U.S. Men battle back from halftime deficit to defeat Turkey in FIBA World Cup group play, 98-77

August 31, 2014

The young U.S. Men's National Team (2-0) had its first minor taste of adversity today at the 2014 FIBA World Cup when it rallied from a five point halftime deficit to defeat Turkey (1-1) 98-77, Sunday night in Bilbao, Spain.

This current U.S. Team features more size than some of its recent squads, and that added bulk paid off today, as big men Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) and Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets) stepped up and combined for 19 of the USA’s 31 points in the third quarter and 33 in the second half to help the USA take control.

Faried finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots while shooting 11-of-14 from the field, and Davis, who scored all 19 of his points in the second half, also grabbed six rebounds, blocked a pair of shots and made 8-of-11 shots for the game.

Cenk Akyol led Turkey with 12 points.

“I think tonight we learned a lot about each other and learned a lot about ourselves,” Faried said. “We had to go out there and grind out a win. Basically we have to have everybody buy in to what coach has been telling us, which is we can’t take no games off or just think we’re going to walk in because we’re the United States and win.”

Playing a mix of zone and man-to-man defense, Turkey controlled the tempo early on and managed to prevent the USA from finding any rhythm. Turkey was also helped by the USA sending Turkey to the line 18 times for 13 points in the first half.

In the second half, the USA limited Turkey to just 3-of-7 shooting from the free throw line. Outrebounded by Turkey 21-12 in the first half, the USA grabbed 20 second-half boards to Turkey’s 13, though Turkey finished the contest with a 34-32 advantage.

“We won and we won because we deserved to win,” said USA coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). “Our guys played their hearts out, and that was a big win for us against a really good team.”

After the USA shot just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes of the game, the second quarter saw four lead changes and five tied scores at the teams battled back and forth.

With the score tied at 32 late in the first half, Turkey hit back-to-back 3-pointers grab a 38-32 lead at 53.0 seconds. Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) made a long-ball for the USA at 38.4 to make it 40-35 in Turkey’s favor, and that was how the teams headed into the halftime locker room.

With the score knotted at 59 with 3:10 left in the third period, Faried scored an offensive rebound, followed by a 3-pointer from Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), and the USA led 64-60 after Turkey made a free throw at 1:14.

Faried made another of his game-impacting plays with 57 seconds left when he stole an inbounds pass and slammed the ball home to give the USA a 66-60 lead at the third-quarter break. Davis’ 11 points and Faried’s eight helped the USA counter Turkey’s five 3-pointers in the third quarter, as the U.S. outscored Turkey 31-20 in the third stanza.

“I think it was 64-60, we had missed a couple of close in shots and he (Kenneth Faried) got that steal and dunk that put us up 66-60, and I think that was the biggest play of the game,” said Krzyzewski. “It was by far the biggest play of the game, and it seemed like we went from there.”

By the time the fourth quarter was just 2:08 old, the Americans had jetted to a 16-point lead after posting 10 unanswered points that included 3-pointers from Thompson and James Harden (Houston Rockets), who finished with an impressive line of 14 points, seven assists, three steals and 5-of-6 shooting from the free throw line.

While the USA forced 28 turnovers, it also recorded 21 assists on its 39 made baskets and also got a double-digit scoring contribution from Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), who had 13 points and five assists.

“They went zone almost the whole game,” Davis said. “We’ve got to come out with a sense of urgency from the beginning. I think we did that in the second half. That’s what let us be able to get that lead.”

Following a day off on Sept. 1, the USA resumes play on Sept. 2 against New Zealand (0-2) at 11:30 a.m. EDT (ESPN2), followed by a game versus the Dominican Republic at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sept. 3 (ESPN2) and a final preliminary-round game on Sept. 4 versus Ukraine at 11:30 a.m. EDT (ESPN2).

Also today in the USA’s Group C: Dominican Republic (1-1) beat New Zealand (0-2) 76-63, and Finland (1-1) got a win against Ukraine (1-1) 81-76. In Group A in Granada, Spain: France (1-1) edged out Serbia (1-1) 74-73, Brazil (2-0) topped Iran (0-2) 79-50 and host Spain (2-0) recorded a 91-54 win over Egypt (0-2). In Group B in Seville, Spain: Croatia (2-0) defeated Argentina (1-1) 90-85, Senegal (1-1) was victorious against Puerto Rico (0-2) 82-75 and Greece (2-0) beat Philippines (0-2) 82-70. Finally, in Group D in Gran Canaria, Spain: Australia (1-1) topped South Korea (0-2) 89-55, Slovenia (2-0) defeated Mexico (0-2) 89-68 and Lithuania (2-0) won against Angola (1-1) 75-62.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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