After playing on consecutive days, Team USA's floor leader sprinted his way to an early rest Wednesday night at the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
Wayne Selden Jr., who is leading all scorers in the tournament, led Team USA to a 96-57 rout of Switzerland, helping his team emerge from pool play as the top seed from Group D with a 5-0 record — a far cry from the nail biting, 66-65 victory the Americans eked out over Serbia the night before. Kansas’ version of Team USA shot 59 percent from the floor and 10 of 17 from three-point range.
The U.S. will now receive the benefit of a two-day rest before a quarterfinal matchup against Lithuania, which set for 10 p.m. Friday night.
"Switzerland is not as talented as Brazil or Serbia or Turkey, but we did shoot the ball well today," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We’ve shot the ball well just two games over here and that’s today – which was great – and versus Chile. Against our more competitive teams, we haven’t shot it very well, so I’m looking forward to seeing if we can carry this over and shoot the ball well on Saturday."
Selden, who scored 16 points before heading to the bench for good late in the third quarter, helped facilitate a 51-33 halftime advantage despite his team’s eight turnovers, its one-for-eight mark from the foul stripe and a second-quarter run by Switzerland that cut the lead down to five at one point.
The Americans, all but two of whom are Kansas Jayhawks when they’re not representing their country abroad, shirked shooting woes that had plagued them through the first four games — a stretch in which they shot only 31 percent from behind the arc as a group. Team USA knocked down six of nine attempts from deep in the opening 20 minutes on its way to shooting at a 65 percent clip from the field against Switzerland in the first half.
After a 2 for 11 performance against the Serbs, Perry Ellis opened Wednesday night’s game aggressively, bullying his way to the bucket and scoring all of his 11 points in the opening half.
The Americans didn't need the jumper in the second 20 minutes, instead relying on their athleticism and making coach Bill Self’s desire for pace — something he preached in the weeks leading up to the Games — a reality.
Half-court sets were a rare sight in the latter quarters, as Team USA forced turnovers and feasted on the fast break, frequently bending the iron and slamming the door on the Swiss early in the third. An 18-2 run stretched the lead to 34 points and sent Selden to the bench for good after he scored all eight of his second-half points on dunks, two of which came on alley-oops.
Frank Mason III was also a beneficiary of the extended U.S. advantage, as he rested for the entire final quarter as well.
Freshman LeGerald Vick had one of his most productive games of the tournament, scoring 11 points, and Julian DeBose — a loan out from Florida Gulf Coast — took advantage of the extra playing time he saw late to lead the team with 18 points.
"Everybody played with passion," Kansas freshman Carlton Bragg said. "It was pretty fun out here and we’re just ready for the medal round."
Who: Team USA vs. Lithuania
When: Friday, 10 p.m.