Marcus Denmon scored 11 points and ripped away a game high three steals as Team USA cruised to a 108-67 win over Mexico in the first game of pool play at the 2011 World University Games in China.
Denmon came off the bench for the American club and reach double figures on 5-of-8 field goals. He also added three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes. He did not miss a shot inside the three-point line.
“I felt like we got our first game jitters out,” Denmon said. “We came out a little slow, but that comes from having 12 new guys coming together. We went in (at halftime) and talked about some things. In the second half we came out and executed better than Mexico. They came out and played hard, but in the end I felt that our strength in numbers took over.
Team USA actually trailed 24-22 after the first quarter and led just 43-37 at the half before racing to the 41-point win. Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs played a team high 25 minutes and scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
“It was really fun,” Denmon said. “When you have as talented of a team we have, the game should be fun. We put in the hard work and now the games should be fun. In the second half we started putting the pressure on them. We started getting some layups and dunks and that always makes the games fun. All the games are going to be like that. You’ve gotta be able to still have fun in the close games and not just the ones that are easy.”
Team USA used a strong rebounding effort in the second half to extend their lead. The Americans out-rebounded Mexico 55-34 and forced 21 turnovers. Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe enjoyed a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double and four Team USA players had at least seven rebounds.
The United States (1-0) returns to action at 2:30 a.m. CT tomorrow in a game against Hungary (0-1). The Hungarians fell to Israel in their opener.