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Here’s what we learned from USA’s win over Puerto Rico

USA Basketball

USA Basketball

Well, I won’t be remembering this basketball game in the years to come. The United States blitzed out to a 27 point halftime lead but took its foot off the gas in the third quarter until a final surge in the last five minutes of the game. It was still a blowout 115-71 win.

UK commit Tyrese Maxey only played two minutes in the second half before leaving the game and not returning. He had an awkward fall but it didn’t appear from my vantage point to be serious. There are reports he turned his ankle.

1. UK should make Matthew Hurt a priority: It’s clear that James Wiseman will be UK’s top big priority and that’s the smart decision by the staff, but if the staff doesn’t feel confident about Vernon Carey they may need to cut bait and make Hurt the second option to go along with Wiseman.

There’s no indication that UK feels pessimistic about its chances with Carey, so keep that in mind, but Hurt has really impressed me this week. His versatility and ability to guard multiple positions is what John Calipari loves. Many will try to compare him to Kyle Wiltjer because his shooting ability but I think he’s a better defender today than Wiltjer was his freshman year at UK.

He finished with 14 points and one rebound, but he played more outside tonight than he did on Monday.

2. Maxey can score in bunches: Maxey didn’t play too much in the second quarter and exited the game for good early in the third, but his first quarter was impressive. He can score from anywhere and the Puerto Rico defenders had a tough time guarding him. His shooting ability makes defenders pick him up a few feet from the perimeter, but he’s so quick and good with the ball in his hands that he was blowing by guys left and right.

But he’s not just a scorer, Maxey finished with three assists in just 13 minutes of play and it could have been more. He’s good at finding the open man.

Let’s hope the ankle injury isn’t serious and he can continue to play this tournament.

3. Cole Anthony: What’s most impressive about Cole Anthony is how easy the game comes to him. You don’t always notice him making these jaw-dropping plays but then you look at his stats and realize just how much he did/does.. He had 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. I’m convinced that Anthony and Maxey could play with one another at the next level because Maxey is just as good off the ball as he is with the ball in his hands.

I actually think UK is a major player in Anthony’s recruitment and maybe the favorite.

4. Moving Forward: Pool play ends with the Americans undefeated with three blowout wins. Pool play begins on Thursday where the USA will play the last place team in the opposite pool. That will be another bloodbath.

Only the Canadian team could possibly give the Americans a game, but I’d be surprised if that potential gold medal game was within 15 points. Bill Self did a great job constructing this team and remember, this is just the FIBA Americas, not the entire world. The talent level from the other countries just isn’t there for the U18.

Article written by TJ Walker

1 Comment for Here’s what we learned from USA’s win over Puerto Rico

  1. shelby
    9:27 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Ppl won’t compare him to wiltjer because of his shooting; they will compare him to wiltjer because of his skin color. He looks a lot more ahletic than wiltjer, plus he can defend, wiltjer couldn’t guard me lol.