USA Basketball

United States World University Games team bounces back, blows out Norway

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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.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.