Posted: Aug 18, 2011 9:52 AM
Updated: Aug 18, 2011 7:01 PM
COLUMBIA - Team USA (5-0) had its toughest challenge at the 2011 World University Games on Thursday, but 13 points, five boards and four steals from Mizzou standout Marcus Denmon helped the Americans earn a 94-84 win over Israel (2-3) and advance from Group D play with a perfect 5-0 record.
"Israel was out there playing hard," said Denmon, "they made their shots early and we weren't making shots. They capitalized off of our missed shots and got out in transitions. I felt we made the adjustment in the second half and came out with the win."
A native of Kansas City, Denmon turned in his most complete effort of the championships hitting 5-of-10 shots from the floor, including a trey, in 19 minutes. He was one of four U.S. members in double figures and finished second on the club in scoring to Alabama's JaMychal Green. His four steals led all players and his five rebounds were tops amongst guards.
"I give Israel a lot of credit, they played hard and played together. I'm sure with them coming in as the underdog, they wanted to come out and compete with us and they did. Give credit to them, they came out and played hard. At the end we got the most important stat and that was the win," Denmon said. "We really weren't making our shots early and we had to fight back a bit. We finally got it going in the second half and we were able to create some distance from them, but they are a good team."
Team USA trailed by two at halftime (43-41), but outscored Israel 29-19 in the third quarter to take control. Israel's Anton Shoutvin led all scorers with 20 points in 37 minutes and 22-of-28 foul shooting by the Israelis kept the game tight. The Americans were slowed by 16 turnovers and hit just 15-of-25 free throws in the 10-point victory.
"I thought it was good for us. We even said at halftime that it was something we needed. Winning by 40 points can be good, but it's not always the kinds of games you want to have because then you're never really tested. I felt we responded in the second half," Denmon said.
The USA will face Lithuania (4-1), the No. 2 seed from Group C, in the quarterfinals at 5 a.m. (CT) on August 20. Both Team USA and Lithuania will be off on August 19. The semifinals are scheduled for August 21, and the finals will be played on August 22