Hot Shooting Helps USA Sink New Century 88-61 In Exhibition
Aug. 11, 2011 • Huizhou, China.
After trailing by as many as eight points in the first quarter, John Jenkins (Vanderbilt/ Hendersonville, Tenn.) hit three straight 3-pointers during a 14-0 run in the second period to help propel the USA Men’s World University Games Team to an eventual 88-61 exhibition win over Chinese professional team New Century on Aug. 11 at Huizhou Stadium in Huizhou, China.
Jenkins finished 8-of-10 from 3-point for a game-high 24 points, while Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.), Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota/ St. Paul, Minn.) and Greg Mangano (Yale/Orange, Conn.) added nine points apiece.
“I thought this was a great game for our team to get ready for the World University Games,” said USA and Purdue University head mentor Matt Painter. “(New Century) presented a lot of challenges for us, especially in the first half. With their size, they did a good job of carralling us, not letting us get going. But this was a great tune-up game for us. I thought our guys did a good job of adjusting. We went through a period of time in the first half where I thought we missed some open shots, and our guys didn't get frustrated. We did our best to sub players in and out to keep everybody fresh and wear down our opponent. After John (Jenkins) got hot and made some 3-pointers and we got out in transition a little bit more, I thought our depth was really the key to our victory.”
The USA will open play in the 2011 World University Games play on Aug. 13 against Mexico at 6 p.m. (all times listed are China Standard Time, which is +12 hours from Eastern Time).
“This was a great experience for our team to come out here and play in this exhibition game in front of a crowd,” Jenkins said. “They came out strong and hit us pretty hard, and we had to battle back throughout the game. I want to thank my teammates for passing me the ball when I was open.”
The USA led 15-10 at 3:30 in the first quarter after a long ball from Jenkins, but New Century responded with a 13-0 run to take a 23-15 lead at 1:26. Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.) halted the streak with a jumper just before the period ended to cut the deficit to five points, 23-17.
The USA began to chip away at the lead from the start of the second stanza and had cut it down to two points, 24-22, with a 3-pointer from Marcus Denmon (Missouri/Kansas City, Mo.) at 7:40. The margin had returned to six points, 28-22, when two made free throws from Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.) sparked the 14-0 spurt that included three consecutive 3-pointers from Jenkins, helping the USA to build a 39-30 advantage at halftime.
“We started off slow, but once we got into a grove and found our chemistry offensively, it got better,” Gibbs said. “We started playing well. We played better on the defensive end and let that lead to offense. John (Jenkins) hit some shots to get us going, and we kept it going from there.”
New Century had an answer for each of the USA’s scores over the first few minutes of the third period, but cooled off the USA’s depth proved too much for its opponent. This time it was a 3-pointer from Johnson that ignited off a 15-2 run that practically put the game out of reach for New Century with the USA leading by 25 points, 62-37, headed into the fourth quarter.
Mangano scored all of his nine points in the final 10 minutes to help the USA seal its 88-61 exhibition victory.
Every U.S. player recorded points and grabbed at least one rebound. Scoop Jardine (Syracuse/ Philadelphia, Pa.) dished out a game-high seven assists, while Mbakwe, who was 4-of-4 from the field, and Miller each collected eight rebounds.
“That is one of my goals, to lead the tournament in assists,” Jardine said. “If I can get seven or eight assist in a night, that means we are playing well. Our guys are going to make shots, and I am going to find my teammates.”
Cuonzo Martin of the University of Tennessee and Brad Stevens of Butler University are serving as assistant coaches for the 2011 USA Men’s World University Games Team.
In all, 24 countries will compete in the international competition. The USA has been slotted into Pool D, along with Finland, Hungary, Israel, Mexico and South Korea. Following its contest against Mexico, the USA will play Hungary at 3:30 p.m. (all times listed are China Standard Time, which is +12 hours from Eastern Time) on Aug. 14; South Korea at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 15; Finland at 6 p.m. on Aug. 17; and Israel at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 to wrap up pool play.
Following the preliminary round, the top two placed teams from each pool will advance to the medal quarterfinals, which will be contested on Aug. 20. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 21, and the finals will be played on Aug. 22.