The Day After: Selden, defense lifts USA to win over Brazil
For the second straight game, the United States men's basketball team played strong defense. KU junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. provided the offense in an 81-72 victory over Brazil at DongKang College Gymnasium.
Selden sparked the Jayhawks in the second quarter, scoring eight points in a 14-0 run that gave USA a lead it would never give up. He finished with a team-high 23 points.
In the second half, Selden received some help offensively from junior point guard Frank Mason III (15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists), senior forwards Hunter Mickelson (11 poitns, eight rebounds) and Jamari Traylor (10 points), and freshman guard Lagerald Vick (eight points, six rebounds).
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis added nine points and eight rebounds, but sat for most of the second half with a "tweaked ankle." Florida Gulf Coast senior guard Julian DeBose had three points and KU freshman forward Carlton Bragg had two points.
Wayne Selden Jr. gave the offense a lift with some dynamic plays in the second quarter, and the USA defense did the rest. For about six straight quarters now, the Jayhawks have played some stellar defense against two good opponents. They're making it tough on opposing guards to drive and kick, and they're rebounding well to limit teams to one shot per possession. For the most part the offense has been boom-or-bust, but Selden carried the Jayhawks through some struggles on Sunday.
Three reasons to smile
1 – Against a big and physical Brazilian front court, the Jayhawks cleaned up on the glass. Brazil out-rebounded Chile by 34, and the Jayhawks responded by out-rebounding Brazil, 50-27. USA grabbed 16 offensive boards, including a combined nine from Ellis and Mickelson. With how strong the Jayhawks have been playing defense, it's huge they can hold teams to just one shot on each possession.
2 – When the Jayhawks needed a guard down the stretch, freshman Lagerald Vick stepped up big. Vick is a great athlete but he's still pretty raw. Of course, that's the way most freshmen are. Instead of going through individual workouts, Vick was called upon in the fourth quarter when SMU senior Nic Moore fouled out, and he drilled two big shots to lift the Jayhawks.
“Everyone was there when they were freshmen," Selden said. "They really didn’t know what to do. They didn’t really know their way. This game was a real good foot in the door for him.”
Mickelson added: "We’re trying to advance and get points up and just be better. Having guys like that step in that young and do great things like that, hopefully that’ll carry over to the future."
3 – Selden has played out of this world in the first two games. He looks like a new and improved version of himself. Kansas coach Bill Self said he looks more bouncy and healthier. He certainly looks more aggressive and when his shot is falling like it was on Sunday, he proved how dangerous he can be. He had 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, five fouls drawn and four turnovers in 39 minutes and 52 seconds on the court.
"So far he’s been having a great tournament," Mickelson said. "He’s kind of in that rhythm. We definitely need him to stay with it. He definitely helped us out because some other guys might not be going and you can kind of give it to him and he can get his own thing going and kind of work with the team after that. It was great having that."
Three reasons to sigh
1 – The Jayhawks have struggled to get off to good starts, and it was no different on Sunday. They had no rhythm in the first quarter, going 3-of-11 from the field with nine turnovers in 10 minutes. They played well on defense, and only trailed by one at the end of the first quarter, but in the two games, they've combined for 23 points on 8-of-25 shooting with 14 turnovers in 20 minutes of first-quarter action.
"We just have to play through them," Selden said. "You’re going to do that sometimes, you know. We were careless with the ball at times. But we really stepped up our defense so we got some of those possessions back."
2 – Foul trouble forced big minutes from Selden and Mason. When Moore picked up his third foul in the second quarter, the Jayhawks were forced to keep Mason and Selden on the court to play alongside Vick or DeBose. With a thin backcourt, Moore's fourth foul in the third quarter was costly, as well as his fifth foul (and second technical) in the fourth quarter. Selden sat for eight seconds and Mason played 38 minutes. Both are far from ideal for the Jayhawks.
3 – A lot of it can be blamed because of the bad start, but the Jayhawks finished with 22 turnovers. The Jayhawks were a little loose with the ball in the second half (six turnovers in the third quarter and five turnovers in the fourth). They were working with a lead for the entire second half, and they never seemed in jeopardy of losing it, but they will struggle against top teams if they can't hold onto the ball.
The Jayhawks will travel to Muan Indoor Court for the first time to play Chile at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday (12:30 a.m. CDT). Chile (0-2) is in last place in Pool D, losing by 45 points to Brazil and 26 points to Serbia. Chile is led by 6-foot guard Diego Silva, who has averaged a team-best 17 points per game. Chile struggles on the glass, getting outrebounded, 56-27, by Serbia. Against Brazil, Chile was outrebounded, 54-20.
The game will not be broadcasted because it's at a different gym, but we will have a live blog, just like any regular season game, right here on KUsports.com.