Hansbrough Scores 31 At Hoop Summit

Behind USA Basketball Junior National Select Team forward <A HREF=[PlayerNode:722801]>Tyler Hansbrough</A>'s (Poplar Bluff High School / Poplar Bluff, Mo.) USA record-tying 31 points on 9-of-14 shooting, the United States posted a 106-98 victory over a World Select Team in the 8th Annual Nike Hoop Summit played Saturday night in the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.

The Nike Hoop Summit is the country's premiere annual basketball game featuring America's top senior boy high school players taking on a World Select Team comprised of the world's top players who are 19-years-old or younger.

"There were two challenges for us coming into tonight," said United States head coach Tom Diener (Harold S. Vincent High School, Milwaukee, Wis.). "First of all, we've got a number of high profile players that attract a lot of attention, and that are used to scoring 30-40 points per game. We had to take all of these great players and build them into a team in the matter of four days, and I thought we accomplished that tonight.

"The other challenge was that the Europeans are great shooters. They set great screens and back screens and really get guys open. We didn't want to give them those open looks, which is tough because they really force you to make a decision on defense and a lot of times that leaves somebody open. Once a shot went up, we were focused on boxing out and rebounding. We didn't have any selfish players tonight, and I'm proud of our guys for the way they played basketball, and proud of the way they represented their country."

With the opening tip 10 minutes off, Diener implored his team to go inside. The USA players must have listened as they went inside often, scoring 64 of their 106 points in the paint.

The USA led 14-12 with 3:48 to go in the opening quarter, then went on a 12-2 run to open some breathing space. The run started with a Martell Webster (Seattle Prep / Seattle, Wash.) 3-pointer, Louis Williams (South Gwinnett High School / Snellville, Ga.) scored off a fast break, Hansbrough scored inside, and Julian Wright (Homewood-Flossmoor High School / Chicago Heights, Ill.) tallied five of the run's final six points as the USA dashed ahead 26-14.

Leading 27-19 at the end of the opening quarter, the USA lead expanded to as many as 16, 42-26. But the World squad behind a 13-4 run, that was capped by a dunk from 6-4 Lithuanian Martynas Pocius, battled back to within five, 44-39, with 3:39 to go before halftime. Hansbrough converted two free throws to end the rally and at halftime the U.S. led 54-45.

With its lead hoovering between 11 and five points for the majority of the third quarter, the World team reduced the gap to five, 68-63, following Australia's Adam Gibson's 3-pointer with 2:23 to play in the third quarter.

The USA finished the quarter off with a 12-4 run that featured five different American team members contributing, as the USA regained control and took an 80-67 lead into the final stanza.

The fourth quarter was all USA. Holding an 87-76 advantage with 7:20 to go, the USA sealed the victory with a 13-4 offensive run that pushed them out ahead 100-80, and the USA rolled home for the 106-98 win.

The star of the night was the 6-9 Hansbrough, who has signed to play next season at the University of North Carolina. Playing 25 minutes, Hansbrough added a game best 10 rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and two steals to his 31 points. His 15-of-18 performance at the charity line established new USA Hoop Summit records for free throws made and attempted, and his 10 boards also equaled the USA rebounding mark.

"I've been involved with basketball as a coach for 25 years, and I assure you he's one of the hardest-working, most focused and most competitive players I've coached - aside from even the physical talents that he obviously has," said USA mentor Diener. "His stat line was tremendous and he played great defense, he's one of those players you just can't say enough about."

"We had just one thing in mind tonight and that was to pick up the 'W' (win)," remarked Hansbrough. "We played really well together as a team, and I really enjoyed meeting and spending time with my teammates. It was great playing for the USA and for my country. It was an honor."

Hansbrough's showing was not the only impressive effort for the USA squad as five player finished in double figures. The USA's victorious effort was also aided by Webster's 21 points, while Williams finished with 20 points, Monta Ellis (Lanier High School / Jackson, Miss.) tossed in 13 points and added five assists and four steals, while Wright recorded 11 points and eight rebounds. USA guard Greg Paulus (Christian Brothers Academy / Manlus, N.Y.) handed out a Hoop Summit record 10 assists.

The World team was paced by Pocius, who has signed to play at Duke University, 20 points, while Dusan Sakota of Greece contributed 15 points and five rebounds.

The USA shot 51.4 percent (38-74 FGs) overall, despite hitting just 3-of-15 3-point shots. The World team shot 47.4 percent from the field. The USA owned a 45-36 advantage on the glass.


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