Kansas/USA advances to World University Games semifinals

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Late in the third quarter of the Kansas/USA team’s World University Games quarterfinal matchup with Lithuania, Bill Self’s team led by just one point (43-42) and appeared to be locked in a struggle similar to that of their one-point win over Serbia in group play. However that would not be the case, as the Americans clamped down defensively and Lithuania could not hit a shot.

A 15-0 run established the distance needed to put the game away, with Self’s team going on to win by a final score of 70-48. After scoring eight points in the third quarter the Americans outscore Lithuania 25-6 in the fourth, with Frank Mason III leading a balanced offensive effort with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Joining Mason in double figures were Wayne Selden Jr. (13 points, five rebounds) and Perry Ellis (11 points, six rebounds), with SMU’s Nic Moore adding nine points and six assists. Kansas received solid efforts from big men Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson as well, with the latter making the start at the center position. Lucas contributed seven points and nine rebounds, with Mickelson adding six points and four rebounds and freshman Carlton Bragg grabbing five rebounds during his time on the floor.

Paulius Dambrauskas, who scored 12 points and was a difficult matchup for the Americans in the first half, led Lithuania with 18 points but did not score again until just past the halfway point of the fourth quarter. Also of note on the Lithuanian team was Evansville rising senior forward Egidijus Mockevicius, who had a quiet night after rolling his right ankle chasing down a rebound just over a minute into the game.

Mockevicius, who has led the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding each of the last two years and was a first team all-conference selection in 2014-15, finished the game with two points and five rebounds. As a team Lithuania shot just 27 percent from the field, with their percentage plummeting after they made seven of their 13 shots from the field in the first quarter.

Next up for the United States, which has reached the semifinals of the World University Games for the first time since 2009, will be either Russia or Estonia. That 2009 team, coached by Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, won the bronze medal.