer who received immediate eligibility from the NCAA last Thursday, has provided a boost for the Ducks (2-1). He is coming off a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) in Oregon’s 69-52 win over visiting Eastern Washington on Monday.

“I call it 2020 — the whole year has just been, you got to be ready for anything,” Figueroa said. “Coach always telling me every day, ‘Stay ready.’ I stayed ready. My name was called. I was finally cleared. My teammates were happy, and I was very energetic and ready to play.”

Eric Williams Jr. also had a double-double (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Eugene Omoruyi, the Pac-12 Player of the Week, scored a game-high 18 points.

The Ducks committed 14 turnovers against Eastern Washington and went to the free-throw line only eight times, making five.

“I told the guys I didn’t expect it to be perfect, but we’ve got to make improvements,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces out there.”

The game had been postponed from a Nov. 25 opener after two Eastern Washington had two players positive COVID-19 cases.

Florida A&M (0-2) scheduled its game with Oregon on Monday after the Rattlers canceled games last week at South Florida and Nebraska because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

The Rattlers’ last game was an 85-75 loss at Georgia on Nov. 29.

Coach Robert McCullum returns all of his starters and the program is eligible for the postseason for the first time in two years coming off an NCAA probation.

“If you look at guys, their first year away from home, first year at college, they had various expectations, some of them socially,” McCullum said. “What about our returning guys? The seniors? This is their last year here. My hat’s off. I really commend them for the maturity that they’ve shown, to say, ‘Hey, if this is what we have to do to play, we’re going to do it.'”

MJ Randolph leads Florida A&M in scoring (14.5 points a game) and rebounding (7.5) while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and producing six steals in its two games.

–Field Level Media

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