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June 28, 2013

Gordon posts double-double in U.S. blowout



Team USA had a bit tougher time Friday in its second preliminary round contest at the FIBA U19 World Championships. Well, compared to previous day's opener, anyway.

Coming off a wire-to-wire victory against the Ivory Coast, the Americans shrugged off a slow start to post a 113-57 win over China in Group D play at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

Arizona-bound forward Aaron Gordon led six U.S. players in double figures, notching a double-double with team highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds - including seven on the offensive glass. Gordon, who made 8 of 15 shot attempts, added two steals, two blocks and an assist in less than 17 minutes off the bench.

Michael Frazier added 15 points, Justise Winslow scored 14, Jarnell Stokes chipped in 13, while Marcus Smart and Jahlil Okafor contributed 11 apiece. Okafor also collected eight rebounds and Winslow handed out five assists for the U.S., which shot 53 percent from the field.

Team USA forced 32 turnovers for 31 points, owned a 22-3 edge in second-chance points and outscored China 70-18 in the paint.

"Jarnell (Stokes), (Mike) Tobey, Aaron (Gordon) - I think we have the best inside game of the whole tournament," Okafor said in a release from USA Basketball. "That's one thing all of the front row guys talk about, even if we don't get the ball we should still be aggressive on the offensive boards and still produce that way. We're just trying to be really aggressive on both ends of the floor."

Shuai Yuan scored a game-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting for China, but his teammates converted just 13 of 32 attempts. As a team, the Chinese shot 44.2 percent.

The Americans trailed by as many as four in the opening quarter against China before closing on a 24-8 run.

"I think the one lesson we learned in the first quarter, the first 15 points they scored were on five 3-point shots," U.S. head coach Billy Donovan said in the release. "We fouled a 3-point shooter on the first possession of the game and then we gave up four 3s. I think that's something we've really talked a lot about, defend the 3-point line. When we really went on our run is when we stopped the 3 and got some rebounds and got out on transition to score in around the basket, which is where we are most effective.

"I thought it was a good lesson for us in terms of giving up 3-point shots where we've got to do a much, much better job. And we did a better job the rest of the game stopping the 3."

The U.S., which qualified for the next round with the victory, will face Russia in the final preliminary round contest Saturday. 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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