It wasn’t quite on par with the complete demolition job USA Basketball pulled off to flatten Panama earlier in the week, but the US opened tournament play at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship Thursday night in similarly devastating fashion.
With University of Kansas recruiting target Matthew Hurt inflicting much of the damage, coach Bill Self’s USA team moved on to the semifinals by blowing past Ecuador, 132-55, in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
The victory, which featured the most points scored by any team in the FIBA Americas event this year and the third most ever scored by a USA U18 team, assured the US of a berth in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
“I think so far they’ve absolutely done a great job of playing to the game as opposed to playing to the score,” Self said following the 77-point blowout, which came three days after a 92-point dismantling of Panama in pool play. “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.”
USA’s Friday semifinal against Argentina (3-1) is scheduled to tip at 5 p.m. CT.
The US moved to 4-0 at the FIBA Americas event behind 20 points and 11 rebounds by Trayce Jackson-Davis. Hurt came through with 19 points.
KU freshman guard Quentin Grimes scored eight on 4-for-9 shooting, with three assists.
Bishop Miege star Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, whom KU also is recruiting, contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.