Ankle injury keeps Tyrese Maxey out, but USA rolls to 132-55 win

Matthew Hurt (USA Basketball Photo)

Behind Trayce Jackson-Davis’ (Center Grove H.S./Greenwood, Ind.) 20-point and 11-rebound double-double, the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team (4-0) rolled to a 132-55 victory over Ecuador (0-4) in its 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship quarterfinal game Thursday night in St. Catharines, Ontario. The win not only advances the United States to the medal semifinals, where it will face Argentina (3-1) on June 15 (6 p.m. EDT), it also punched the USA’s ticket to the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men (dates and site TBD).

Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey (South Garland H.S./Dallas, Texas) suffered a right ankle sprain in the USA’s June 12 game against Puerto Rico and did not play. He is listed as day-to-day.

A 16-0 run in the first quarter split the game open early as nine USA players scored, and the USA dashed out to 35-13 first period lead. It was smooth sailing from there, and the USA’s record remained perfect after storming to the 132-55 victory.

Aiding the USA cause were Coby White (Greenfield H.S./Goldsboro, N.C.) and Matthew Hurt (John Marshall H.S./Rochester, Minn.), who each pumped in 19 points, Mark Watts Jr. (Old Redford Academy/Detroit, Mich.) added 15 points, Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.) chipped in 12 points, six assists  and four steals, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Bishop Miege H.S./Shawnee Mission, Kan.) contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

“I think so far they’ve absolutely done a great job of playing to the game as opposed to playing to the score,” said USA U18 and University of Kansas head coach Bill Self. “I think that’s a positive. But, we’ve got to change our mindset, our focus and know that from this point forward it’s going to be real ball. And not that the first four games haven’t been, but when you play with that big of a lead, mistakes aren’t magnified. Our execution mistakes are going to be magnified. We’re going to have to play starting tomorrow.”

The USA’s 132 points were the most scored by any team in the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the third most ever scored by a USA U18 team. Only the 2014 USA squad (156-58 vs Uruguay) and the 1990 team (143-103 vs Panama) posted more points on the scoreboard in a U18 men’s game.

Jackson-Davis shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the field, aiding the USA’s sparkling 61.1 (55-90 FGs) field goal percentage on the night. The team, which netted an even 50.0 percent (13-26 3pt FGs) from 3-point, was perfect from its nine attempts from the line.

The USA outrebounded Ecuador 51-23, including 19-7 on the offensive end. The North Americans  outscored their quarterfinal opponents 76-14 inside, 48-4 on the fast break and 63-32 points off the bench.

On the defensive end, the USA was credited with 19 steals, and scored 51 points off of 30 Ecuador turnovers.

“Our defense always ignites the offense,” said Anthony, who had four steals. “Getting those steals creates easy buckets. That’s just how we like to play.”

In other action Thursday, Argentina defeated Dominican Republic (1-3) 87-70 to claim its spot in the semifinals, and also advancing was Puerto Rico (3-1), which defeated Chile (1-3) 68-65. Canada (4-0) defeated Panama (0-4) 105-39.

“I saw Argentina today, and that first quarter was terrific,” said Self. “It’s too bad their kid go nicked up, but they’re good. They share the ball, they’re smart and they’re well coached. They execute their stuff. They’re very good.”

All four semifinalists at the U18 Americas Championship earned a 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup berth.

“To secure a berth for next year definitely means a lot,” said Josiah James (Porter-Gaud School/Charleston, S.C.), who finished the night with eight points, five boards and three assists. “If I make the team or I don’t, I know that a group of guys will go and show what a USA Basketball team looks like, and they’ll do a great job at the (U19) World Cup.”

Winners of the June 15 medal semifinals will play in the June 16 (8:15 p.m. EDT) gold medal game.

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