Malik Newman (Getty Images)

Team effort pushes United States into U17 World Championships final

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After steamrolling China in the quarterfinals of the FIBA U17 World Championships on Thursday, the United States figured to be in for a much tougher battle against Serbia in the semifinals. That proved to be the case, as the Serbians did a good job of controlling tempo and hanging around for the better part of three quarters. However the United States’ depth proved to be too much, resulting in the Americans pulling away to win by the final score of 89-68.

Malik Newman, who along with fellow guard Tyus Battle hit some big shots to help the United States establish separation, led four Americans in double figures with 15 points. Joining him in double figures were big men Diamond Stone (12 points, eight rebounds), Caleb Swanigan (11 points, eight rebounds) and Harry Giles (ten points, 12 rebounds).

Those three bigs and guard Josh Jackson (11 rebounds) led the way on the glass for the United States, which managed to rebound 44 percent of its missed shots on the afternoon. The work on the offensive glass and a 22-point edge in points in the paint (44-22) helped Don Showalter’s team make up for the fact that they were only a plus-4 in fast break points (19-15), a category the Americans had no trouble dominating in previous games against overmatched competition.

Next up for the United States is either Australia, which was the opponent for the U.S. in the last U17 World Championships in 2012, or Spain. Among the players on Australia’s roster is 2016 big man Isaac Humphries, who will attend La Lumiere Prep in Indiana this coming school year.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.