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Myles Powell leads Team USA over Venezuela, 70-53

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A physical, ugly game was saved by Myles Powell’s impressive performance

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament Final-Villanova vs Seton Hall Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Powell put on a show Thursday night as he led Team USA to a 70-53 win over Venezuela. The star from Seton Hall had a game high 30 points on 12 for 18 shooting, including a perfect 9 for 9 from inside the arc. And boy did Team USA need that, as the rest of his teammates shot just 1 of 13 from deep (Jermaine Samuels had the only other successful three).

Venezuela was a much more physical game for the US than their first outing. It was clear from the start that these were college players against full grown men. The team did step up to match the physicality, but it led to sloppy dribbling and passing on both sides. Throw on top of it some inconsistent whistles combined with a torrent of missed threes, and this one was ugly to watch.

But the biggest issue for Team USA was their perimeter defense. Bad switching and a lack of movement was leading to wide open threes for Venezuela. Luckily for the US their opponent was ice cold all evening, shooting a putrid 16.7%, making just 5 of 30 three point attempts. They’ll have to do much better on Friday against Puerto Rico, who had four players shoot 50% or better from deep on Thursday.

Here’s a full replay of the game on ESPN3.

Villanova’s rising juniors struggled to find their shot in this one. But true to Villanova’s style of play, when the ball wasn’t dropping they each found other ways to contribute. Just maybe not the ways you’d expect. (Editor’s Note: The stat keeping in Lima has been questionable, so we tracked our own unofficial stats for the two Villanova players)

Collin Gillespie had only 2 points, shooting 1 for 7 from the field and 0 for 4 from deep. He didn’t have any assists on the night (although he should have if anyone was hitting open jumpers), and finished with 4 turnovers. So when he didn’t have it on the offensive side, the tough nosed guard turned around on defense and pulled down a team high 7 rebounds. Gillespie did play part of the game with his wrist and thumb taped, probably due to how physical this game got.

While Jermaine Samuels did have the USA’s only three pointer outside of Powell, it was his only basket in the game. Samuels shot 1 for 5 from the field, and 1 for 4 from deep. Early on he was getting sloppy with the ball, recording 3 turnovers for the game. But like his teammate, he too found other ways to contribute. Samuels was very successful in the second half driving and either dishing underneath or kicking the ball out to open shooters, leading to a team high 4 assists. He added 4 rebounds and a block to fill out the rest of his stat sheet.

The win improves USA to 2-0 in group play, and secured a spot in the Semi-Final and medal rounds. Team USA is averaging a 26 point margin of victory in their first two games, by far the largest gap in the tournament. However that will be put to the test on Friday night as they go up against the also undefeated Puerto Rico to determine the winner of Group A.