U.S. beats Slovenia 119-76, advances to FIBA World Cup semis

  • Associated Press
  • Tuesday, September 9, 2014 4:41pm
  • SportsSports

BARCELONA, Spain — James Harden and Stephen Curry went into halftime with no points and no panic.

“We just stick to the program. We know it’s tough for any team to run with us for 40 minutes because of how deep we are and how hard we work on the floor,” Curry said.

“I think we understand we didn’t make many shots in the first half but our defense was pretty solid and if we kept the pressure on them, things would open up.”

They did. Quickly.

Klay Thompson scored 20 points and Harden had 12 of his 14 in the third quarter, helping the U.S. turn a close game into a 119-76 rout of Slovenia on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Americans, who will play Lithuania on Thursday in Barcelona for a spot in Sunday’s gold-medal game in Madrid. Lithuania beat Turkey 73-61 earlier Tuesday.

The U.S. led 49-42 at halftime despite shooting just 36 percent, with Harden and Curry, two of the NBA’s top seven scorers, combining to miss all 12 shots.

“I said, ‘I don’t think that’ll happen in the second half’ and it didn’t,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Derrick Rose finished with 12 points after coming into the game shooting 8 for 37 in the World Cup. Anthony Davis had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns led Slovenia with 13 points.

“We prepare but it’s easy to prepare on the paper,” Slovenia coach Zdovic Jure said. “Definitely they were so athletic, they were more aggressive second half and actually they punish every mistake.”

The Americans led by only five points early in the third quarter before tearing off a 27-10 run. That made it 76-54 with about two minutes left in the period, and the game turned altogether lopsided after the Americans scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to lead 96-64.

“I thought we played really hard the whole game and we just couldn’t finish in the first half some of those plays,” Krzyzewski said, “and then they stayed with it and then the floodgates opened in the second half.”

So the scoreboard ended up looking much like the Americans’ 101-71 exhibition rout the week the tournament opened, when they had huge advantages in points in the paint and at the free-throw line.

But it didn’t look that way for a while for a U.S. team that had been mostly unchallenged in the tournament while beating opponents by 31.5 points a game.

“We try hard but around 23 minutes it was like, close, the game,” Jure said. “But the power that they have, you know, it was too much for us.”

The Americans shot poorly at the start, but that just gave them more opportunities to pad their rebound totals. They missed 21 shots in the first quarter but grabbed 14 offensive boards and scored 15 second-chance points, though their lead was only 29-22 after one.

The U.S. lead grew to 12 in the second quarter, but the Americans managed only a 3-pointer by Rudy Gay over the final 2 1/2 minutes, and Zoran Dragic’s 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining cut it to 49-42 at the break.

“They kind of slowed us down in that first half, dictated the tempo and Coach talked to us second half about playing our brand of basketball and how we like to play,” Harden said. “And we came out with that intensity.”

Harden was 0 for 8 in the half while Curry missed all four of his shots while being limited to eight minutes of playing time because of foul trouble.

That gave Rose extra time to get his shot going after struggling badly in the tournament, his first action after missing most of the last two seasons following a pair of knee operations.

“Coach K gave me the green light to be aggressive and play my type of game,” Rose said. “That eased me into the game and I tried to keep it going.”

The tenseness of the first half and the feistiness of the Slovenians seemed to fire up the Americans, who celebrated so wildly after a couple of their dunks that Krzyzewski had to back them up off the floor back toward the bench.

The U.S. finished at 50 percent after making 29 of 45 shots in the second half (64 percent). The Americans outrebounded the Slovenians 53-38.

Talk to us

More in Sports

State softball.
State softball roundup: Jackson loses 4A semifinal heartbreaker to Skyview

Skyview scores 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th to rally for a 4-3 walkoff win, denying the Timberwolves a shot at a 3-peat.

State soccer.
State soccer: Monroe boys bounce back to claim 3rd place

The Bearcats rebound from a tough semifinals loss to rout O’Dea 6-0.

Lake Stevens’ Sean Martelles dives across the finish line at the end of the 4A 110 Meter Hurdles during the state track and field championships on Friday, May 27, 2022 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State track and field: Day 2 notebook

A trio of local hurdlers earn second-place medals

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
State roundup: Jackson, Lakewood softball reach semis

Rounding up action from the state softball and state boys and girls tennis tournaments.

Lake Stevens' Jayden Limar rushes with Glacier Peak's Hunter Morrison Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish on April 1, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Lake Stevens RB Jayden Limar commits to Notre Dame

The standout junior and four-star recruit announces he will join the Fighting Irish.

Duane Diede, who will be playing in his 50th Snohomish County Amateur Championship this month, stands on the 9th green at the Everett Golf and Country Club Friday, May 20, 2022, in Everett, Washington. He said he doesn’t expect anybody to ever break his record. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett man set to play in 50th straight county amateur

Cascade High School graduate Duane Diede has played in every Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament since 1972.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox falter late in loss to Indians

Spokane breaks open a tie game with four runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth and wins 15-7.

Seattle Mariners' Kyle Lewis (1) is greeted at the dugout by J.P. Crawford, right, after Lewis hit a two-run home run to score Crawford against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, May 27, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Lewis, Rodriguez homer in Mariners’ win over Astros

Seattle hits four home runs off Houston ace Justin Verlander in the 6-1 victory.

Monroe’s Owen Skurdal is slide tackled by Mercer Island’s Edward Brown during the 3A boys state semifinal on Friday, May 27, 2022 in Puyallup, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Monroe suffers heartbreaker in 3A state soccer semifinals

The Bearcats allow two extra-time goals and lose to Mercer Island 3-2.

Most Read