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June 27, 2013

Gordon, U.S. roll past Ivory Coast in FIBA U19 opener



It did not take long for Aaron Gordon to make an imprint in Team USA's FIBA U19 World Championship preliminary round opener Thursday against the Ivory Coast.

Coming off the bench, the 6-8 Arizona-bound forward produced, in order, an assist, an offensive rebound for a putback and a defensive rebound in less than a full minute of action. By the end of the quarter, Gordon converted all three of his field goals as the Americans built a 24-point lead.

It was that easy of a day, as the U.S. cruised to an 88-29 victory in Group D play at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

"This was a good start," Gordon said in a release from USA Basketball. "We've got two more games in pool play and I think the competition will be a lot better so we can't take anything for granted and we've got to come back with the same attitude we played with today."

Gordon, who made his first five shot attempts, finished with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting - including five dunks - to go with five rebounds, a team-high four assists and two steals in a little more than 20 minutes. His dunk with 4:40 to play put the U.S. ahead by 64 points - the largest lead of the contest.

The Americans were locked in defensively, decreasing the Ivory Coast's point total through the first three 10-minute quarters and allowing no more than 10 in the first quarter. The Ivory Coast shot just 18.2 percent (10 of 55) and turned the ball over 16 times.

The U.S. owned a 22-0 edge in points off turnovers, 18-2 margin in second-chance points and dominated the paint, 66-10.

Justise Winslow, a 2014 Arizona target, led a quartet of double-figure scorers with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Jarnell Stokes matched Gordon with 12 points of his own, while Jahlil Okafor chipped in 10 points. Three of the four, with the exception of Stokes, came off the bench for U.S. head coach Billy Donovan.

"The one thing we have really tried to sell these guys on is the fact that probably most teams here don't have the level of depth that we have," Donovan said, "and you're unable to use your depth unless your depth is playing at a really, really high level every single time they're out there."

Dalen Traore paced the Ivory Coast with nine points but converted just 3 of 13 attempts.

Team USA will return to action Friday against China. Tipoff is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. local Tucson time - nine hours behind the time in Prague.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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