PORTLAND -- With the game tied at 61-all heading into the final 10 minutes, the USA Junior National Select Team outscored the World Select Team 23-11 in the final period to secure an 84-73 win in the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday at the Moda Center in Portland. Ore. The Duke-bound trio of Justise Winslow, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones combined for 43 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and seven steals in the win.
While the USA was led by 16 points from Winslow off of the bench, who also grabbed six rebounds, forward Kelly Oubre finished with 14 points, as did Okafor, who added 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
Jones, who dished out a game-high six assists, scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and secured a crucial steal, his fifth of the game, with 1:43 remaining in the contest to help propel the USA to a win.
“I’ve been around Tyus since his sophomore year of high school, the summer before his sophomore year, and it was just a pleasure to see,” said USA head coach Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.) of Jones’ fourth quarter dominance. “It was incredible how he literally took the game over. He was very poised. He didn’t turn the ball over, and he made us run what we needed to run, whether it was him getting a basket or him making us get the ball inside to the big guys and letting them finish. Obviously, the last couple minutes, him being able to drive and get a couple layups, it was just special to see. The steal he had coming out of the timeout was a huge play. Definitely, we were trying to seize momentum and that definitely took it for us. That was probably the play of the game.”
The Nike Hoop Summit is an annual basketball game played under international rules that features the USA Men’s Junior National Select Team, comprised of the top high school boy senior players, playing against a World Select Team, comprised of top players 19 years old or younger from around the world. With the win, the USA improves its series advantage to 12-5 after losing to the World Team in 2012 and 2013.
“I think it was a great game,” Jones said. “Both teams played extremely well. Our team just wanted to focus on getting the job done no matter what it took, and that’s what we did. The World Team definitely made us earn it, but each and every one of the guys in the locker room gave it their all so we’re all happy with it.”
The game was tied three times in the first few minutes before the World Team got back-to-back 3-pointers from Canada guard Jamal Murray to help compile a 16-8 lead at 2:44. The USA responded with a basket from Winslow before five points from Theo Pinson helped cut the World Team’s advantage to five points 18-13 at the first quarter break.
“It was a very competitive game,” said Okafor. “All of my teammates, we were all in the locker room extremely happy. We realize that [USA] lost the last two years here in this game, so it’s a great feeling for us to be a part of this, to be able to put USA back on top.”
The international squad put five points on the board to start the second period to grab its largest lead of the game, 22-13, at 9:12. After trading points, Oubre hit the USA’s first 3-pointer at 7:35, which kicked off four more U.S. points to cut the lead to 24-22 at 6:46. While the World Team put up two points from the line, the USA raced to seven points of its own to go up 29-26 with 5:39 left before halftime.
Though the World Team battled back to pull within three points, 41-38, in the last minute of the first half, Winslow sank a shot from just past half court at the buzzer to head to the locker room with the USA leading 44-38.
“I think their half-court shot was a little bit impactful,” said World Team head coach Roy Rana (Canada). “Honestly, it was kind of a sloppy game. It wasn’t a real clean game. We found a little bit of rhythm in the third, and we lost it late in the game, but that’s to be expected with such a short prep time and kids coming from all over the world and different challenges. We had our chances, there’s no question. We have to feel good about the fact that we were competitive, but in the end they had better possessions down the stretch.”
The USA struck first in the third quarter and built a 54-43 lead at 7:04 after Cliff Alexander had a huge block on the defensive end that led to a fast break score from Oubre. The World Team called a timeout, however, and proceeded to chip away at the USA lead. Outscoring the red, white and blue 18-7 in the third quarter’s final 6:40, a 3-pointer from World Team forward James Metecan Birsen tied the game at 61-61 with 10 minutes left to play.
After the World Team hit one of two free throws to lead 62-61 at 9:48 in the fourth, the USA reeled off nine straight points, including four from Reid Travis, to force a World Team timeout at 6:23 with the USA up 70-62. Scoring out of the break, the internationals came within four points, 71-67, at 3:45, but Jones scored a driving layup followed by a putback from Okafor to put the USA up 75-67 at 2:50.
With less than two minutes to play and the USA up by seven points, 77-70, the World Team’s hopes were still alive coming out of a timeout at 1:43. Instead, Jones stole the inbounds pass and scored a layup, one of three U.S. steals in the stanza, to put the USA up 79-70 at 1:40.
From there, the World Team managed just three points from the free throw line, as the USA scored five points to secure the 84-73 win.
Emmanuel Mudiay led all scorers with 20 points. Murray contributed 10 points and five assists and Trey Lyles finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
“We came up short, they had a good game plan,” Mudiay said. “They executed towards the end. A couple minor mistakes, I honestly feel like the game was my fault, but they came out stronger than we did in the second half.”
Overall, the USA was outrebounded by the World Team 43-36 but benefitted from 30 points off the bench to the World Team’s 24. The USA also outscored the World squad 32-24 in the paint and forced 21 turnovers.
Box score, notes, quote and much more are available at www.usabasketball.com.
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