USA Dominates Second Half In 92-57 Win Over Tunisia, Wraps-up Group B Preliminary Round Play 5-0
Sept. 2, 2010 • Istanbul, Turkey
Behind Eric Gordon's (Los Angeles Clippers) game high 21 points, 13 which came in the second half, the United States dominated Tunisia (0-5) in the second half and closed out preliminary play at the FIBA World Championship with a perfect 5-0 record after handling Tunisia 92-57 Wednesday evening.
The USA again featured a balanced scoring attack with 11 players scoring. Gordon led the charge for the red, white and blue behind 7-of-10 shooting overall, 4-of-7 from 3-point, in 25 minutes of action. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) added 14 points in 18 minutes; Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) was also credited with 14 points, and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) accounted for 13 points and drained 3-of-5 3-pointers.
The win concluded the USA's preliminary round play and the Americans next play on Monday against Angola (2-3), the No. 4 seed from Group A. Medal round quarterfinals action is slated for Sept. 8-9, with semifinals scheduled for Sept. 11 and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested Sept. 12.
"In practice we have to get better. In these next few days, we have to get better. We have had eight games in 13 days and coach would tell you that when you have a lot of games, there is slippage. So we have to take care of slippage but I know our guys want to take care of that. Hopefully - I think we are going to play Angola - on Monday night, we need to be ready for that and remember it's one and done. If you don't win, you can't win it. It's kind of like the NCAA tournament," USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
With Group B's number one seed already assured regardless of the final preliminary round game's result, the USA was sluggish in the game's first two quarters.
The U.S. trailed 8-6 with 4:26 left in the opening quarter after Tunisia's Marouan Kechrid connected on his first of his five made 3-pointers. Durant pumped in the first five points of a 13-3 USA surge that saw its lead increased to 19-11.
With Coach Krzyzewski going with a different five to start the second period, Gordon pushed the U.S. ahead 22-13 with a drive and an ensuing free throw after being fouled. With 7:06 left in the second quarter, following two consecutive baskets by Curry, the USA was up 28-18.
Tunisia, thanks to Kechrid's 3-point shooting touch, refused to go away. Following Kechrid's fifth 3-point of the opening half, Tunisia trailed by just two, 33-31, with 1:51 left in the second period.
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Westbrook closed out the half with baskets and at intermission the U.S. led by six, 39-33.
The U.S. stepped up its defensive pressure and a Durant 3-pointer started a game deciding run that saw the Americans outscore Tunisia 24-13 in the quarter and earn the U.S. a 63-46 lead heading into the game's final 10 minutes.
The USA's dominance continued in the fourth quarter. Gordon started the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and sandwiched a pair of free throws in between as the USA went on a 15-1 run to take full control 78-47.
"Tunisia really played us hard, especially in the first half. I just thought our defense really turned up … it was good throughout the game but really mostly in the second half. And it converted into easy baskets for us," said Gordon. "I just had a lot of open shots and I had to knock them down. That was the thing … we played really good defense and came down the floor in transition. We had a lot of guys that were open and luckily I was the one that was able to knock down the 3-point shots."
"Eric tonight played like he's been playing most of the time with us except for the last two games. For some reason, he was hesitant to shoot … I talked to him actually before the game and I said, 'just shoot' and if you do make a move to the basket, don't look to pass. He's a scorer and his teammates know that," said Krzyzewski.
The USA shot well, 52.2 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from 3-point, and a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line. Tunisia managed to make just 27.8 percent of its tries for the game, including 28.6 percent from 3-point. Called for 16 turnovers compared to 10 for the U.S., Tunisia outrebounded the Americans 46-39, and had 25 offensive rebounds.
"We're right we thought we were going to be or hoped we would be after pool play," said Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets). "We went 5-0 and had pretty good games. These last two games were kind of tough games to play knowing that you don't really want to win by 50, 60. You want to be respectful of different countries but at the same time, you want to try to get better a little bit. That's why you see the lapses that we have but I feel like we're in a good spot, a great spot actually."
The 2010 USA World Championship Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University's Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Toronto Raptors head mentor Jay Triano.
The 2010 FIBA (International
Basketball Federation) World Championship for Men is being held Aug. 28-Sept.
12 in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Kayseri, Turkey. Twenty-four teams are competing
in the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Men.