USA Defense Paves Way To 94-51 Win Over Australia In U19 World Championship Action
-- Aussies Forced Into 23 Turnovers, U.S. To Face 5-0 Serbia Wednesday --
July 2, 2013 • Prague, Czech Republic
With the full-court, non-stop USA pressure defense again paving the way, the USA U19 World Championship Team steamrolled Australia (2-3) for a 94-51 victory and another dominating win in second-round play at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Men in Prague, Czech Republic.
Owning an unblemished 5-0 record, the USA will conclude second play facing also 5-0 Serbia in 2:15 p.m. EDT game that will determine the No. 1 Group F seed for the medal round quarterfinals, for which both teams have qualified.
While the USA defense pressured, chased and hounded the Aussies into 23 turnovers, and a chilly 32.8 shooting percentage, the U.S. also again featured a balanced offensive attack that scored 26 points off of turnovers.
Five U.S. players scored in double figures, led by Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose, Calif.) who finished with 15 points and four rebounds. Montrezl Harrell (University of Louisville/Tarboro, N.C.) contributed 13 points and four boards; Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) added 12 points; Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State University/Flower Mound, Texas) had 11 points and four assists; and Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas), for the second consecutive night, earned a double-double, recording 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“I was obviously much more pleased with the way we started the game then we did against Brazil. Our guys came out with a lot more energy; certainly the difference in the game was our defense. We forced 18 turnovers in the first half, I thought we did a good job of guarding them from behind the 3-point line; we didn’t give up a lot of threes,” said USA and University of Florida mentor Billy Donovan. “In the second half I thought we came out to another good start. Really it was a good game … this was a little bit more of a complete game for us.”
Australia managed to score nine points in the game’s opening 5:24 to keep pace with the U.S., but the Aussies accounted for just 11 more points over the course of the first half’s final 14:36 as the USA took full control.
Tied 9-9 with 4:36 left in the first quarter, Winslow slammed home two to help launch the Americans on a 15-3 run that saw the first quarter come to end with the U.S. leading 24-12. Gordon tallied six quick points in the game-deciding run and Nigel Williams-Goss (Findlay Prep/Happy Valley, Ore.) added four.
USA's sprinting fast-break
“Finish,” said Gordon when asked what he was thinking when he entered the game and helped fuel the U.S. in its game-deciding run. “I was talking to coach Donovan earlier and I was telling him I need to get out of my own head and he said the one way to get out of your own head is to give relentless energy and go hard all the time and then everything else will take care of itself. So that’s what I came in and did. I just focused on giving energy to my team and playing as hard as I could.”
The U.S. kept the pedal to the medal in the second stanza as well. After opening up a 33-19 lead with 7:21 to go before half, the USA pounded in 22 consecutive points to take a 55-19 lead and blow the game wide open. Okafor and Smart were the big contributors in the devastating run, with Okafor scoring eight points and Smart adding seven.
Leading 55-20 at halftime, the U.S. outscored Australia 22-16 in the third quarter and posted a 17-15 scoring advantage in the fourth.
“Our defense,” answered Michael Frazier (University of Florida/Tampa, Fla.) when asked what fueled the USA runs. “We got up into them full court with defensive pressure; our press was very effective and we just forced turnovers the rest of the half so I think it was all defense, we made offense off our defense.”
In its first five games the USA offense is averaging 100.2 points a game, and has defeated its opponents by an average of 50.2 point per game. Holding opponents to 32.2 percent shooting, the U.S. “D” has forced opponents into 25.0 turnovers a game.
A little more then halfway through the tournament, Donovan has seen his team constantly improve.
“I think we’ve definitely gotten better and the biggest thing is dealing with the grind, the length of time of the tournament. This is a little bit different then some of these guys playing five games last year (FIBA Americas U18 Championship). We’ve already played five, play another one tomorrow, then the medal round starts so this is a little bit of a longer haul for our guys. I think our guys understand that this is a longer process when you play in a world championship.
“I think clearly they are one of the better teams here and I think our guys understand and realize this is going to be a great challenge for our team going against them,” remarked Donovan on the USA’s next opponent, Serbia. “We know we have a lot to get prepared for and we’re going against a team that has been together for awhile, plays really well together, is really good defensively and really puts you into a lot of binds defensively.”
Assisting Donovan with the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team are Tony Bennett (University of Virginia) and Shaka Smart (Virginia Commonwealth University).