In the aftermath of its loss to Canada, the United States World University Games team knew that it could finish no better than ninth at the games. In some cases, not having a medal to play for can result in a team putting forth a less than satisfactory effort.
Bob McKillop’s team had no such issues in its first consolation bracket game Sunday, as the Americans blew out Norway by the final score of 91-51. Indiana senior wing Will Sheehey led the way offensively with 16 points, while forwards Aaron White (Iowa) and Cory Jefferson (Baylor) chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds apiece.
“When you lose two in a row and are knocked out of the medal round, it’s tough to get off the mat, and these guys showed that they are capable of that today,” McKillop said after the game according to USA Basketball. “They showed it by their unselfishness and their team defense.”
Outside of VCU’s Treveon Graham, who missed the game and will sit out the remainder of the tournament after suffering a minor concussion, every United States player who saw action scored and 29 of the team’s 34 made field goals were of the assisted variety.
Among the other standouts for the U.S. on Sunday were Creighton’s Doug McDermott (ten points), Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie (team-high eight assists with no turnovers) and New Mexico big man Alex Kirk (team-high eight rebounds).
“We started having fun again, and I think that’s important because everyone was starting to hit shots and getting open dunks,” said Kirk. “That’s what’s fun, and that’s why you play basketball, to have fun with it. I think that kind of got the energy going, and then our bench came through. The second-set sparked that, so that was a lot of fun.”
Three players finished the game with at least six assists, with Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell (seven) and Louisville’s Luke Hancock (six) joining Dinwiddie. After a tight first quarter the U.S. took control, with their 64.3% shooting inside of the arc proving to be one of the keys to victory.
Next up for the U.S. is a matchup with Germany on Monday morning.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.