BILBOA, SPAIN -- The U.S. Men's Senior National Team opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run to blow open a seven-point contest and cruise to 98-71 win over New Zealand Tuesday at Bizkaia Arena. Six members of Team USA scored in double figures and all 12 players scored at least one point as the group moved to 3-0 in pool play at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
While the USA will play Dominican Republic (1-1) at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sept. 3 (ESPN2) and conclude its preliminary round on Sept. 4 against Ukraine (2-1) at 11:30 a.m. EDT (ESPN2), Tuesday’s win assured the USA of at least a top-four finish in its group and a berth into the round of 16.
“It was a good solid performance,” said USA coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). “I thought the intensity was excellent. We were playing against a different offense, that’s a really good offense that New Zealand runs, and it’s a very difficult offense to defend with big guys because everybody is away from the basket. But overall it was good, we beat a team that really executes well and plays hard every second they are out there. So good response starting this three games in three days.”
The USA’s balanced attack was led by Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) with 21 points and nine rebounds; Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets) finished with a 15-point, 11-rebound (seven offensive boards) double-double; James Harden (Houston Rockets) added 13 points and four assists; Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) scored 12 points apiece.
Former Duke standout Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) tallied 10 points, four rebounds and four steals in the win, while Mason Plumlee, a 2013 Duke graduate, added one point, three rebounds and an assist in five minutes of action.
The USA forced 22 turnovers out of New Zealand, which it converted into 26 points, and won the rebounding battle 48-33. Further, 28 of the USA’s points came off the fast break as the team recorded 21 assists.
The USA led by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, but two 3-pointers in the last 1:29 and a put-back at the buzzer for New Zealand allowed it close the gap to seven points, 27-20.
Helping the USA to break away was the USA’s red-hot second-quarter shooting. The Americans were 10-of-14 from the field in the second quarter for an impressive 71.4 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. defense cooled New Zealand to just 31.6 percent (6-19 FGs) and forced eight turnovers in the second period alone.
After outscoring New Zealand 30-15 in quarter, the USA headed to the locker room with a 57-35 lead.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) for the first time started the second half on the floor, and Krzyzewski rolled out several different lineups.
“Well I put him (Rose) out there because he is one of the best players in the league,” said Krzyzewski. “Also, he has to get minutes with the guys that are playing more minutes, because he is a guy who should play a lot of minutes. It’s something that I thought about doing before the game, and it worked out that way. I thought Kyrie (Irving) played really well, and I thought Derrick played really well. But I didn’t use them that much together tonight; I wanted to see them separate.”
New Zealand actually outscored the USA 19-18 in the third quarter, but the USA maintained a comfortable lead of 75-54 at the end of the period.
The gap reached its widest margin – 34 points – when Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings) scored at 3:10 in the fourth quarter. Finishing the game by putting up 23 points to New Zealand’s 17 in the final period, the USA secured the win.
Additional information on the 2014 FIBA World Cup including complete stats, box scores and quotes are available at www.usab.com.