United States 129, China 91
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ The U.S. men’s basketball team played its most impressive half and advanced to play for the gold medal at the World University Games with a 129-91 victory over China on Friday night.
The United States (6-0) will meet Canada (5-1), a 77-74 winner over Italy in the other semifinal, on Saturday night.
The United States, the two-time defending gold medalist, had won its first five games by an average of 43 points. That margin was matched with 2:43 to go in the first half. The United States led 77-29 at halftime as it shot 71 percent (28-for-39), missing just one of seven 3-point attempts.
Sharone Wright of Clemson had 17 points to lead six U.S. players in double figures, while two others had nine.
China (4-2) was in the game for all of 3:35, when it trailed 15-9. The U.S. team then went on a 14-0 run and later added a 13-2 run and closed the half with a 9-2 spurt. The dunks were plenty as the only question of the first half was whether the lead would reach 50.
″I have never seen a half like that,″ said U.S. coach Reggie Minton of the Air Force Academy. ″There was a lot of scoring. They just played tremendous. I can’t imagine playing any better. You start to get concerned about where it’s going. When you’re up 48 at the half, things are going pretty well.″
China managed to get within 30 points in the second half, 107-77 with 5:21 left, as the United States just couldn’t match its first-half effort.
″It was a little bit different in the second half,″ Minton said. ″It was a little tough keeping up that focus and intensity.″
The United States shot 43-for-62 (69 percent) for the game, including 10- for-14 from 3-point range, with four players having two 3s each.
Point guard Travis Ford of Kentucky returned after missing the final game of the qualifying round with a sprained right knee. He had 16 points and five assists.
″The knee was a little sore, but once I started playing it didn’t bother me one bit. I felt 100 percent,″ he said. ″It wasn’t as serious as I thought at first.″
Wu Zheng, China’s leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to 10. Qinglong Wu led China with 26 points.
The U.S. team’s biggest win in the tournament was a 122-55 victory over Gabon in the opening game. The closest any team has come was Ireland at 93-64.
Blowouts are nothing new for the United States in the World University Games: it has won nine games by 100 points or more, with a 173-14 victory over Sudan in 1979 the biggest win.