Short-handed Oregon faces fellow unbeaten Santa Clara


Oregon continues its trip to Florida on Friday night with a matchup against Santa Clara at the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville.

The Ducks are 4-0 despite not having center N’Faly Dante, their top player, available for the past three games due to a knee injury. In an 82-71 season-opening victory over Georgia, Dante scored 16 points and grabbed 21 rebounds.

Oregon also might be without Dante’s backup, Nate Bittle, who is averaging 13 points and six rebounds per game. Bittle injured his wrist against Tennessee State on Nov. 17 and did not play against Florida A&M on Monday.

In a 67-54 win over Florida A&M — with only eight Oregon scholarship players suited up — Jesse Zarzuela had 14 points and Jadrian Tracey added 13 as the Ducks turned a one-point halftime lead against a winless team into a comfortable victory. The Ducks are shooting 45.3 percent from the field, and they have made 38.2 percent of their 3-point attempts.

“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.”

Santa Clara (5-0) is the last remaining undefeated team in the West Coast Conference. The Broncos already have a win over another Pac-12 program, as they beat Stanford 89-77 on Nov. 14.

Carlos Marshall Jr. leads Santa Clara with per-game averages of 17.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Santa Clara defeated visiting Mississippi Valley State 81-39 on Monday as Marshall scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

“Everybody who played contributed to the cause,” Broncos coach Herb Sendek said. “We have good depth and I like our young players.”

He added, “Oregon is a tremendous program. … it’s going to be a big test for our team.”

Oregon owns an 8-7 all-time record against Santa Clara with wins in each of the past three matchups. The teams last faced off in December 2005, when the Ducks earned a 75-66 victory.

–Field Level Media

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