USA U17 Men Race To 133-81 Quarterfinal Win Over South Korea
-- 133 Points Sets New USA U17 Men’s Single-Game Scoring Record --
The 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team (5-0) advanced to the medal semifinals of the FIBA U17 World Championship by virtue of a record-setting, 133-81 victory over South Korea (3-2) on Thursday night in Zaragoza, Spain. The USA previously scored a high of 132 points against Egypt in the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship. The win advances the U.S. squad to the July 1 medal semifinals where it will play Lithuania (4-1) at 3 pm EDT. The first medal semifinal will feature Turkey (4-1) against host Spain (5-0) at 12:30 pm EDT. The bronze and gold medal games will be played July 3.
All games are being shown live online at YouTube.com/FIBA, while the remaining USA games will be live on ESPNU and ESPNEWS.
“We went out there and executed pretty well,” said Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook H.S./Mableton, Ga.), who scored 12 of his 24 points in the first half. “Everybody played unselfish. We just have to close the game out better. We started the first half and we blew them out. In the second half we just got a little lackadaisical on defense, we really weren’t rebounding and playing hard. But we still had a great team effort overall.”
In another balanced effort that saw all 12 members score by halftime, Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Riverview, Fla.) had 15 points in the first half and finished with 17, Carte'Are Gordon (Webster Groves H.S./St. Louis, Mo.) scored 16 points on 6-of-8 from the field, Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.) and Austin Wiley (Spain Park H.S./Hoover, Ala.) scored 12 apiece, while Troy Brown (Centennial H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) and Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Burnsville, Minn.) chipped in 11 points each.
“We dominated the boards, and I was really pleased with that,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball), who upped his record in five U17 World Championships to 28-0. “Our defense in the second quarter was really good, it really broke the game open. We played really solid, we changed up our defenses a little bit. We had some really good individual performances overall, from players coming off the bench to our starters. I like the way we’re coming together chemistry-wise. We’re really feeding off each other that way.”
In outrebounding South Korea 62-22, every member of the USA team grabbed at least two boards, led by Jaren Jackson Jr.’s (Park Tudor School/Carmel, Ind.) eight, Gordon and Immanuel Quickley (John Carroll School/Havre De Grace, Md.) grabbed seven each, and Carter and Knox hauled in six apiece.
The USA got off to a 4-0 spurt, but South Korea jumped ahead 5-4. After two more lead changes and one knotted score, the Asian side was in front 13-7 at 4:15.
The Americans didn’t trail for long, however. The U.S., which committed seven turnovers by that point and 11 overall in the first quarter, got a pair of free throws from Knox and Sexton put back his own miss to give the red, white and blue the lead for good, 14-13, with 3:45 to play in the first quarter. Those four points sparked a 16-4 quarter-ending run that closed with a Knox and-one and the USA on top 26-17.
In the first quarter the USA hit 52.4 percent (11-21 FGs) of its shots and outrebounded Korea 17-3, while limiting its opponents to just 36.8 percent (7-19 FGs) from the field. However, Korea outscored the USA 12-4 off of turnovers.
The second quarter, however, saw the USA outscore Korea 11-1 off turnovers as its defense continued to clamp down, offense began firing on all cylinders.
“We made better decisions,” said Showalter about his team’s second-quarter surge. “We didn’t turn the ball over like we did in the first quarter. We had 11 in the first quarter and then 4 in the second quarter. So, we really did a better job of taking care of the basketball. The other thing is that we got the ball inside where we wanted it. They could not guard our bigs and we got some easy baskets inside. We finished a lot of baskets inside, which we hadn’t done in some of the other games.”
Knox and Sexton scored four points apiece in a 8-2 run to open the second period. A South Korean field goal at 7:53 brought the score to 34-21, but the game never got closer. An 11-0 run, sparked by a Wiley put-back and an emphatic dunk by Troy Brown, virtually put the game out of reach, 45-21, with 5:36 to go before half. By the time the first half buzzer sounded, the USA was in complete control, 65-32.
The Americans hit a blistering 62.5 percent (15-24 FGs) in the second quarter and by halftime owned a 46-8 points advantage in the paint and owned the boards by an astounding 34-7 margin.
“We came out with a focus,” Jackson said. “We knew we couldn’t take them for granted, even though we feel like we are a much better team. Early on they hit some shots, they hit some 3s, but we matched that and we were able to jump out to a big lead and continue that throughout the game.”
The USA outscored Korea 31-21 in the third quarter and Sexton slammed home a dunk with 9:14 in the fourth quarter to give his team 100 points on the night. The Americans continued to cruise and closed out the night with the 52-point win.
The USA dished out its tournament-best 26 assists, seven of which came from Javonte Smart (Scotlandville H.S./Baton Rouge, La.), while Sexton passed off six.
“They were really good,” said Knox, referring to Sexton and Smart. “They did a really good job for us running the ball. They did a really good job getting the ball to the bigs inside and us out on the wings. They did a really good job.”
In the tale of the tape, the USA outscored South Korea 88-32 in the paint, 29-11 on second-chance points, and 77-23 off the bench. The U.S. finished the night shooting a red-hot 62.8 percent (54-86) from the field and 40.9 percent (9-22 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while holding Korea to 39.8 percent (33-83 FGs) and 24.1 percent (7-29 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
In today’s other medal quarterfinal games, Turkey edged previously undefeated Canada (4-1), Lithuania upset France (3-2) 73-72 in overtime and Spain pulled away late against Australia (2-3) 74-63.
In classification contests, Taiwan (1-5) downed Mali (1-5) 77-61, it took three overtimes before Argentina (1-5) clipped Egypt (1-5), Bosnia-Herzegovina (4-2) defeated Dominican Republic (1-5) 96-73 and China (3-3) finished off Finland (2-4) 77-57.
Assisting Showalter and the U17 team are prep head coaches Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.) and Miles Simon (California Supreme AAU).
Athletes eligible for this team must be 17 years old or younger (born on or after 1/1/99) and U.S. citizens.
FIBA U17 World Championship for Men
First held in 2010, the FIBA U17 World Championship features the world’s top 17-year-old and younger players. FIBA currently holds U17 World Championships every two years. Under the direction of Showalter, the USA earned the gold medal in the first three editions, compiling a perfect 23-0 record overall.
In the inaugural (2010) FIBA U17 World Championship for Men, the USA captured gold with a perfect 8-0 record and Bradley Beal was tabbed MVP. In 2012, Jahlil Okafor earned MVP honors and was joined on the all-tournament team by Justise Winslow as the U.S. again captured gold. Most recently the U.S. made it three-straight golds as Malik Newman earned tournament MVP honors and Diamond Stone listed on the all-tournament team.