USA U-19 basketball team takes down Ivory Coast, 88-29

basketball_thumbnailAfter outscoring Ivory Coast (0-1) 34-10 over the game’s first 10 minutes, the suspense about the USA’s opening game of the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men in Prague, Czech Republic, was over quickly as a balanced scoring effort helped pace the Americans to an 88-29 win Thursday night.

Ivory Coast’s 29 points were the fewest allowed by a USA U19 team in the history of the FIBA event that started in 1979 and has seen the USA play 83 games.

Seventeen-year-old forward Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas), the USA’s youngest player, scored a game-high 14 points and tied for a team-high with seven rebounds, while Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose, Calif.) and Jarnell Stokes (University of Tennessee/Memphis, Tenn.) each tossed in 12 points and Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) added 10 points. Guard Elfrid Payton (University of Louisiana/Gretna, La.) finished with nine points, and posted seven boards, one assist, one blocked shot and one steal.

Next up on Friday (2:15 p.m. EDT) for the U.S. is China (1-0), a team that surprised Russia (0-1) 71-69 Thursday night. The USA closes out preliminary round Group D play Saturday (2:15 p.m. EDT) facing Russia.

“I thought we got off to a really good start; I thought the press was good, we turned them over; I thought we played very unselfish. We had I think in the first half 12 assists, five turnovers,” said USA head coach Billy Donovan (University of Florida).  “It was really one of those games where after the first half we were really able to distribute minutes and balance them out pretty evenly just for the fact we have to play three games in three days.

Utilizing its depth and athleticism right from the opening tip, if it wasn’t a turnover that the USA was converting into a slam, then the U.S. was going inside where it dominated.

Trailing 2-1, the U.S. got baskets from big men Stokes, Montrezl Harrell (University of Louisville/Tarboro, N.C.) and Gordon to take control 14-4 with the game just minutes old.

“It was important for us to grab control early and go inside because that’s our advantage,” remarked Stokes, a 6-8 and 250-pound center.

The USA put the game away with a quarter ending 20-4 offensive run that left the score 34-10 with three periods left to play. Nine U.S. players scored in the game’s first 10 minutes.

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