Team USA Beats Iran

Ashton Gibbs' first game for Team USA couldn't have gone better, as the Pitt sophomore guard scored 10 points off the bench in a 106-55 win against Iran in the men's under-19 World Championship basketball event in New Zealand.

Team USA, led by Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, had to deal with a 10 a.m. tipoff and chilly arena, but superior talent and balanced scoring blew away Iran (0-1). Team USA (1-0) doesn't play again until facing France July 3 in a preliminary game in Aukland, New Zealand. Tipoff is 10 a.m. there.

"One thing we did pretty well was shoot the ball, and we made some extra passes, made good decisions,'' Dixon said. "We need to cut down on some turnovers, but I think it was a good start. We know we've got to get better as this tournament continues so this is the first one and hopefully we've got something to build on.''

Seven players scored in double figures for Team USA, as Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) led the way with 13 points. Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) added 12, while John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) each accounted for 11 points. Ashton Gibbs, DeAngelo Casto (Washington State / Spokane, Wash.) and Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) scored 10 points each.

Gibbs played 20 minutes off the bench, finished with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting and converted both 3-point attempts. He also dished out four assists, finished with two steals and grabbed two rebounds.

"I think we're going to play a lot of guys,'' Dixon said. "I think that's a strength of ours. We don't see a lot of difference between our 12 guys. There's not really a lot of separation.

"That may be a little different than most teams, but that's what we have, so we're going to use that as strength of ours, play a lot of guys, so fatigue should not be an issue for us because of that. We really just want to keep our energy and intensity as we rotate 12 guys.''

Whether it was the early start or cold gym, the USA struggled with its long-range shooting early and trailed Iran 10-8 with 5:00 to play in the opening quarter. However, the treys suddenly started falling for the U.S. after the midway point of the first quarter and after 3-pointers from Gibbs, Taylor and Shurna on consecutive U.S. possessions, the USA pushed out to 17-12 lead.

Following a Shurna hoop inside, Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) added another three, and the U.S. closed out the period with two 3-pointers from Curry that were sandwiched around a pair of free throws from Shurna which left the Americans holding a comfortable 30-13 lead after the first 10 minutes.

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