USA falls to Australia at World University Games, 93-84

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After winning each of its first three games at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia by double digits, the United States ran into significant resistance in the form of Australia on Thursday.

Armed with five players who have experience on Australia’s senior men’s national team, the Australians won by the final score of 93-84 with two names that should be familiar to college basketball fans sticking out.

Cameron Bairstow, who will be a senior at New Mexico next season, accounted for 22 points (11-for-18 FG), nine rebounds and five assists while Ryan Broekhoff (who just completed his career at Valparaiso) added 12 points and ten rebounds for Australia (3-1). Ultimately, however, it would be Jason Cadee who proved to be the difference for the Aussies.

Cadee scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, which helped Australia erase a five-point deficit (64-59) on their way to moving into a tie for second place in group play.

“We had the five-point lead as we entered the fourth quarter and then I think we just struggled defensively,” United States head coach Bob McKillop said. “We struggled to defend screens, we struggled to limit them to one shot, we struggled to contain penetration and the struggle on the defensive end carried forward on the offensive end where we rushed things too much because we became in a hurry to score rather than stay within the framework of the system.”

Creighton’s Doug McDermott led the Americans with 22 points, and Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie added 14. Also in double figures for the United States were Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, who scored ten points apiece. Neither BYU’s Tyler Haws nor New Mexico’s Alex Kirk saw action in Thursday’s game.

Next up for coach McKillop’s team is their group finale against Canada (4-0) on Friday, with the United States needing a win by ten points or more to reach the medal round if there’s a three-way tie for first. If there’s a three-way tie, the recipients of the two medal round spots is determined by point differential in the games between the three teams.

Australia takes on the United Arab Emirates (the United States beat them 140-46 in the opener), so a three-way tie is likely a safe bet.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.