As part of the Pac-12/SWAC Legacy Series, the Florida A&M Rattlers had their home opener Monday against the University of Oregon Ducks in the Al Lawson Center.
The Rattlers fell to the Ducks, 67-54.
In a game that only held 2,587 attendees of Al Lawson’s 9,639 capacity, the team knew they would have to be motivated and come out energized to keep the game competitive.
“Just us” was the phrase FAMU men’s head coach Robert McCullum said he used to motivate the team before the home opener. “As a team, we talked about control what we can control.”
The message seemed to work as the team came out firing on all cylinders. The high energy kept the game close, as the Rattlers only trailed the Ducks by one point at the 10-minute mark of the first half.
Coming off of being named SWAC Impact Player of the Week after his first three collegiate games, the Ducks seemed to concentrate much of their defensive attention toward freshman guard K’Jei Parker.
Parker eventually got free and found much of his success from mid-range pull ups and forcing fouls to get to the free throw line.
“[The scoring success] came from just getting into [the defense] more,” Parker said during the post-game conference. “Sometimes they would run me off the screen and try to jump it… Just using my teammates and coming together as a team to pretty much get past that.”
The six-foot-one inch guard played for 37 minutes, finishing tied for a game high 18 points, shooting 6-12 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. Parker also had three assists and four rebounds.
The biggest difference in the game was the 12-point differential between the two teams with free throws made.
The Ducks shot 22-36, while the Rattlers only went to the line 13 times and made 10 of them.
After the game, Coach McCullum credited the free throw discrepancy to the team’s play rather than the officiating.
“Rarely do I think it’s the officials… For the most part teams are more physical. They’re bigger and more physical, especially in the backcourt,” McCullum said. “I would attribute [the free throw difference] to those factors more than anything else. I tell the team that we have to be tougher… And I’m confident that we will.”
The Rattlers are off until Nov. 29, when they host the Albany State Rams (2-1).
“We’re gonna take the same approach that we took tonight. But we’ll try to use these games to try and give greater attention to detail and iron out some areas that we have to get better,” McCullum said.