Team USA now 2-0

BY RYAN YOUNG | JULY 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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Aaron White and Team USA steamrollered its second World University Games opponent on Monday, improving to 2-0 in the preliminary round in Kazan, Russia.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott led the team with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the 96-53 win over the Czech Republic. White, who scored 16 in the first game, was held to just 2 points and 3 rebounds.

“I’m very pleased,” Team USA head coach Bob McKillop said in a release from USA Basketball. “I see the development of the players trusting the system, the coaches understanding the talents of the players and the evolving teamwork that is a result of that. There are great opportunities for leadership out there for individuals; I think this is a very profitable experience every time they step on the floor with us.”

USA shot 42.7 percent from the field and missed just three shots from the line, 14-of-17. The team also held a 62-29 rebounding advantage.

USA jumped to an early 12-4 lead early in the first quarter and never relinquished the lead.

Virginia Commonwealth’s Treveon Graham and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick knocked down key 3-point baskets, along with a put-back from McDermott, powered the team to a 9-0 run right before the end of the second quarter. Team USA held a 19-point advantage going into halftime.

Team USA held Czech Republic to a 31-percent shooting percentage throughout the game — something McDermott said the team has been working hard to improve.

“I think we did improve on defense,” he said in the release. “We’re all starting to trust each other, and we’re hearing each other’s voices a lot better out there, and that’s big on defense to communicate.”

Team USA players maintained their energy in the second half and never gave the Czechs a chance to make a comeback. They outscored the Czech 25-16 in the third quarter, 30-15 in the fourth quarter.

At one point, USA held a 44-point lead — at the 1:09 mark in the fourth quarter when BYU’s Tyler Haws threw down an alley-oop dunk from Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell — the largest gap in the game.

“All we need to do is keep improving, getting better every game, and we’re going to be fine,” Louisville’s Luke Hancock said in the release.

Hancock was Team USA’s second-leading scorer with 15 points, and he went 5-of-10 from the 3-point line.

In addition to McDermott and Hancock, two other players reached double-digit points. Indiana’s Will Sheehey had 10 points, and Baylor’s Cory Jefferson recorded a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

The Red, White, and Blue have the day off today; on Wednesday, the squad will play Sweden, which is still looking for its first win in the Games. USA will conclude its preliminary play against Australia on Thursday and Canada on Friday.

“We’ve got to get through these next three games, and we want to be at the top,” Hancock said. “We want to go 5-0 in pool play and set ourselves up for a great finish. That’s our goal, to win three more; now, we have to get it done.”

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