Class of 2015 center Diamond Stone had a dominant performance on Friday as the 6-foot-10 Wisconsin native helped power the United States U17 team to an 83-73 win over Greece in the opener for both teams in the FIBA U17 World Championships. Team USA is the two-time defending champion in the event and is off to a strong start in Dubai after beating a tough opponent in the opener.
Stone had 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the first half to finish with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the game as the USA jumped out to a 45-37 halftime lead and held on from there. Class of 2015 guard Malik Newman also added 13 points for Team USA as the Americans shot 27-for-46 from two-point range, 4-for-16 from three-point range and 17-for-21 from the free-throw line for the game.
Class of 2016 wing Jayson Tatum also added 10 points after battling first-half foul trouble and fellow 2016 wing Josh Jackson added nine points, including two electric tip slams on back-to-back plays in the second half.
Greece fought the Americans hard and stayed within eight to 14 points for much of the game as 7-foot-1 center Giorgios Papagiannis — a former top 50 Class of 2015 prospect before going back to Europe to go pro — and 6-foot-8 lefty wing Vasileios Charalampopulos both finished in double-figures with 16 points and 17 points, respectively. But Greece could never seem to get over-the-hump and make a legitimate run at the American lead.
As is the case with many American international teams, substitutions for fresh bodies came frequently and Team USA also often utilized a full-court press or 1-2-1-1 press to pressure the Greek offense.
While Team USA knocked off a pretty good opponent in the opener, it does appear that they’re missing a point guard on this team that can properly facilitate and help get guys open looks. Newman is a solid passer, but he is more of a natural scorer and handling the point out of necessity in the starting lineup.
It’s also worth noting that Class of 2015 top-five player Ivan Rabb did not see any minutes in this game as he continues to battle an ankle injury suffered during tryouts.
Team USA will face Angola in its next game at 8:30 a.m. EST on Saturday morning. You can view the full schedule for Team USA and the roster for the U17 team here.
Here is the box score for Team USA:
No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.
Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.
Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.
On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.
Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.