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80 Days to B1G Basketball: Team USA Opens World University Games With Two Wins

USA holds off Argentina and demolishes the UAE to open pool play.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue is representing the USA at the World University Games and pool play recently started overseas in Taipei. The Boilermakers-filled Team USA squad have played two games so far, winning both by double digits.

First up for Team USA was Argentina, with Team USA holding off a late Argentina surge to win by the score of 89-76. While the USA opened up a 20+ lead in the second half, Argentina was capable of cutting it down to single digits before the USA responded.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game and that Argentina made some really good runs and never gave up after we would get some bigger leads,” said head coach Matt Painter. “There were stretches that we were really, really good and stretches that we were pretty bad. It was good to get that first win against a really good team, but there’s room for improvement obviously.”

Leading the USA in scoring was Carsen Edwards with 17 points, while Dakota Mathias (16), Vincent Edwards (14), P.J. Thompson (13) and Isaac Haas (11) all reached double figures.

The team didn’t shoot particularly well from deep (28.1% on 32 attempts) and committed 21 turnovers, but they did enough on both sides of the court to keep Argentina at bay throughout the game.

Following Argentina was the United Arab Emirates in a game that was nowhere near as close. USA got off to a quick start and never looked back, outscoring the United Arab Emirates by at least 13 points in every quarter. When everything was said and done the final score was a lopsided 127-53.

Ryan Cline had an impressive day, hitting 4 of 6 three pointers and leading the team with 20 points. Almost every player for Team USA reached double figures besides three players, while Jacquil Taylor just missed a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Freshman Aaron Wheeler had a productive day in his 17 minutes, adding 11 points and 8 rebounds.

USA ended up shooting 58.3% from the field, including 50% on 30 three point attempts. Size was definitely an advantage in the second game, with the USA out rebounding the UAE 57-18.

With the game out of contention early, Painter didn’t have anyone play more than 20 minutes and spent time rotating the starters and reserves throughout the game. Point guard P.J. Thompson sat out the second game and will sit the remainder of pool play. Thompson had suffered a thigh bruise against Argentina and will be recovering over the next several days.

Up next for the USA will be the Czech Republic, with tipoff set for Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. ET. The Czech Republic is 1-1 so far in pool play.