Courtesy: KU Athletics
GWANGJU, Korea – For consecutive games, guard Wayne Selden, Jr. put up All-American numbers as he led USA to an 81-72 victory over Brazil in its second contest of the World University Games Sunday at Dongkang College Gymnasium in Gwangju, Korea.
With the win, USA, which is comprised mainly of University of Kansas players and staff, improved to 2-0 in Pool D play. Also on Sunday, Serbia defeated Chile (0-2), 69-43, to improve to 2-0, while Brazil fell to 1-1. Turkey is also 1-1 after its 68-61 win versus Switzerland (0-2). The top two of six teams from each of the four pools will play in the medal bracket in the World University Games.
A Kansas junior-to-be from Roxbury, Massachusetts, Selden scored team-high 19 points in Saturday’s win against Turkey and poured in a USA-best 23 points the following day against Brazil to lead all scorers – but made a point to say it wasn’t all him. Point guard Frank Mason III recorded 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, once again orchestrating the USA squad to victory. Forward Hunter Mickelson provided major spark off the bench in scoring 11 points and pulling down eight rebounds, while forward Jamari Traylor was his usual high-motor self. He added 10 points and his patented diving hustle plays in the win.
“My teammates found me when I was open,” Selden said. “I just knocked down shots and stayed aggressive throughout the entire game. My team really pushed me to do it.”
Both teams got off to sluggish starts as the contest was 2-1 in favor of Brazil with 6:43 in the opening quarter. Selden then scored five-straight points to give USA a 6-2 edge. Brazil would later drain back-to-back three pointers and recapture the lead at 12-10 and held on to a 13-12 advantage after one quarter.
Offense picked up in the second quarter as the USA more than doubled its first-quarter output by scoring 28 points. Down 23-19, the USA team went on a 14-0 run to go up 10 at 33-23 with 2:26 before intermission. Selden drained two threes during the run and Mason scored five points in the span. The Americans built their largest lead of the half when Perry Ellis hit a three from the right wing to go up 38-25. Ellis ended the contest with nine points and eight rebounds. Mason’s jumper with 26 seconds remaining gave USA a 40-28 lead at intermission.
“We defended well and we really rebounded,” USA head coach Bill Self said. “Brazil was +34 on the glass in its last game and today we were +23. We did a great job on the glass. We didn’t shoot the ball great again, but we made some timely shots. Primarily, the thing we did better than anything – other than Wayne playing great – was our bench was really good. Our role guys were really good.”
The action continued for both teams in the third period. Mickelson showed a lot of hustle with a dunk off a missed shot to give USA a 47-36 lead. He then grabbed an offensive rebound, making way for a Julian DeBose bucket and a 50-40 advantage. Forward Carlton Bragg, Jr. made a pair of free throws with 2:06 in the period to give USA its largest lead of the game, 57-41.
Up 59-44 heading into the fourth quarter, Brazil scored the first four points of the period with two lay-ups. Shutting down any comeback momentum, guard Lagerald Vick drained a three from the corner and Traylor hit a baseline jumper to push the lead back to 16 at 64-48. The Brazilians did not back down and cut the USA lead to eight at 64-56 with 6:30 to play. Poised to close it out, Selden hit a jumper in the lane and Mickelson scored a traditional three-point play off a feed from Mason to give USA a 69-56 lead.
“They were really big,” Mickelson said of the Brazilian team. “They had a lot of good guys and a lot of low-post people. They were really strong and they played through their bigs a lot.”
Brazil made one more run at the Americans, cutting the lead to seven at 75-68 with 57 seconds remaining. On the next possession, Mason drove the lane and, in Mason style, passed the ball to Vick in the left corner who drilled his second three-pointer of the game to give the USA a comfortable cushion and eventually the victory.
After two games in two days, the USA team will take off Monday, July 6, and play Chile on Tuesday, July 7, at 2:30 p.m. local, which is 12:30 a.m. in Kansas. The contest will be played at Muan Indoor Gymnasium and will not be televised.